Yesterday in the early evening, as I was surfing the ‘net, I came across the announcement by CBS that their foreign correspondent Lara Logan had been brutally sexually assaulted and beaten in Cairo on the day Mubarak resigned.
Normally, I would have posted this at Sky Dancing right away, but at first I hesitated because the description of what happened, although vague, sounded so awful and I thought it would be insensitive to rush to the keyboard to spread the news.
Within a short period of time, it became clear to me that both mainstream news sources and blogs were all posting the story and discussing it. Still, I hesitated. I checked with the other frontpagers to see what they thought, perhaps subconsciously hoping one of them would write the post that I didn’t want to write. Meanwhile, I continued reading reactions to the story at other sites.
Finally I realized that I was really blocked about this story for some reason. I simply couldn’t find the words to write anything coherent about it. I felt a very deep sadness and a sense of foreboding that I didn’t quite understand.
I usually react strongly to stories about violence against women, but normally I don’t have a problem writing about them. Why was I having writer’s block over this one? Thankfully, Minkoff Minx wrote a very sensitive and compassionate post last night, and I stopped obsessing about my “problem” and went to sleep.
This morning as I was driving to work, I again started thinking about the feelings I had had last night; and I was able to begin to better understand my strong reaction. I had been so thrilled by what took place in Egypt–that the protesters had been able to force the ousting of Mubarak and that they had done in relatively peacefully. I had also been excited to see women taking an active role in the demonstrations. I now realized that learning about what had happened to Logan, had tainted my enthusiastic feelings about the Egyptian protests. I also began to wonder if anything would really change for Egyptian women even if there were real changes in their government.
In my reading last night I had learned that Katie Couric had also felt in danger among the crowds in Tahrir Square. She had been pushed hard by an Egyptian man whom she described as being extremely angry, his eyes full of rage.
Even more disturbing, I read that Egyptian women are regularly accosted and groped by men when they go out in public. In fact, 86% of women in Egypt say they have been sexually harrassed. From Sarah Topol, at Slate:
Egypt has a sexual harassment problem. In a 2008 study, 86 percent of women said they had been harassed on Egypt’s streets—any woman walking through a crowd of men in Egypt braces to get groped. But in the square, crammed in shoulder-to-shoulder, men apologized if they so much as bumped into you. After wandering around the protests for days, it suddenly dawned on me that I hadn’t been groped, a constant annoyance when I’m faced with large crowds in Cairo. When I pointed this out to other women in the square, we all took a moment to reflect. “I hadn’t even thought of that,” one woman in Tahrir told me. “But it’s because we’re all so focused on one goal, we’re a family here.”
Here is another piece about sexual harrassment of women in Egypt (h/t Dakinikat). In the article, Mary Rogers, a CNN producer and camerawoman who has lived in Egypt since 1994, wrote about her own personal experiences of being sexually harrassed. Be warned, it’s pretty disturbing.
Again at Slate, Rachel Larrimore asked whether the attack on Lara Logan was a “bad omen” for Egyptian women. She wondered if in the end women would really be empowered by the “revolution.” Or would they be sent back home with a “thank you” and a pat on the head?
As I continued thinking about all this, I recalled how as a young girl I had tried reading science fiction novels. I liked them a lot, but I was disappointed that male science fiction writers wrote about women in the future performing pretty much the same roles and working in the same jobs that women in the 1960s. I wondered why these supposedly imaginative writers were unable to imagine that future women might actually do exciting, stimulating jobs instead of continuing to be teachers, nurses and clerical workers eons into the future.
And yes, I know there are female science fiction writers now who imagine women of the future in adventurous situations–and perhaps there are even male writers now who can imagine such things. It doesn’t matter. For me the damage was done. I had learned something very depressing about the culture I lived in. Women were bit players–there only to provide foils for men, or to support or comfort men.
That is how I feel now about the Egyptian protests. Women were included for a time, perhaps because they were needed, perhaps because everyone was feeling excited, happy, and inclusive. For a time, even the groping of women stopped. But then, on that day when Mubarak resigned it began again. And a very famous American woman was horribly attacked by men who screamed “Jew! Jew!” as they violated and beat her.
And the day before, Logan had told Esquire.com that Egyptian soldiers hassling her and her crew had accused them of “being Israeli spies.” Logan is not Jewish.
After the attack, Logan returned to the U.S. where she spent the past several days in the hospital. It has been reported that according to network sources she was at first unable to speak and that her injuries were “serious.”
I want to be very clear. This isn’t just about the Middle East or Muslims. This could easily have happened here. Women are brutally raped every day in the U.S. Many more women are sexually harrassed at work or on the street.
Most women have experienced this–I know I have. I’ve been groped by strangers in public places. It is a terribly traumatic, degrading, and humiliating experience that can stay with you forever. I still occasionally flash back to times when this happened to me, and feel the remnants of helpless rage followed by sadness and even depression that follow such experiences. The trauma of actually being raped is, of course, far worse, and can change a woman’s life forever.
I’ll wrap this up for now. I just thought I’d share my thoughts on this, in hopes that others might relate to them.
Finally, I want to note some positive reactions following this heartbreaking event.
Nir Rosen, the “journalist” who sent out horribly offensive tweets attacking both Logan and Anderson Cooper was forced to resign from his fellowship at NYU today. He gave an interview to Fishbowl DC in which he tried to explain the unexplainable.
Egyptian activists have condemned the attack on Logan.
“It’s incredibly sad that this has happened, and it’s something that the spirit of Tahrir and the spirit of revolution was resolutely against,” Ahdaf Soueif, an author who spent a great deal of time in Tahrir Square, told the Guardian. “Women in the square were rejoicing that they felt freedom on the streets of Cairo for the first time, and [this is] definitely something that we want to stamp out alongside corruption and all the other social ills that have befallen Egypt during Mubarak’s regime.”
Mahmoud Salem, a well known Egyptian blogger, was one of many of the January 25 activists to express outrage. “Lara Logan, what happened to you was reprehensible, & I hope u don’t judge the egyptian people or Tahrir because of it,” he tweeted under his moniker Sandmonkey.
Finally, Logan is now home with her family and talking to friends about what happened to her–a healthy sign. And she is determined to go back to her job after a few weeks. Clearly she is a very strong woman with a good support system. I hope that her husband will stand by her and that she will be able to heal from this and go back to doing the work she loves.
I’m going to start out with a feel-good story this morning. I can’t find a print story about it, but you can watch video at the Weather Channel website.
A mother was driving in icy weather in Iowa, and ended up crashing. The car rolled over a couple of times and the woman was stuck, unable to check on her two children, ages one and four. Avery, the four-year-old girl got out of the car and walked up the road to a house where she found help. All three are OK now. Isn’t that an amazing and wonderful story? Watch the video and you’ll start the day with a smile.
Have you heard that President
Reagan Obama plans to cut billions from the program that provides energy assistance to poor people?
President Obama’s proposed 2012 budget will cut several billion dollars from the government’s energy assistance fund for poor people, officials briefed on the subject told National Journal.
It’s the biggest domestic spending cut disclosed so far, and one that will likely generate the most heat from the president’s traditional political allies. Such complaints might satisfy the White House, which has a vested interest in convincing Americans that it is serious about budget discipline.
One White House friend, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said earlier today that a Republican proposal to cut home heating oil counted as an “extreme idea” that would “set the country backwards.” Schumer has not yet reacted to Obama’s proposed cut. On Wednesday, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., declared: “The President’s reported proposal to drastically slash LIHEAP funds by more than half would have a severe impact on many of New Hampshire’s most vulnerable citizens and I strongly oppose it.” A spokesman for Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., declared similarly: “If these cuts are real, it would be a very disappointing development for millions of families still struggling through a harsh winter.”
In a letter to Obama, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., wrote, “We simply cannot afford to cut LIHEAP funding during one of the most brutal winters in history. Families across Massachusetts, and the country, depend on these monies to heat their homes and survive the season.”
No matter how bad you think this President is, he can always get worse. I don’t know how we’re going to survive his incompetent administration.
Here’s another bill to eliminate abortion for all practical purposes. This time it’s in Ohio.
Republican lawmakers in Ohio unveiled legislation Wednesday that would ban abortions of any fetus found to have a heartbeat, a move that could ban most abortions in the state.
Under legislation sponsored by State Representative Lynn Wachtmann, doctors would be forbidden from performing an abortion the moment a heartbeat is detected in the fetus. Fetuses generally develop a heartbeat within six weeks of conception, and in some pregnant women a heartbeat can be detected within 18 days.
The Youngstown Vindicator describes the bill as “the most restrictive abortion ban in the country” and potentially “a precedent for other states eyeing comparable restrictions.”
Robyn Marty at Alternet reports that the “heartbeat bill” amounts to an almost total ban on abortion.
Republicans are determined to turn women into forced breeders with no control over their own bodies. It’s an outrage.
Newly leaked cables from Wikileaks suggest that peak oil is a lot closer than most people think.
The documents, dated between 2007 and 2009, point to a phenomenon known to many as “peak oil,” or the point of production where you cannot continue producing more, leading to a decline in availability and a spike in prices.
But far from being a mad prophet of doom, the US cables’ source is not someone whose credibility is easily questioned.
His name is Dr. Sadad al-Husseini, the former head geologist in charge of exploration for the Saudi oil firm Aramco. He retired in 2004, but stayed in touch with US officials.
According to al-Husseini, Saudi Arabian reserves may be smaller than thought, even though the Saudis are on a growth cycle aimed at pumping out over 12 million barrels a day over the next several years. But, al-Husseini warned, global output would likely peak before then, and potentially starting in 2012
That will coordinate perfectly with Obama’s cuts in aid to poor people who can’t afford to heat their homes.
Dakinikat link to this story in comments yesterday, but it bears repeating. Cables released by Wikileaks show that Egyptian secret police were trained in torture methods by the FBI at Quantico.
Egypt’s secret police, long accused of torturing suspects and intimidating political opponents of President Hosni Mubarak, received training at the FBI’s facility in Quantico, Virginia, even as US diplomats compiled allegations of brutality against them, according to US State Department cables released by WikiLeaks.
Why am I not surprised?
In a 2007 report, Amnesty International accused the Egyptian government of turning the country into a “torture center” for war on terror suspects.
“We are now uncovering evidence of Egypt being a destination of choice for third-party or contracted-out torture in the ‘war on terror’,” Amnesty’s Kate Allen said at the time.
The Egyptian government acknowledged in 2005 that the US had transferred 60 to 70 detainees to Egypt since 2001.
Here is one of the cables linked in the story, posted by the Daily Telegraph.
I’ll end with some links to the latest news from Egypt.
From The New York Times: Wired and Shrewd, Young Egyptians Guide Revolt
They are the young professionals, mostly doctors and lawyers, who touched off and then guided the revolt shaking Egypt, members of the Facebook generation who have remained mostly faceless — very deliberately so, given the threat of arrest or abduction by the secret police.
Now, however, as the Egyptian government has sought to splinter their movement by claiming that officials were negotiating with some of its leaders, they have stepped forward publicly for the first time to describe their hidden role.
There were only about 15 of them, including Wael Ghonim, a Google executive who was detained for 12 days but emerged this week as the movement’s most potent spokesman.
From the Wall Street Journal: Rallies Fan Out as Regime Closes Ranks
Protest organizers say they aim to slowly extend the swath of real estate they control downtown, and to pull in the support of labor unions, which are historically Egypt’s most effective protesters.
Protesters set up camp outside the iron gate of the parliament building, and blocked the street; the occupation forced the relocation of a cabinet meeting from the Council of Ministers, on the same street, to the outskirts of Cairo, state television reported.
State television also showed footage of angry workers in the health, telecommunications and power sectors protesting at a number of locations across Cairo. Many were contract workers or part-timers demanding full-time work and benefits.
From Politico: White House, State Department move to end Egypt confusion
The White House is moving to stamp out reports that top officials — including Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — are sending conflicting signals about how best to resolve the crisis in Egypt.
On Wednesday, the White House and the State Department staged a 50-minute conference call for reporters Wednesday to insist that the administration’s messages on the standoff between embattled President Hosni Mubarak and demonstrators demanding his ouster have been consistent both in public — and private.
Uh huh. That must be why there is so much “confusion.”
The Daily Telegraph: Egypt crisis: protesters reject smooth transition
On the 16th day of protests, street leaders were emboldened to take a more militant line against the regime than the opposition parties that have entered talks with Hosni Mubarak’s vice President Omar Suleiman.
Mr Suleiman, who held more talks on constitutional reforms yesterday, has increasingly emerged as the focus of popular anger. He enraged demonstrators yesterday by warning that the regime would not tolerate prolonged demonstrations, stating that the options were either “dialogue” or “coup”.
“He is threatening to impose martial law, which means everybody in the square will be smashed,” said Abdul-Rahman Samir, a Tahrir Square spokesman. “But what would he do with the rest of the 70 million Egyptians who will follow us afterward.”
Business experts said Ghonim’s high-profile role in the protests poses a dilemma for management, even for a company like Google that has not hesitated to take on countries such as China in the past.
“I’m sure Google is very nervous about having their employees publicly associated with politics,” said Charles Skuba, an international business professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.
“It’s a slippery slope,” Skuba told AFP. “Whenever an employee of a company becomes publicly associated with a political situation there’s often more peril for the company than there is advantage.”
Google campaigned vigorously for the release of Ghonim, a 30-year-old Egyptian who is the company’s marketing chief for the Middle East and North Africa, after he went missing in Cairo on January 27.
Sooooo…What are you reading and blogging about today?
Morning everyone, it’s Wednesday…only three more days to go till the weekend. So lets dig into this morning’s reads!
House Republicans suffered an embarrassing setback Tuesday when they fell seven votes short of extending provisions of the Patriot Act, a vote that served as the first small uprising of the party’s tea-party bloc.
The bill to reauthorize key parts of the counter-terrorism surveillance law, which expire at the end of the month, required a super-majority to pass under special rules reserved for non-controversial measures.
It appears that 26 Republicans voted against the extension, 8 of them freshman. The White House put out a statement.
From The Hill:
The Obama administration said Tuesday it wants a three-year extension of Patriot Act surveillance authorities, far longer than the timeline proposed by House Republicans.The White House released a Statement of Administration Policy that says it “would strongly prefer enactment of reauthorizing legislation that would extend these authorities until December 2013.”
A longer extension, the administration’s statement said, “would ensure appropriate congressional oversight by maintaining a sunset, but the longer duration provides the necessary certainty and predictability that our Nation’s intelligence and law enforcement agencies require as they continue to protect our national security.”
At the same time, the statement said the White House does not object to the Republican proposal.
The Republican proposal will be taken up Tuesday under a suspension of House rules, and would extend the authority that allows U.S. agents to conduct “roving surveillance” of targets, collect business records and other tangible intelligence records, and surveil solo operators who are not tied to a specific terrorist group but may pose a threat to the United States.
For more analysis I will turn to FDL, which brings the irony of the days vote into the big picture.
Sometimes the irony of two news events that happen on the same day is almost surreal. Today, we have news that the Obama administration is pushing the Mubarak government to immediately end the Egypt’s “Emergency Law,” which gives the President sweeping powers to violate the rights of the country’s citizens.
On to other ironies, the recent purchase of Arianna’s Huffpo by AOL is causing a stir among other left-leaning political blogs. FT.com / Media – Huffington deal fires rivals’ hopes
This week’s $315m acquisition by AOL of the Huffington Post has set the blogs chattering not only because a notable peer is changing hands, but because it could also reflect a higher value on them.
There is scepticism the purchase by AOL of the left-leaning blog site will revive the media group’s fortunes, but some analysts think it could have opened the door to a wave of deals. Jeff Zucker, former chief executive of NBC Universal, said on Tuesday that he had tried to acquire the Huffington Post but could not settle on a price.
Blog networks including Gawker Media, Glam Media and the Business Insider sites are being discussed as potential targets. But it is unclear who might spend so richly on other blogs.
“I don’t know if there is going to be a buying spree,” John Blackledge, of Credit Suisse, said. “AOL has cash and they are trying to transform their business.”
The reason I mention the ironies is this tweet that Dakinikat posted in the comments on Monday:
@keachhagey: Talked to @AriannaHuff about what AOL deal means for ideology: “We don’t think of ourselves as left.” http://is.gd/mfffw4
So as I read about other “left leaning blogs” becoming the target of some larger news/network buying them out, I think…but wait, Arianna says they don’t think of Huffpo as “left.”
Speaking of the left, this article in Nate Silver’s blog Five Thirty Eight: Are Democrats Better Off Than They Were 25 Years Ago? – NYTimes.com
The Democratic Leadership Council, a proud and sometimes belligerent group that sought to steer Democratic policy toward the right, will reportedly cease its operations.
The D.L.C.’s influence waned some after Mr. Clinton’s vice president, Al Gore — who was then perceived as more moderate than he is now — failed to win the election of 2000, and then further after the group strongly supported the invasion of Iraq in 2003. In more recent years, the D.L.C. has teetered on the brink of irrelevancy, eclipsed on the one hand by other moderate groups like Third Way and the Blue Dog Democrats, and on the other by the Democratic blogosphere, which has provided an alternative infrastructure by which candidates, especially liberals, can gain money and support. In 2007, all major Democratic presidential candidates — including Mr. Clinton’s spouse, Hillary Rodham Clinton — skipped the D.L.C.’s convention, but participated in a debate sponsored by the blog Daily Kos.
The D.L.C., for instance, often cultivated wealthy and corporate donors, and from 1985 to 2008, the share of income earned by the wealthiest 1 percent of taxpayers increased to 20 percent from 10 percent at the same time their effective tax rates declined.
Read the entire article, I would like to hear what you think about it. Silver makes some comments about Obama’s liberal voting record while he was in the Senate…
Obama…generally did not run away from that record as a candidate in 2008, although one can debate the extent to which he has done so since.
Silver goes on to question if the D.L.C. in some way cause the rise in Conservative Republicans. Since it seems that since the Republican’s of today have gone way further to the Right then they were previously. He questions whether it was the D.L.C. that got the Big Dawg elected in 1992. His take is that the D.L.C. really was not all that important…that Democrats would have won in 1992 anyway. I’m not sure, but I think that statement about exactly where the D.L.C. was drumming up support tells part of the tale as to why we are stuck with a Republican in a Democrat suit.
So put some of the pieces together. You got most of the support coming from wealthier contributors, a left blogosphere that did some real work during the 2008 election (as that link to FT discussed) and a President that reads Reagan biographies to gain wisdom, and move more to center. (Cough) What all this says to me, some 40 year old woman living in the center of the Religious Right, is that the Democratic Party has been replaced by what used to be Republicans…and the Republicans have gone way off the deep end toward a more radical religious right. Ugh…I realize this is nothing new to y’all…but those nifty graphs really do paint a sad picture of a declining party that once stood for something real.
Wonk the Vote had a post on Saturday about the a time for prayers. Within this post was a picture of a group of women outside of Tehran University participating in Friday prayer. What came to my mind almost immediately was just how much that picture of women grouped together looked like a weave structure that is very prevalent in the Middle East.
Photo: Iranian women participated in Friday prayer outside Tehran University (Behrouz Mehri/AFP-Getty)… [Link]
Above is an image of the weave structure, called a Warp Faced Weave. Below is a close up of the weave, woven by Bedouin women on ground looms, to make lengths of cloth to sew together for their tents. I am not going to go into the theory of weave structure, or discuss the historic and cultural significance of the amazing weavers that live their lives in the sandy desert, or in small groups of tribal homes where the women weave on the rooftops.
What I wanted to stress was the analogy of the women coming together for prayer, the image of the photograph, the connection to the people in Egypt…as they come together to weave a new government that represents the people.
When you start weaving something, you take an extremely strong yarn, which is made from many single yarns that are plyed together…and proceed to wind your warp, this is the backbone of the woven cloth. It must be able to withstand high tension. It must also be strong enough to bear the weight of the beater as you weave the weft thread between those stretched warp threads. In a warp face weave, those strong warp threads are the main visual representation of that particular weave structure. The weft threads are what give the warp support, so that warp can come forward in the cloth. These weft threads are not necessarily strong, they are mostly individual single threads that are spun rather loose and lofty.
Looking at that picture of those Iranian women at prayer, and watching the last two weeks of protest in Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt…makes me think of a woven cloth in the making. The people of Egypt (the weft) are supporting the anti-government protesters in the Square (the warp) and trying desperately to overcome the regime of Mubarak. They are coming together to try and create a government that represents them as a whole cloth…I know it is a bit of a stretch, and I guess the situation is much more than that. But to make that cloth takes a hell of a lot of work. It is not done alone, it is something that involves the entire tribe from raising the goats they use as fiber for the yarn, to the time it takes to spin and ready the yarn for weaving, to the hard part of warping the loom, making sure the structure is sound and the warp is consistent…to weaving the soft threads into that warp with care and experience. And then, when all is said and done, the work of all those people create a shelter…a tent to protect them from the elements. A government to represent the people as a Democracy….it all is connected.
So what are you reading today?
Today multiple news sources are suddenly reporting practically word for word a new meme on the Egyptian “transition” that is obviously coming from the Obama administration. And the message has been coordinated with Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman. Mubarak is being gradually edged out, and the U.S. needs to make sure they stay in control of the situation. Obama must make sure to prevent real democracy from taking hold in Egypt.
So the new meme is that Mubarak will be kept around as a powerless figurehead, but first he needs to make some changes in the constitutional rules of succession so that Suleiman can legally be in charge of the “transition” government. Why Suleiman? Supposedly because the guy who is supposed to succeed Mubarak, Ahmad Fathi Sorour, is “much worse” than even Suleiman the torturer. Yet there is never any credible explanation for why Solour is so terrible that it’s better to have a torturer in control of the lead-up to
US-controlled “free and fair” elections
From the Village organ: What Mubarak must do before he resigns.
If today Mubarak were no longer available to fulfill his role as president, the interim president would be one of two candidates. If he chooses to leave the country, say for “medical reasons,” the interim president would be Omar Suleiman, the former intelligence chief who was recently made vice president. Egyptians, particularly those of us calling for an end to Mubarak’s three-decade rule, see Suleiman as Mubarak II, especially after the lengthy interview he gave to state television Feb. 3 in which he accused the demonstrators in Tahrir Square of implementing foreign agendas. He did not even bother to veil his threats of retaliation against protesters.
On the other hand, if Mubarak is pushed to resign immediately we would have an even worse interim president: Fathi Surur, who has been speaker of the People’s Assembly since 1990.
And he would be worse because?
Surur has long employed his legal expertise to maintain and add to the arsenal of abusive laws that Mubarak’s regime has used against the Egyptian people. Since neither Suleiman nor Surur would be able to amend the constitution during the interim tenure, the next presidential election would be conducted under the notoriously restrictive election rules Mubarak introduced in 2007. That would effectively guarantee that no credible candidate would be able to run against the interim president.
So before Mubarak resigns he must sign a presidential decree delegating all of his authorities to his vice president until their current terms end in September.
But Suleiman “has long employed his [military and intelligence] expertise” to cooperate with U.S. rendition and torture policies. Why is he better? Why should anyone believe that Suleiman will push for real democracy? Give me a break! The U.S. wants Suleiman in charge because he is their guy.
Just after she completed the interview, Radwan was brutally beaten by thugs working for the Egyptian dictator. She told Amy Goodman of Democracy Now
“I got attacked by the mob and beaten half to death by the Mubarak thugs who were happy to snatch my necklaces off my neck and to rip my shirt open,”
There is a follow-up telephone interview with Radwan at the second link above. The call with Radwan begins around 37:19. She says that pro-Mubarak thugs asked her if she was pro- or anti-Mubarak. She didn’t want to answer and tried to walk past them. Then the thugs called to the rest of the “mob,” “She’s with them, she’s with them! Get her!”
Two large men held her by the arms while the mob ripped her shirt off, took a gold necklace that she wore during the interview, and beat her so badly that she had to get stitches in her head. She says that other people have been treated much worse than she was. Radwan says that the Egyptian government-controlled media has been “broadcasting nonstop” that “we are infiltrators, that we are foreign-paid…not actually real Eqyptians.”
Amy Goodman says that Democracy Now has been getting reports that the “pro-Mubarak” forces seem to be made up mostly of Egyptian police. The Guardian apparently reported that at least 100 police ID’s have been recovered. There is lots more in the video. If it becomes available on Youtube, I’ll post it here.
What will happen next?
At the Foreign Policy blog, Robert Springbord puts into words what I have been fearing for the past few days: Game over: The chance for democracy in Egypt is lost.
While much of American media has termed the events unfolding in Egypt today as “clashes between pro-government and opposition groups,” this is not in fact what’s happening on the street. The so-called “pro-government” forces are actually Mubarak’s cleverly orchestrated goon squads dressed up as pro-Mubarak demonstrators to attack the protesters in Midan Tahrir, with the Army appearing to be a neutral force. The opposition, largely cognizant of the dirty game being played against it, nevertheless has had little choice but to call for protection against the regime’s thugs by the regime itself, i.e., the military. And so Mubarak begins to show us just how clever and experienced he truly is. The game is, thus, more or less over.
The threat to the military’s control of the Egyptian political system is passing. Millions of demonstrators in the street have not broken the chain of command over which President Mubarak presides. Paradoxically the popular uprising has even ensured that the presidential succession will not only be engineered by the military, but that an officer will succeed Mubarak. The only possible civilian candidate, Gamal Mubarak, has been chased into exile, thereby clearing the path for the new vice president, Gen. Omar Suleiman. The military high command, which under no circumstances would submit to rule by civilians rooted in a representative system, can now breathe much more easily than a few days ago. It can neutralize any further political pressure from below by organizing Hosni Mubarak’s exile, but that may well be unnecessary.
The president and the military, have, in sum, outsmarted the opposition and, for that matter, the Obama administration. They skillfully retained the acceptability and even popularity of the Army, while instilling widespread fear and anxiety in the population and an accompanying longing for a return to normalcy.
This is an open thread to discuss the Egyptian protests.