“This is the Arab World’s Berlin Moment”Posted: January 29, 2011
Fawaz Gerges, professor of Middle Eastern politics and international relations at the London School of Economics
This is the Arab world’s Berlin moment. The authoritarian wall has fallen – and that’s regardless of whether Mubarak survives or not. It goes beyond Mubarak. The barrier of fear has been removed. It is really the beginning of the end of the status quo in the region. The introduction of the military speaks volumes about the failure of the police to suppress the protesters. The military has stepped in and will likely seal any vacuum of authority in the next few weeks. Mubarak is deeply wounded. He is bleeding terribly. We are witnessing the beginning of a new era.
The looting has prompted residents in some neighbourhoods, including the upscale Zamalek district in central Cairo, to set up vigilante groups to protect private property. Outside some apartment blocks, guards armed with machine guns had taken up posts.
In the Maadi area south of Cairo, neighbourhood mosques called on young men over loudspeakers to come down to the entrances of building and homes to ward off looters.
Naglaa Mahmoud, a Maadi resident, told the Associated Press that thugs were breaking cars and threatening to get into homes. She said even the ambulance service in the neighbourhood had abandoned their offices and accused the regime of planning the chaos by pulling out all of its police forces.
“All this seems to be prearranged. They are punishing us for asking for this change,” she said.
“What a shame he [Mubarak] doesn’t care for the people or anything. This is a corrupt regime.”
The military also urged local residents throughout the country to defend themselves from looters.
The Lede Blog at the NYT has more on ElBaradei’s early call for Mubarak to resign including a video of his interview. There are also some interesting quotes from Egyptian bloggers. This particular outcry to CNN changed their frame of the protests and the protesters. Propaganda any one?
Less than an hour after Mona Eltahway, an Egyptian blogger and journalist, appealed to CNN to stop focusing on looting and security problems in Egypt following the government’s decision to withdraw the police from the streets, the broadcaster has changed its onscreen headline from “CHAOS IN EGYPT” to “UPRISING IN EGYPT.”
Less happily for Egyptians who want to oust the Mubarak regime, and are tired of the argument that his government is a necessary bulwark against Islamist extremism, the network just aired a report that asked the question “What Happens if Mubrak falls?” that featured video of Ayman al-Zawahri, the Egyptian militant who is now Al Qaeda’s second in command.
Mohamed ElBaradei writes A Manifesto for Change in Egypt at The Daily Beast.
Then, as protests built in the streets of Egypt following the overthrow of Tunisia’s Idictator, I heard Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s assessment that the government in Egypt is “stable” and “looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people”. I was flabbergasted—and I was puzzled. What did she mean by stable, and at what price? Is it the stability of 29 years of “emergency” laws, a president with imperial power for 30 years, a parliament that is almost a mockery, a judiciary that is not independent? Is that what you call stability? I am sure not. And I am positive that it is not the standard you apply to other countries. What we see in Egypt is pseudo-stability, because real stability only comes with a democratically elected government.
f you would like to know why the United States does not have credibility in the Middle East, that is precisely the answer. People were absolutely disappointed in the way you reacted to Egypt’s last election. You reaffirmed their belief that you are applying a double standard for your friends, and siding with an authoritarian regime just because you think it represents your interests. We are staring at social disintegration, economic stagnation, political repression, and we do not hear anything from you, the Americans, or for that matter from the Europeans.
So when you say the Egyptian government is looking for ways to respond to the needs of the Egyptian people, I feel like saying, “Well, it’s too late!” This isn’t even good realpolitik. We have seen what happened in Tunisia, and before that in Iran. That should teach people there is no stability except when you have government freely chosen by its own people.
Breaking news: 19 private planes have just arrived in Dubai. These are businessmen fleeing Egypt. (4:30 pm cst) These are tycoons that have played an important role propping up Mubarak and his party and have profited from his iron fist rule. This might be another sign that the ruling class is seeing the end.
Al Jazeera: Amongst the business tycoons who have fled are Hussein Salem, a huge NDP thug industrial investor in Sharm El Sheikh (corrected)
Al Jazeera: Also reports that (now) former NDP part thug & Gamal Mubarak confidant Ahmed Ezz has fled Egypt in a private jet.
This is kewl … do you suppose we can get Jeffrey Immelt out of the country to Dubai, some how too?
NPR has put up ‘A primer on Following Egyptian Protests on Twitter’. The relevant hash tags are #egypt and #jan25.
Under the category ask me why I hate the MSM:
weeddude Weed Dude
No wonder every one was so easily suckered on Iraq.