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Tunesia, Egyt and now Yemen: a domino effect in the Middle East?

 
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  0  
Reply Fri 28 Jan, 2011 12:36 pm
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:

Quite apart from that, you're ignoring that Mubarek is not gone, and if he turns the army loose on the demonstrators, he may well not be going anywhere.


But he didn't make his tv-speech as announced more than three hours ago .... .... and he (?) has turned the army loose on the demonstrators already
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Jan, 2011 12:42 pm
The situation in Egypt presents quite a dilemma for the Obama administration.

Hopefully, they will handle it better than they did the ill fated popular uprising in Iran.

Joe Biden can be seen on TV saying, with a straight face, that he would not call Mubarak a dictator. Of course he won't, but not because he doesn't think the Egyptian strongman is not a dictator; he won't because the US government is unable to predict what will happen in Egypt and can't afford to alienate an eventually triumphant Mubarak.

This has been the nasty bargain the US has struck in the Middle East for decades and through numerous Republican and Democratic administrations: Human rights for perceived stability.

It's somewhat ironic that the one president who, arguably, departed from the bargain has been branded a war criminal by the folks who reliably express displeasure with our government propping up Middle Eastern dictators for the sake of "stability" in the region and the continued flow of oil.

In any case, it's now Obama's chance to shine in the sun.

The short lived Iranian Revolution made clear either just how tricky international politics are or how far Obama is in over his head.

In Iran we had a true democratic populist uprising against an Islamist theocracy. Surely there were political opportunists involved in the "rebellion," but it was about as clear as it gets as to which group were the Good Guys and which were the Bad Guys. Obama, however, decided to keep the US and his office out of the picture for the sake of preserving his failed plan of engagement with the Iranian regime.

The democratic uprising was brutally crushed, and Iran continues on its path to nuclear weapons.

His apologists will argue that he couldn't afford to signal support for the uprising, for fear that it would provide the regime with anti-American ammunition. He didn't signal support, the regime accused the rebels of ties with the US, and crushed them all the same.

Now he is faced with an even more complex situation:
• Mubarak is clearly a dictator, but as the saying goes, "he's our
dictator"
• Thanks to billions of American dollars, Egypt is an "ally" of Israel.
• El Baradei and other possible democratic reformers are at play,
but so is the Muslim Brotherhood, and it is far more likely that
should Mubarak fall, the latter rather than the former will
ultimately control the country.

Attempting to get ahead of the curve and weigh in on the side of democratic reformers is the right thing to do but risky. Not only will it backfire if Mubarak retains power, but it is more likely to facilitate an Islamist state than a democratic one. It's difficult to imagine the US doing whatever it takes to keep Egypt a democracy, when the popular Islamist forces make their move.

I suspect the Administration is quietly hoping Mubarak will put down the current uprising; fully aware that it will require brutal force to do so, and I'm not so sure that such an outcome isn't, at this time, in the best interests of the US.

I would love to see democracy take hold in Egypt, but would hate to see it become another Iran or Syria, and I do think the odds are better for the latter than the former.

One thing is for sure, many of the politicians and pundits who would be holding a Republican president's feet to the fire for supporting a dictator, will suddenly develop an appreciation for real politik. To be fair though, there will be conservatives of the same sorts who will criticize Obama whatever he does.


OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Jan, 2011 12:43 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
Setanta wrote:
Quite apart from that, you're ignoring that Mubarek is not gone, and if he turns the army loose on the demonstrators, he may well not be going anywhere.
Walter Hinteler wrote:
But he didn't make his tv-speech as announced more than three hours ago .... .... and he (?)
has turned the army loose on the demonstrators already
What happened when he turned the army loose on the demonstrators already ?
JPB
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Jan, 2011 12:47 pm
Confusion reigns.

6:42pm: Apparently, bizarrely, it's the president's national guard being cheered through the streets of Cairo as they make their way to the state TV station, which has been taken over by protesters.

The Egyptian museum, full of priceless artefacts, is said to be at risk from the fire at the NDP headquarters.

6.39pm: The army are being cheered as they pass in tanks/armoured cars in Cairo by protesters who are clambering on to the vehicles.
Walter Hinteler
 
  0  
Reply Fri 28 Jan, 2011 12:51 pm
@OmSigDAVID,
OmSigDAVID wrote:

What happened when he turned the army loose on the demonstrators already ?
[/quote]

Not quite sure: the state tv station is burning, but it has been reported that the program is still aired.

Several deaths are reported ... by alarabiya, which I can't follow anymore because their twitter site seems to be totally overloaded.
JPB
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Jan, 2011 12:57 pm
@JPB,
Apparently the army is not enforcing the curfew and the protesters are cheering the army.

The army was ordered into the streets, they are in the streets, but they have taken no action so far.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  0  
Reply Fri 28 Jan, 2011 12:58 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
I hadn't seen that. All i've seen and heard is that the police have been battling the demonstrators.
0 Replies
 
OmSigDAVID
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Jan, 2011 12:58 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
OmSigDAVID wrote:
What happened when he turned the army loose on the demonstrators already ?
Walter Hinteler wrote:
Not quite sure: the state tv station is burning,
but it has been reported that the program is still aired.

Several deaths are reported ... by alarabiya, which I can't follow anymore
because their twitter site seems to be totally overloaded.
It does not look too good for Mubarek.
Maybe he can take refuge in a Pyramid.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  0  
Reply Fri 28 Jan, 2011 12:59 pm
If the army follows Mubarek's orders, he's not going anywhere. If they defy him, he's fucked. In the 1917 Russian revolution, the police fled and the government collapsed when Cossacks in Petrograd refused to charge the crowds.
JPB
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Jan, 2011 01:02 pm
Summary from the Guardian blog

President Hosni Mubarak has ordered a curfew in three cities (3.30pm), later extended to the entire country, which was supposed to start at 6pm today and last until 7am tomorrow morning but it has been roundly ignored as clashes have continued.

Mubarak has sent in the army to restore order in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez but protesters cheered the army in some areas, calling on them to side with them against the police (3.43 pm). In some areas the army has done so. Soldiers have shaken hands with protesters in Alexandria and in Cairo. Demonstrators have clambered onto tanks in Suez and Cairo. There have also been unconfirmed reports of clashes between the army and police

There have been unconfirmed reports of many protesters killed today, including a woman in Tahrir square in Cairo, two people in Suez, one named as Hamada Labib, 30, a driver., one person in Alexandria and a 14-year-old in Port Said.

In the country's strongest intervention so far, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton said the US is "deeply concerned about the use of violence by Egyptian police and security forces against protestors". (5.12pm)

Some police are reported to have joined the protesters, who welcomed them to their ranks. (5.05pm)

Police immediately attacked protesters after Friday prayers (11.12am) but protesters remained defiant and fought back, overwhelming police and government buildings right across the country. The ruling NDP's party headquarters in Cairo were set on fire (4.23pm). Source
Walter Hinteler
 
  0  
Reply Fri 28 Jan, 2011 01:04 pm
Quote:
CAIRO | Fri Jan 28, 2011 1:35pm EST
Jan 28 (Reuters) - A convoy of armoured vehicles drove through a Cairo street while crowds cheered them on Friday night after a day of protests calling for an end to President Hosni Mubarak's rule, live television footage showed.

The images, broadcast by Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya news channels, showed a soldier standing in the gun turret of the lead vehicle.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  0  
Reply Fri 28 Jan, 2011 01:05 pm
@JPB,
On CBC, they interviewed an Egyptian graduate student who said that many members of the police are conscripted, and not necessarily in sympathy with the government policies they are supposed to enforce.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  0  
Reply Fri 28 Jan, 2011 01:10 pm
@JPB,
JPB wrote:

There have been unconfirmed reports of many protesters killed today, including a woman in Tahrir square in Cairo, two people in Suez, one named as Hamada Labib, 30, a driver., one person in Alexandria and a 14-year-old in Port Said.


EOHR (Egyptian Organization of Human Rights) reported three persons were killed by police Friday, bringing the number of deaths to seven since the protests began on 25 January. Hundreds more are said to have been wounded, and at least 1,200 protesters to have been arrested.
0 Replies
 
JTT
 
  0  
Reply Fri 28 Jan, 2011 01:14 pm
Where are all the USAers whining about people being killed now? Are these people not being killed because of US support for a brutal dictator?

Caught between your hypocrisy and your perfidy.
0 Replies
 
JPB
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Jan, 2011 01:18 pm
The Guardian blog has been taken over for the next few hours by the an American bureau staffer and has taken a more American perspective.

Here's the latest -
Quote:
The US State Department has said that US citizens should postpone non-essential travel to Egypt and urged US citizens in the country to "exercise caution". The State Department also says Americans should not try to go to the US embassy since Egyptian security forces may block off the area around the embassy.
JTT
 
  2  
Reply Fri 28 Jan, 2011 01:23 pm
@JPB,
Here's more -

Quote:
The US State Department has said that US citizens should build a papyrus raft and paddle either into the Mediterranean Sea or upriver to Lake Victoria.

JPB
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Jan, 2011 01:27 pm
@JTT,
I had the same thought, JTT.
0 Replies
 
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Fri 28 Jan, 2011 01:31 pm
Am I mistaken or didn't Chinese soldiers temporarily side with protestors at Tiananmen Square?

If Mubarak loses the police and the military he is, obviously, toast, but despite some of these reports, that remains to be seen.

He has ruled for 30 years and so we can assume he's fairly adept at consolidating and protecting his power. It's unlikely he could do so without the loyalty (probably purchased) of at least an elite segment of the military.

The conscripts shaking hands in the streets may not enforce the curfew or follow an order to fire on a crowd, but will they take up arms against hard baked professionals whose futures depend heavily on Mubarak remaining in control?
JPB
 
  2  
Reply Fri 28 Jan, 2011 01:35 pm
More updates -

Time magazine talks to "a minister in the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu," and reports that Israel appears to be backing the Mubarak regime:

With a deep investment in the status quo, Israel is watching what a senior official calls "an earthquake in the Middle East" with growing concern. The official says the Jewish state has faith in the security apparatus of its most formidable Arab neighbor, Egypt, to suppress the street demonstrations that threaten the dictatorial rule of President Hosni Mubarak. The harder question is what comes next.

But this was the most eye-catching quote from the unidentified minister:

"I'm not sure the time is right for the Arab region to go through the democratic process."

7.26pm GMT: Reuters is now reporting a witness saying that the army has dispersed the protesters who tried to storm Egypt's state television building in central Cairo.

The Al Arabiya network had earlier reported that demonstrators had forced their way in, but the state television channel was broadcasting throughout.
Walter Hinteler
 
  0  
Reply Fri 28 Jan, 2011 01:39 pm
@JPB,
From the BBC blog (by Mark Mardell, the BBC's North America editor):
Quote:
There seems little doubt the US administration is playing catch-up, and is in a very awkward position. It is not ready to abandon its octogenarian ally of 30 years, but it is urging him to change and change quickly. This is all moving very quickly but at the moment both the White House and the US state department are being ignored by their allies, while not going far enough to make new friends.
0 Replies
 
 

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