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Archive for January, 2011

The Egyptian Army at Crunchtime

January 31st, 2011 Comments off

The Egyptian Army today issued a statement that includes the following:

The presence of the army in the streets is for your sake and to ensure your safety and wellbeing. The armed forces will not resort to use of force against our great people.

While warning against acts of sabotage and terrorism, the Army statement reaffirmed that freedom of expression is everyone’s right.

Coming as it does amid many rumors of an imminent crackdown — tanks blocking access to Midan Tahrir, concrete barricades going up — the Army seems to be trying to reassure the demonstrators. Of course, it isn’t clear who is speaking for the Army from the reports so far.

It could, of course, be misreported, and indeed one can argue about its meaning, but it would appear to reassure Tahrir will not become Tienanmen.

And if that’s the case, Husni Mubarak probably should start planning a graceful exit before he has a Ben Ali-style search for an airport that would let him land.

It isn’t exactly “Communique Number One,” the traditional announcement of a military coup, but it may someday be seen as the turning point of this crisis.

In the 1980s I dealt with the Egyptian Army quite a bit, and will have a lot more to say on the subject. For now, I’m struck by the fact that in most of the radio and press interviews I’ve done the past few days, I’ve been asked about the Muslim Brotherhood, which seems to be the focus of many American reporters. The Army is by far the more important player, at least at this crunch moment, and perhaps the likely bridging institution for a transition of power.

And now such a scenario seems even more likely. The Army has chosen not too sully the high regard Egyptians have for it (and perhaps keeping $1.3 billion in US military aid was also a motive). The 35,000 Tunisian Armed Forces managed to midwife the departure of Ben Ali. Egypt’s Armed Forces, some 450,000 strong and the world’s tenth largest active force, were always critical to the outcome here. If this is really their position, things could move quickly now.


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Other despots should quail

January 31st, 2011 Comments off


We’ve Waited For This Revolution For Years. Other Despots Should Quail
By Mona Eltahawy, The Observer, January 29, 2011,

My birth at the end of July 1967 makes me a child of the naksa, or setback, as the Arab defeat during the June 1967 war with Israel is euphemistically known in Arabic. My parents’ generation grew up high on the Arab nationalism that Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser brandished in the 1950s. But we “Children of the Naksa”, hemmed in by humiliation, have spent so much of our lives uncomfortably stepping into pride’s large, empty shoes.

But here now finally are our children – Generation Facebook – kicking aside the burden of history, determined to show us just how easy it is to tell the dictator it’s time to go.

To understand the importance of what’s going in Egypt, take the barricades of 1968 (for a good youthful zing), throw them into a mixer with 1989 and blend to produce the potent brew that the popular uprising in Egypt is preparing to offer the entire region. It’s the most exciting time of my life.

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Day of Wrath no. 7 in Egypt

January 31st, 2011 Comments off

50,000 protesters in Tahrir Square on 7th day of Wrath, as Muslim Brotherhood backs off Elbaradei endorsement.

Army fires heavy artillery warning shots in air in Alexandria. A bad thing if it is a sign of things to come.

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"Post-Mubarak transition" as seen in Washington …

January 31st, 2011 Comments off

“…. “Omar Suleiman and Tantawi think that the critical thing for the future of Egypt is that there be no confrontation between the military and the people,” said Cohen, president of the Institute for Middle East Peace and Development and a former consultant to the National Intelligence Council. “Their thinking is, if there is a split between the popular will and the military, the whole state of Egypt no longer has its basis of legitimacy.” 

 

That judgment is significant, Cohen said: “By saying that there cannot be a confrontation between the military and the demonstrators, they are basically telling Mubarak the game is over for him.” The assessment came as the Egyptian army issued a formal statement Monday saying that it would not use force against the Egyptian people …..  Tantawi and Suleiman “have different ideas about how the transition can take place,” Cohen said….”

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January 31st, 2011 Comments off
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Senior US Official: "I don’t think there’s any kind of pressure on President Mubarak to enact reforms…"

January 31st, 2011 Comments off


“… In a Feb. 26, 2007, interview with Lamees El-Hadidi of Egyptian Television Channel One, Ricciardone was asked what kind of pressure the U.S. government was placing on Mubarak to enact human rights and political reform. He said there was none. “I don’t think there’s any kind of pressure. There’s an exchange of ideas and advice between friends within an atmosphere of constant dialogue, so I don’t think there’s any kind of pressure,” Ricciardone said….”

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Gazan inmates home after escaping Egypt jail (AFP)

January 31st, 2011 Comments off

Palestinian Ramiz Weshah hugs his relatives upon his arrival to his house in Gaza Strip's al-Bureij refugee camp after escaping the Abu Zaabal jail on January 30. Six Palestinian prisoners who broke out of prison in Egypt during the chaos there have reached the Gaza Strip, a prisoners' family liaison group said on Monday.(AFP/File/Mahmud Hams)AFP – Six Palestinian prisoners who broke out of prison in Egypt during the chaos there have reached the Gaza Strip, a prisoners’ family liaison group said on Monday.

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Huckabee: Israel can build in West Bank, Jerusalem (AP)

January 31st, 2011 Comments off

With an Israeli flag in the background, former Arkansas Gov. and Republican presidential contender Mike Huckabee speaks in Beit Oron, east Jerusalem, Monday, Jan. 31, 2011. Likely 2012 U.S. presidential contender Mike Huckabee says preventing Jewish settlers from building in east Jerusalem is as outrageous as discriminating against Americans because of their race, language or religion. Huckabee spoke at the dedication of a new Jewish neighborhood in east Jerusalem, which is claimed by the Palestinians. (AP Photos/Bernat Armangue)AP – Potential 2012 U.S. presidential candidate Mike Huckabee told Jewish settlers Monday that attempts to prevent them from building in east Jerusalem are as outrageous as housing discrimination in the United States.

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Egypt army rules out using force

January 31st, 2011 Comments off

Egypt’s army vows it will not use force against demonstrators, as the government says it is preparing to open talks with the opposition.
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EU sanctions on Tunisia ex-leader

January 31st, 2011 Comments off

The EU freezes the assets of ousted Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben and his wife after a request from the country’s new leaders.
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