Egypt Protests Spark Confrontations in Yemen, Algeria

An attempt by the military police to clear Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo Sunday of all protesters seemed as though it were succeeding until mid-morning. They removed most of the tents, and made a path for traffic through the area, a vital artery. There were some beatings of protesters and minor scuffles.

Then protesters poured back into one area of the square, to the side of the traffic. Aljazeera is saying that some of them are from the countryside and cannot so easily just pick up stakes and go home. Others are committed to staying in the square until the state of emergency is lifted and other reforms are practically implemented. On the other hand, most protesters have returned to work or school (Sunday is a work day for many in Egypt), and can hardly afford to continue to abandon their day jobs.

The Egyptian military on Saturday had made a mistake, it seemed to me, in declaring that the military cabinet assembled by ousted dictator Hosni Mubarak would be charged with running the day to day affairs of the government until new elections. Initially the army had declared that a council of officers was in charge, and I think that way of putting things was more acceptable to the protest movement.

Some reports say that the protesters are forming a council to negotiate the direction of the country with the military, and to guide supporters as to whether they should call, or call off, demonstrations.

In part in order to mollify the January 25 movement, the cabinet (which met on Sunday) announced that several members of the old regime, including former prime minister Ahmad Nazif and feared former Interior Minister Habib Adly, were barred from leaving the country as their finances were investigated. Likewise, the assets of several fixtures of the Mubarak regime were being investigated, including steel magnate Ahmad Izz, former housing minister Ahmad al-Maghribi, and former trade and industry minister Rashid Mohammed Rashid. This step did not satisfy everyone, obviously. Information minister Anas al-Fikki, widely hated because of his pro-Mubarak propaganda, has been forced to resign from the cabinet and some reports say he is also on the no-fly list.

The Telegraph is reporting that Mubarak himself used his last 18 days in power to move billions of dollars in ill-gotten assets around, into secret accounts so that this wealth could not be seized.

The effect of the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions was felt elsewhere in the Arab world on the weekend. On Saturday in Algiers, several thousand protesters defied police to rally for the resignation of President Abdel Aziz Bouteflika. They were prevented from marching through the city, and the demonstration was broken up by police.

In Yemen, some 2000 protesters convened at the university and then marched for the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. They were then attacked by a knife-wielding mob of Saleh “supporters,” who stopped the demonstration.

In Jordan on Saturday, trade unionists and members of the Muslim Brotherhood celebrated Mubarak’s departure. Some saw it as a blow to US influence in the region.

Meanwhile, Iran’s Green Movement is calling for peaceful demonstrations on Monday.

Opposition parties in Tunisia hailed the changes in Egypt, which they had helped spark.

Billionaire autocrat Hosni Mubarak could not have imagined that an educated, over-qualified vegetable-seller’s self-immolation (that of the martyr Mohamed Bouazizi) in a small town in rural Tunisia could set off a political tsunami that would sweep him from power in distant Cairo.

Posted in Egypt | 8 Responses | Print |

8 Responses

  1. It is very sad that very little attention is paid to the Yemeni revolution in the media. Yemen is the third candidate for overthrowing dictatorship after Tunisia and Egypt. There have been continued protests since mid-January in various parts of the country. These have not received the due attention. In Yemen, the situation is on the brink of massive explosion. Thousands of Yemenis are currently demonstrating in a number of cities, including Sanaa, Aden, Taiz, Mareb, etc. The revolution is underway. Its massive explosion is only delayed by the nebulous position of the opposition represented by the Joint Meeting parties (JMP). All Indicators reveal the feasibility of revolution. More significantly, the regime has fallen to the temptation to suppress peaceful marches and demonstrations by force, including firing live bullets at the demonstrators, a development which is likely to lead to the escalation of the demonstrations. This is an important development that would put the events in Yemen on the track of Tunisia and Egypt. Just today (Sunday morning), two prominent activists have been injured as a result of being shot by the police in the capital city, Sanaa. These are female activist Samia Al-Aghbary and Maizar aljunaid. Samia is now in hospital.

    Hope that the Yemeni revolution will get the attention of all freedom-loving people and the media around the world. Thank you, Prof., for your enlightening articles. My best wishes.

  2. I can’t tell you how many times people in Latin America asked me to keep my government from invading their country, overthrowing their government and killing their families. U. S. Citizens.. your homework for today.. keep U.S. weapons, U.S. money and the CIA out of Egypt. They don’t get to define what is in U.S. interests, We do!! Easier said than done.

  3. “Some organizers of the protests in Egypt said on Saturday they were trying to form a council to lead the protests and deal with the military now in control.”

    In Russia, the people also formed a Council – “Soviet” in Russian – to counter the authority of the Provisional Government.

  4. In today’s news the Egyptian military dissolved parliament and suspended the constitution. You can’t get any more in charge than that. But so far the state of emergency is still in effect and the prime minister says that “security” is the number one priority. That is sort of strange since the opposition forces were quite peaceful – no security issue.

    Of course OUR real concerns are the Muslim Brotherhood and the treaty with Israel. We’ve made the Muslim Brotherhood into a ready-in-case-we-need-it bogeyman regardless of their intentions or actions. The treaty worship tells the Egyptian populace that that foreign policy of the New Egypt has certain limits, and tells the Army how to keep that 1.3 billion coming in each year. Egypt’s poverty, hunger, and unemployment are not something we plan to worry about (maybe dispatch some three piece suits to lecture on free markets and free trade).

    This is all OK with the Obama’s mantra of talk big but don’t carry a stick. In my view what he should really do is give Hillary a tent and some rations, then tell her to camp out in Tahrir Square until it is perfectly clear that the Army is going to give the country back to the people. And tell the Military that the 1.3 billion is on hold until Hillary leaves the Square.

    • Lol, Hillary in a tent!! What a marvelous fantasy. Thank you for the positive mental picture.
      Seriously though, I agree with the majority who feel that Mubarak stepping down was only a small victory, not the end of the struggle. Already the MSM is spinning stories about the MB bogeyman, and poor Israel’s vulnerability. You gotta give it to those zionists though, nobody has perfected the art of victimhood like they have.

  5. Egypt’s military dictatorship has merely succeded itself, so it is a great mistake for the Revolutionaries to demobilize. Mubarak was merely the most visible head of a Hydra feeding on the vitality of Egyptian society, the Hydra being Egypt’s Military Industrial Complex. For Egypt to prosper as a democracy, the Hyrda must be destroyed.

    • Agree. It ain’t over ’til it’s over.

      The army has the weapons and is firmly in charge. Unless it splits along ideological lines or because junior officers refuse to obey orders to deal firmly with the protesters, there is little chance that meaningful reform will occur.

  6. Yemen is likely to be the third candidate for overthrowing dictatorship after Tunisia and Egypt. There have been continued protests since mid-January in various parts of the country. In Yemen, the situation is on the brink of massive explosion. Thousands of Yemenis are currently demonstrating in a number of cities, especially Sanaa, Aden, and Taiz. it seems that these demonstrations are the throes for a revolution underway. The position of the Joint Meeting parties (JMP)has contributed to the delay of massive protests as they stress dialogue and peaceful negotiations, especially due to the unique situation in Yemen where a population of about 23 million possess 60 million pieces of weapons according to estimates of international organizations. All indicators reveal the feasibility of revolution, however. On sunday, Feb, 13, the reaffirmation of the JMP to initiate dialogue carries within its folds daring demands, demanding serious and gigantic steps of reform from the president if he is to avoid the fate of ben Ali and Mubarak (the declaration hints).
    More significantly, the regime has fallen to the temptation to suppress peaceful marches and demonstrations by force, including acts of beating and aggression against the demonstrators, a development which is likely to lead to the escalation of the situation. This is an important development that would put the events in Yemen on the track of Tunisia and Egypt. Just today (Sunday morning), some prominent activists have been injured as a result of being hit by the security forces in the capital city, Sanaa. These are female activist Samia Al-Aghbary and Maizar aljunaid, the MB S. Hashid. Samia’s injury was the harshest as she was hit by sticks on the head and was hospitalized as a result. We have to still wait and see what the coming few days have in store, especially as the declaration of the JMP seems to hint at the inevitability of revolution if the demands laid down in the declaration are not endorsed by the regime within this week.

    Finally, Thank you, Prof., for your enlightening articles. My best wishes.

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