Egyptian Revolution 2.0?

Egypt is virtually rudderless as morning breaks on Tuesday. Interim prime minister Essam Sharaf and his cabinet tendered their resignations in protest against the use of violence against protesters in Tahrir Square. The demonstrators had been demanding that the military withdraw its “Silmi Communique,” which pledged military oversight of the next Egyptian government, put the military budget off limits to the civilian authorities, and gave the military veto over articles in the new constitution before they went to the electorate for a referendum.

Sharaf’s cabinet apparently is willing to stay on for a short period until another interim government can announced.

One possibility being considered by the military, according to one Arabic newspaper, would be to appoint Mohammed Elbaradei (a presidential candidate and former head of the IAEA at the UN) to form a government of national unity.

Some 20,000 protesters were in Tahrir Square on Monday night. On Tuesday morning, smaller crowds of protesters had gathered again in in downtown Cairo. In Alexandria late Monday, 5000 protesters surrounded a central security building. In the port city of Ismailiya, an angry crowd of 4,000 gathered, and two were killed when police fired on them.

Aljazeera English reports that protesters are calling for a million-person march on Tuesday afternoon.

But the powerful Muslim Brotherhood party, Freedom and Justice, announced that they would not join the demonstration. They said they did not want to see the confrontation ratcheted up. Typically when the Muslim Brotherhood does not join a demonstration, the rally is smaller and less successful than it would have been otherwise.

In the wake of the killing of some 33 protesters around the country (some 24 of them in downtown Cairo) since Friday, crowds in Tahrir Square have started chanting “The people want the fall of the Air Marshall [al-Mushir],” i.e. they are calling for the outster of Air Marshall Hussein Tantawi, the head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, who is de facto Egypt’s interim president.

Protesters also called for the formation of a government of national unity by the New Year, and the election of a civilian president no later than April (the current plan, backed by the military, is for staggered parliamentary elections to be held for the lower and upper houses through March, after which a constituent assembly will draft a constitution. Next year this time, presidential elections would be held.

A credible new civilian government needs to be established as soon as possible.

Posted in Egypt | 12 Responses | Print |

12 Responses

  1. Mushir is similar to the rank of Field Marshal (UK) or General of the Army (US), especially when he rose within the ranks of the infantry.

  2. Islam as an ideology is definitely not against democracy as many but out of political expediency capitalist nations wanted the developing world to remain totalitarian so that economic domination could go on unabated.
    President George W. Bush’s decision to build democracy in Iraq seemed so lame to many people because it appeared, at best, a pretext, not genuine.
    The idea of democracy had become a potent force among Muslims, and authoritarianism had become the midwife to Islamic extremism.
    Theocracy combining democracy has been a good experiment in the Islamic Republic of Iran since the revolution. Over the last three decades, clerical Iran has nurtured an intense intellectual discourse about the duties that man owes to God.
    Democracy remained for Muslims as well as others a cherished ideal, attainable at some future date when the despots had lost their power.
    The secular Muslim intellectuals in exile, however, more forcefully embraced the democratic cause . It is a fact that democracy, not dictatorship, is now seen as a better vehicle for economic growth and social justice.
    Western political administrations helped to blind Westerners to the momentous marriage of Islamism and democratic ideas. Men and women of devout faith, who cherish (if not always rigorously follow) Shariah law increasingly embraced the idea that only elected political leadership is legitimate. Islam puts extraordinary emphasis upon the idea of justice — the earthbound quid pro quo that a man can expect in a righteous life.
    The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is evolving and will end up with supporting democracy without sacrificing Islam. It is a fact that the Egyptian faithful like the idea of voting for their leaders. The Brothers are trying to figure out how to integrate two civilizations and thereby revive their own. Egypt may not repeat Iran, where fundamentalists took undisputed power, but a repeat of Iraq, where Sunni religious parties will play a significant role

  3. The military should reform itself and withdraw from politics.
    For regime preservation, Mubarak played up the threat of Islamist extremism — partly to buttress their own position and partly to win Washington’s support.
    The new Admin should learn hard lesson from this.
    The irony for Mubarak was that he was thrown out not by the Muslim Brotherhood but by the wider population through people power.

    To be sure, talk about the appropriate model for Egypt is presumptuous. The last thing the Egypt should do is to impose an outside model drafted by Washington on Egypt. The Egyptians have the right to decide their own future.

    Whatever it is, the final shape of the new Egyptian polity should be the product of a national consensus of all the political forces in the country, with no groups left out.
    To begin with, it will not be like Iran. The new Egypt will not be a theocracy
    The Islamist bloc in Indonesia is currently not enjoying wide national support.
    Egypt should not be a military-dominated state like Algeria. The Egyptian army will disengage from politics.
    Egypt should remain a non-theocratic state that accommodates in a fine balance the three major forces of secularism, Islam and the military. These are also the key forces that will determine the future of the new Egypt.

  4. Did you see that the Egyptian military is citing the American police actions against OWS as a basis for a “strong response” to the protesters in Cairo?

  5. So many Egyptian people who have and are protesting for social justice and accountability have been such an inspiration to people around the world. So brave. Demanding that their leaders be held accountable. Americans need to take notes about the accountability issue. Instead of Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, Feith, Rice being held accountable for their crimes against humanity their new spin on the old spin that has cost thousands of lives, is being broadcast on the US MSM.

    So proud of all of those who have been participating in the OCW protest around the country. Many of us have been activist and very concerned citizens for years. Lobbying, registering voters, voting, petitioning our Reps, marching in the streets, getting arrested over unnecessary wars etc etc.

    But this new and very alive movement is growing and will continue to grow. Demanding accountability for past banking fraud,unnecessary wars etc etc. As Obama has said in the past “make me do it” Keep pushing folks. And thank you to all of the OWS protesters across the country

  6. The part I personally like is when maybe the military types suddenly remember that they are only annoying and potentially fatal parasites, that they thrive best when out of sight, that they don’t make or grow or fix anything, that they pad their wallets and feather their nests only by stealing from healthier activities, and that if they cause a little too much itching and pain, the long-suffering patients might lose patience, direct some unwanted attention and pesticide at them, and shuck them off.

    Moderation in all things, including moderation.

  7. Speaking only for myself, as is our policy, I want to extend the unqualified support of #OWS for the Egyptian people. I hoep our own oligarchy will take a lesson here, that you can evict the occupiers, but you cannot evict the occupation.

  8. I am very skeptical that the military will ever step aside. I believe all these so-called “concessions” are designed to buy time so that the military can negotiate a deal with one or more of the political parties that would leave the military untouchable (and, more importantly, un-audited)for the foreseeable future. The military will play the “Islamist”card the same way the Saudi royal family has played it for years: better us than the radical, terror-prone Islamists. What the military really fears is the loss of the financially lucrative privileges the upper-echelon officer class has enjoyed since the days of Sadat. I suspect that a juicy portion of the $1.3 billion in US aid is sticking to these officers’ fingers. They will not easily give up this golden-egg-laying goose and they will have America’s support in this endeavor — provided, always, that the generals do nothing to disturb Israel.

  9. What is happening in Egypt now is far complex than meets the eyes. There are may be three competing factors: Generals among the MC who want to oust Tantawy indirectly based on “popular demand”, this started a while ago when an “obsecure” group floated roomers about nominating him for presidency. All the while he was dismissing this as a roomer and insisting on elections on time.
    Then you have your “liberals” who are calling for a national government just to oust the Islamist or to be exact to circumvent possible parliamentary wins by Islamists.
    Finally you have your average Egyptian who is just fed up with all this nonsense and is trying his best to better his life and future.
    The battle now is to have free elections and this last round of violence was planned carefully to cast doubt on the results of any elections, which will thro wthe country again in a spin. This act definitely stands to benefit a dictator “in whatever form” civilian or in Uniform who may be currently seeking the green light from some international powers to be.
    The silmi declaration was just an enabling event.

  10. Regarding this claim that Kodimirpal makes that the capitalist nations want the developing world to be autocratic so that they can exploit them, I don’t think this stands up to scrutiny. The US made the Marshall Plan in order to stabilize democracy in Western Europe, and it succeeded. During the 1970’s, right-wing pro-American dictatorships in Spain, Portugal and Greece all became democracies, even though the US had extensive military interests in all three countries. In the 1980’s, Latin America, the US’s backyard in which it imposed the Monroe Doctrine for a century and a half, replaced right-wing military dictatorships with civilian democracies, some of which are not pro-American. The big exception which has been moving away from democracy is semi-authoritarian Venezuela which has a Left-wing, anti-American regime and yet it is an oil rich country. In the 1990’s, mineral-rich South Africa evolved into a democracy which is not in America’s pocket. In East Asia, authoritarian regimes in South Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines all became democracies, and the democracy in the Philippines even ordered the closing of the vast American military bases there. Thus, the claim that capitalist countries, particularly the US wants the third world to have autocratic regimes so that they can “exploit” them just doesn’t seem to explain the fact the Muslim nations have still not caught up with the rest of the world in democratization.

  11. Egypt is reminding me of the stepwise progress of the French Revolution. It need not end the same way – 1789 France and Egypt are very different – but the parallels are disturbing. The Egyptian generals would be wise to stop screwing around with this.

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