Egyptian Protests Swell in Response to Ghonim

The crowds in Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo were again very large on Tuesday, and new networks of people joined in them, showing that the protest movement is expanding. Many newcomers appear to have been impressed by the DreamTv interview with Wael Ghonim (scroll down), which ended with him sobbing over the deaths of some 300 protesters while he was arbitrarily locked up in an Egyptian prison cell. Ghonim is among Egypt’s foremost internet technology specialists. He clearly regrets the killing of some 300 protesters by state security forces in the past two parliamentary contests. but says that those lives lost are a reason for the organizers to continue to demonstrate until victory. The central demand of the protesters is the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak.

Demonstrators broke new ground, spilling into arteries around Tahrir Square and taking up positions across from the parliament building. They also advanced toward the building where the cabinet meets.

Meanwhile, newly appointed vice president Omar Suleiman, former head of military intelligence, said that calls for the departure of president Hosni Mubarak were disrespectful, and warned the demonstrators that Egypt could not go on with big rallies every day. Although he affirmed that president Hosni Mubarak had undertaken not to arrest or interfere with the protesters, he said that one possible outcome of continued turmoil would be a military coup. Suleiman seems not to have noticed that Hosni Mubarak is an Air Force marshal, and that key cabinet posts are already filled by military officers.

Suleiman’s attempt to split the opposition by drawing part of it into talks was dealt a blow on Tuesday as the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood said it would decline to be part of any transitional or interim government.

In what might be a demonstration of independence from the regime, the Nilesat satellite television service restored the broadcasts of Aljazeera, which had been banned last week by the government.

Posted in Egypt | 13 Responses | Print |

13 Responses

  1. My Lebanese friend once told me that her mother used to say that if she wanted to spend her life laughing she should marry an Egyptian because they’re natural comedians.

    Finally I understand:
    “Although he affirmed that president Hosni Mubarak had undertaken not to arrest or interfere with the protesters, he said that one possible outcome of continued turmoil would be a military coup. ”

    Jon Stewart could never match this guy for hilarious political satire.

    • One of the many things that has impressed me is the good humour of the Egyptian people amidst all of this.

      Have a look a twitter (if you haven’t already). :)

      link to twitter.com

  2. The NY Times reports “On Monday, a diverse group of American specialists on Egypt and the Middle East wrote to Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton expressing concern that the United States “may acquiesce to an inadequate and possibly fraudulent transitional process in Egypt.” Who are these people and what more did they say? I googled the quote and found no references to this other than by the NY Times.

  3. I’d say there’s really no irony in Suleiman’s “warnings” about a “military coup” as one possible outcome of What’s Happening.

    If I remember a poli sci class I took some 45 years ago, even way back then there had been serial “military coups” in a lot of African and South American and Asia states. The generals displace the king/shah/elected government, whatever, the colonels get frustrated at the “brass ceiling” that keeps them from really cashing in on the baksheesh and “business opportunities” and kick out the generals, and so on with majors and captains and lieutenants until finally some charismatic, violent Private Doe gins up a cadre of personally loyal “soldiers”(warriors), to complete the defecation of the competent and educated and honorable, and institution of the Hobbesian Horror. Shaka Zulu knew now it worked… And the Egyptian army is all conscripts under largely corrupt officers, as I understand it. Opportunities of all kinds, in the present state of flux.

    The wiring for that charmingly repeated sequence is in place, in our brains and hearts, right alongside whatever amazing, lyrical wiring is driving people toward decency and honor in and around that place we now look to for hope, Tahrir Square. As so many once looked to Tiananmen Square… God forbid that the proles and wage slaves should ever see that order and honor and justice are possible, and legitimate government, free from the overwhelming kleptocracy and repression that too often seem inevitable.
    That’s a potential pandemic that terrifies the Takers.

  4. This is related to Suleiman and the Gaza flotilla.

    Does anyone know who to contact to follow up on this story?

    link to dailykos.com

    If it could be shown that Suleiman worked with Israel on the Flotilla attack, it would be an important thing to know.

  5. Hate to keep reading the situation like a game, trying to anticipate plays without a direct personal investment.

    But, last week Stratfor did sketch out a coup scenario. It pointed out how aged the leadership of the military it, and how even mid-grade field officers in their fifties are not part of closely-held true power club. Historically, apparently, it is these relatively junior grade officers who have taken charge in the past. So, the military keeps its power by sweeping out the ossified and intransigent senior leadership. Don’t know why S would’ve couched this as some sort of ominous threat: sounds like a reasonably painless way to move M out, wind the protests down, and move on…

    Forgot name, but Air Force chief of staff (the branch M comes from), came out with some pretty direct statements of M needing to go. Whether he or others who talk this talk are just staking out prerogatives or are part of a potential new wave, heaven knows.

  6. Getting Aljazeera back on in Egypt is a key step to taking control away from the regime. Very encouraging. A bigger step would be the seizure of state TV by the protesters. Do that and it’s game over.

  7. Are we not in the George H. W. Bush v. George W. Bush dynamic in Egypt?

    George the elder chose not to “go on to Bhagdad”, because he wanted to keep Saddam as a counterweight to Iran. George junior felt that his manhood demanded that he topple Saddam with American troops.

    What I take home is that this is an internal Egyptian matter. Yes, we have poured a lot of money into the pockets of Mubarak and his henchmen. But King George III did the same thing. If there is a revolution, there will be a revolution. The idea to keep firmly in mind is that what Google junior executives can do, the US government cannot.

  8. Israel. Washington, most European capitals, Suleiman and the Egyptian Army want stability.

    The police crackdown is coming.

  9. I hate to defend him, but I think Suleiman was somewhat misunderstood on that point.

    According to my information, he said ‘a coup’ but not ‘a military coup’. I think he was not intending to threaten but merely looked at it from a legal perspective, explaining that from their point of view, the only alternative to a dialogue about amending the constitution etc. would be to deal away with it and establish a new one, which would equal a coup (by the protestors, by the military, or by whoever…).

    That’s at least the impression I get from the report here:
    link to guardian.co.uk

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