Monday, January 31, 2011

Egypt’s uprising reaches point of no return

January 28, 2011, 1800 DST
Crescent-online, Washington DC

The fourth day of protests in Egypt has reached “the point of no return,” as numerous commentators on the street have noted. President Mubarak recently imposed a country-wide curfew, bringing in the military to complete the job that the police force failed to do—contain the Egyptian population’s mass protests. 

Late on Friday (January 28), Mubarak announced that he had sacked the government (led by Prime Minister Nazif) but that he would enforce "security". He also refused to resign. The military has been called out in all cities to enforce curfew but people are defying it. Egypt's Armed Forces Chief of Staff, Lt. General Sami Hafez Enan, in Washington to meet Pentagon officials cut short his visit and flew back home on January 28.

Press TV and Al Jazeera are reporting on Egypt around the clock, as the world waits with bated breath to see whether the revolution is able to oust Mubarak after an unprecedented 30-year reign. As Marc Ginsberg, former US ambassador to Morocco, put it in a recent editorial in the Huffington Post, the US is looking at the most likely options that will prevail in Egypt after Mubarak’s departure: “either ‘a relative unknown’ or ‘our worst nightmare.’” Translation: either Elbaradei or the Muslim Brotherhood. 

The protests that erupted after Fridy prayers (perhaps influenced by infusions from the Muslim Brotherhood, which announced on Thursday that they will support the popular revolt) have been the most determined. Mubarak was forced to call in the military and has shut off internet services, as well as Al-Jazeera’s Arabic News broadcasting. However, Egyptians across the country are defying the curfew—government buildings and police stations have been set on fire, Mubarak’s party headquarters have been overtaken in several cities, and the people are continuing to demonstrate into the night. The cost—870 people wounded and (according to latest reports) 14 killed. The next few hours will prove crucial for predicting the results of the revolution. 

Press TV has interviewed the UK spokesperson for the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammad Ghanem, who has stated that the demonstrations represent the collective will of the Egyptian people, rather than a particular religious denomination. Nevertheless, mosques and churches have proven to be key sites of organization in Egypt. Before Mubarak’s government shut down Internet services, protesters listed the names of mosques and churches where organizing for the demonstrations would be taking place. 

Around the world, people have organized demonstrations to express solidarity with Egypt, as it attempts to throw off the most brutal dictators in the Middle East. Protesters have congregated outside of Egyptian embassies in Tunis, Ankara, Los Angeles, and London. 

Similar demonstrations have been planned for Berlin (Germany) and Toronto, and Vancouver (in Canada). On behest of the United States, Kuwait dispatched troops to surround the Egyptian embassy to prevent demonstrations. The United States is publicly urging government forces to show “restraint” and allow demonstrators to protest peacefully. This appears to be a move to save face, and salvage the impending end of one of their prime Middle Eastern bases. Israel, on the other hand, has been urging Mubarak’s regime to use force to quell the uprising. In a recent turn of events, the US has also begun to publicly back ElBaradei as an effort to maneuver him to take over after (and if) Mubarak leaves the country. The US is praising ElBaradei and stating that government policy of keeping him under house arrest “has to change”.

No comments: