February 02, 2011
Game over, Egyptian democracy lost
A useful article. I suspect accurate.
Game Over: The Chance For Democracy In Egypt Is Lost | The Middle East Channel
Game over: The chance for democracy in Egypt is lost
Posted By Robert Springborg Wednesday, February 2, 2011 - 4:23 PM Share
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 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. When it became clear last week that the Ministry of Interior's crowd-control forces were adding to rather than containing the popular upsurge, they were suddenly and mysteriously removed from the street. Simultaneously, by releasing a symbolic few prisoners from jail; by having plainclothes Ministry of Interior thugs engage in some vandalism and looting (probably including that in the Egyptian National Museum); and by extensively portraying on government television an alleged widespread breakdown of law and order, the regime cleverly elicited the population's desire for security. While some of that desire was filled by vigilante action, it remained clear that the military was looked to as the real protector of personal security and the nation as a whole. Army units in the streets were under clear orders to show their sympathy with the people.
... . The final nail will be driven into the coffin of the failed democratic transition in Egypt. It will be back to business as usual with a repressive, U.S.-backed military regime, only now the opposition will be much more radical and probably yet more Islamist. The historic opportunity to have a democratic Egypt led by those with whom the U.S., Europe, and even Israel could do business will have been lost, maybe forever. Uncle Sam will have to eat yet more humble pie, served up by the dictator who has just been insulting him.
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The facade of control has been broken. There is no way to put Humpty Dumpty together again absent massive violence. Mubarak can no longer regain control by bringing in a few busloads of thugs.
The protestors will be back -- and this time they'll be armed too. It won't be a few rocks thrown, it will be pitched street battles. My money is on the protestors as they are far more motivated than a bunch of state workers ordered to show up by the government. It may be that the army will use this violence as an excuse, but I think it is more likely that the army will take control itself before they institute a blood bath in support of Mubarak.
But one things is for sure. The millions of people who took to the streets -- and the weren't just in Cairo -- are not going to be placated by a promise by the existing government to do better in future. Nor are they going to take much notice of government finger-wagging to the effect that "their message has been received" and they should all get off the streets so the interior ministry can re-assert control.
Posted by: at February 3, 2011 02:21 AM
Romantic words. Romantic words don't make reality.
Posted by: The Lounsbury at February 3, 2011 04:17 AM
I don't think the army is 100pc behind Mubarak- but obviously I can't know that for sure. But there are elements that make me suspect it is not. Apart from the anecdotes about the army siding with the anti-Mubarak protestors - at least by protecting them from the goon squad - there are the events of Friday's day of rage. The air force - where Mubarak seems to have the most support (vid his choice for PM) had to have agreed to the sonic boom intimidation (low jet flyovers on Friday). But the ground forces - they're the subject of the anti-Mubarak anecdotes. So I don't know - the tank crews seem pretty reluctant to shoot the protestors, to my mind.
Posted by: matt aka yinshuisiyuan at February 3, 2011 09:09 PM
Romantic? I don't think forecasting an orgy of violence is particularly romantic, but perhaps you're right.
It is, however, the worst kind of magical thinking to imagine that Mubarak has stage-managed this whole thing.
Posted by: at February 4, 2011 02:55 AM