Brotherhood, Salafis, Camp out at Tahrir amid Thosands

On Thursday, protesters heeded the call of the Muslim Brotherhood to fill Tahrir Square with tens of thousands of protesters, as they continued to reject the martial law amendments to the constitution issued by the military last weekend.

In a new development, major leaders of the Muslim Right are setting up tents in the square in downtown Cairo and just camping out indefinitely. This tactic had been deployed in January and February of 2011 by the revolutionary, leftist youth who spearheaded the overthrow of dictator Hosni Mubarak.

Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, a fundamentalist who was disqualified from running for president because his mother had taken US citizenship, has gone to stay in a tent in Tahrir Square. He now says that it was a mistake on the part of supporters of the revolution to abandon the square and crowd tactics after February 11, the last, failed attempt at a general strike called for by the revolutionary youth. After that date, most Egyptians put their political energies into the race for president. Now, he is calling on Egyptians to stay in Tahrir until the military is successfully sent back to its barracks.

Brotherhood no. 2 man, Khairat al-Shatir insisted that even if their candidate loses, the Btotherhood will not turn to violence.. Rival Ahmad Shafiq charged that the Brotherhood was preparing violent tactics, and al-Shatir did not want to play into the hands of the old trick of branding the Brotherhood violent and then cracking down on it.

Posted in Egypt | 8 Responses | Print |

8 Responses

  1. It would appear Egyptians may have to start all over again. Leaving the square might not have been such a good idea after all. But then, the people may have felt every one was working in good faith. People who have to give up power rarely operate in good faith, once it goes against them.

    If the Muslim Brotherhood does not resort to violence then they will have taken a major step forward. It will clearly present itself to the world as a party which could govern. If the brotherhood continues to operate Eygpt as a secular state, I do not believe people will have much to worry about.

    governing Eygpt will be a fine balancing act. The old government members won’t be accepted & the army has provided some stability but they can not be the government for the long term. If the only group which can muster a majority, is the Muslim Brotherhood, then democracy has spoken. It will simply be up to the people to ensure the Muslim Brotherhood does not become another form of dictatorship.

  2. Algeria 2.0 developing here. Let’s also remind the world of that less known civil war in Algeria which cost the lives of 300,000 people. Unlike the civil war in Syria in which the US supports the rebels, in Algeria the US supported the military regime. The reason for the discrepancy, as is always the case with US foreign policy, is whether you kowtow to US hegemony or not. No other qualifications required.

    • Hosni Mubarak was quite happy to “kowtow to American hegemony.” So did Saleh in Yemen and Ben Ali in Tunisia. Even Gadhaffi had transformed himself into a good little pliable despot, abandoning his nascent nuclear program and cutting deals with western oil companies. Where are they now?

      Talking about “US foreign policy” without taking into account the differences between different administrations misses quite a bit. Obama’s stance towards Assad is, indeed, quite different from Clinton’s stance towards Algeria, but it is quite consistent with Obama’s own record.

      • I agree with Ron. Look at the difference between Obama’s policy toward Bahrain – where a peaceful democratic opposition movement is being crushed by foreign (Saudi) troops with US aid – and Yemen, where a militant and armed opposition is being fought by the US. If the Syrian government used the tactics we see in Yemen, there would be an uproar.

        • Actually, the U.S. played an essential role in getting President Saleh of Yemen removed. The Syrian government is using tactics quite a bit worse than anything we’re seeing in Yemen. And there is, indeed, a huge uproar about Syria.

          On the larger point, it’s certainly true that the difference between Obama’s foreign policy and that of his predecessors is quantitative, not qualitative. He’s showing more support for democratic reform, and his withdrawal of support for longtime American allies hasn’t been across the board.

          But it would be foolish to look at the actions, and more significantly the non-actions, of the administration in places like Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen and not recognize a rather striking difference from how, say, George Bush or Bill Clinton or the elder George Bush would have handled those situations. Movement in the right direction is still significant, even if it’s incomplete.

          Before there was Arab Spring, there was the lawyers’ uprising in Pakistan. The response of the Bush administration was to fearmonger about al Qaeda taking over the country, and back the Musharrif administration to the hilt. Suffice it to say, this is not the same stance that the Obama administration has taken towards the uprisings in the three North African countries.

        • It’s also worth mentioning that the situation in Yemen is not dualistic. There is the incumbent government, the al Qaeda linked militants, and the popular uprising. The US is at war with the latter. Both the “loyalist” and “dissident” forces have fought with the militants, sometimes actually working together. The American response to the actual popular uprising can best be described as trying to steer a reformist middle course between supporting the incumbent government and endorsing its removal.

  3. The answer here may be a coalition government composed of elements of each revolutionary faction; exclude representatives of the military and overly tainted Mubarak-era officials.

    It is becoming harder for people to rationalize the violent mentality that underpins militaries. The notion of committing “necessary evils” espoused by those believing conflict is an answer is simply incompatible with democracy. When there is a choice between nonviolent, determined political resistance and lying, self-righteous oligarchs that use Orwellian rhetoric to accuse their opponents of the very violence they engage in, the answer is clear.

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