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

 
 
JPB
 
  2  
Reply Sat 5 Feb, 2011 08:43 am
2.31pm: Reports on Egyptian state television today seem to be stressing that stability is returning to the country.

AP says it is possible that the regime thinks a resolution to the crisis can be reached without the immediate removal of Mubarak.

The comments by prime pinister Ahmed Shafiq on state TV suggest the government may calculate it can ride out protests and reach a deal with its opponents without Mubarak's ouster.

2.26pm:
Mustafa Khalili has just filed an update on the situation in Tahrir Square where soldiers appear to be taking a more aggresive stance towards the protesters.

The Egyptian army's attitude to the protests in Tahrir seems to have hardened somewhat today; this morning military cranes were sent in to remove some of the burnt out vehicles demonstrators had been using as barricades at the front line of their battle with pro-Mubarak supporters. However they were thwarted by dozens of protesters who lay down in front of the vehicles.

In response the army deployed four rows of troops and four tanks to create a 50 metre buffer zone between the frontline and the main body of protesters, although those in Tahrir are still able to travel the edge of no man's land and maintain their barricades at the opening of Abdel Munim Riyad square.

Many fear that the army are attempting to strip the protesters of the defences they have painstakingly constructed over the past week to protect themselves from hostile attacks. "If the army now withdraw at any point we will become sitting targets and suffer a lot of casualties," said Amr Radwan.

By 3pm this afternoon an army general flanked by a dozen soldiers had made their way to a clinic on the front line in what appeared to be an attempt by the military to shut the clinic down. He was quickly surrounded by a gaggle of doctors, journalists and protesters questioning his decision.
0 Replies
 
JPB
 
  1  
Reply Sat 5 Feb, 2011 09:02 am
From Al jazeera live blog:

4:50pm: The head of the army's central command speaks to the masses in Tahrir Square urging them to leave the square, they chant back at him "We are not leaving, He [Mubarak] is leaving".

Discussions now are wondering if the fact that a top military leader went into the crowd and failed to get them to leave will sway more of the general population away from the protesters.
0 Replies
 
JPB
 
  2  
Reply Sat 5 Feb, 2011 09:09 am

From the Guardian:

2.56pm: Somewhat contrary to Jack Shenker's earlier article about the consensus reached by Egyptian opposition groups over what should happen to bring about a transition of power, Reuters reports that they have yet to agree on a common position.

The proposal being promoted by a group of Egyptians calling itself the "The Council of Wise Men" involves Suleiman assuming presidential powers for an interim period pending elections.

But some opposition figures argue that would mean the next presidential election would be held under the same unfair conditions as in previous years. They want to first form a new parliament to change the constitution to pave the way for a presidential vote that is democratic.

The "Wise Men" proposal is based on article 139 of the constitution that would allow Mubarak to hand his powers to his deputy while staying on as figurehead.

"Under debate now is article 139 which transfers the president's executive powers to Omar Suleiman and Mubarak remains as a figurehead until September," Diaa Rashwan, an expert at the al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies and one of the "Wise Men", told Reuters.

Handing power to Suleiman offers a potential compromise between protesters' demands for Mubarak to leave office immediately and his stated decision to stay on until the end of his term in September.

Rashwan said all opposition factions and forces, including the influential Muslim Brotherhood, were invited to Saturday's talks. He said some groups have expressed reservations about the president staying on even in a symbolic role. "Consultations are continuing to find an end to this crisis," he added.

The main opposition groups comprise the Brotherhood, the National Coalition for Change led by Nobel peace laureate and former IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei, the Kefaya movement and youth represented by the April Sixth Movement, the liberal Wafd party and the leftist Tagammu party.

Even if they all agree on the proposal, article 82 of the constitution could present a legal complication. It says that while the president is able to delegate powers to a deputy, that person is not allowed to request constitutional amendments or dissolve the parliament or shura councils.

If that article holds, it would be impossible for a Suleiman-led administration to carry out the constitutional reforms promised by Mubarak in response to the protests.

Without constitutional changes, a presidential election in September would have to run under the same rules that opposition parties say stack all the cards in favour of Mubarak's ruling party and effectively rule out an effective rival bid.

The Brotherhood said discussions were still taking place a among the factions to seek a common ground.

"Until now there is no agreement among the various parties and factions on one scenario," Mohammed Morsy, a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood, told Reuters.

He said his Islamist group was proposing that the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court takes over power as stipulated by the constitution since parliament has been effectively suspended since the unrest erupted last month.

"The head of the supreme court will then call for parliamentary elections and the elected parliament can amend the necessary clauses in the constitution in order to conduct fair and honest presidential elections," Morsy said.

"Most of the clauses in the constitution concern the president ... The president has to go. We are trying to find a constitutional way out if the president is no longer in his post."
Lash
 
  1  
Reply Sat 5 Feb, 2011 10:16 am
@Endymion,
I think you've misunderstood something. The "foreigner" comment was a joke - oddly, the fact that you take it seriously gives it a wry resonance.

I have to agree that I'm not omniscient. I don't know everything that's been written on this site. If you would kindly direct me to your posts about Mubarak's oppressive regime or the current state in Egypt dating pre-revolution, you will have my sincere apology. I only know I haven't seen anything written about it here. Plus, I'm interested to see what you had to say.

Most people who live outside Egypt - likely those more removed from the region geographically - weren't aware of the nature of how Egyptians live from day to day - like me. Many countries ARE an on-going concern to me - but Egypt wasn't on that list.

Rest assured - I'm QUITE used to hearing criticism of my country - but when it's ridiculous by my standards....just mindlessly reflexive....then I say something about it. But, don't be concerned. I used to get angry years ago. I don't anymore. That doesn't mean I won't say something about it now and then - or question someone's rationale.

I also realize "this isn't about" my country. I'm thrilled about the prospect of increased freedom anywhere. It's a huge personal turn on. I did remember the forecasting of a domino effect of revolutions and moves toward democracy in the region - and it belonged here like everything else. It would have been a blip on this thread had not so many people commented.

I would like to see what you wrote about Egypt. I definitely missed it.
JTT
 
  -2  
Reply Sat 5 Feb, 2011 10:26 am
@Lash,
Quote:
I definitely missed it.


As you missed mine, Lash, ones that you pointedly requested, with a double dog dare. They are to be found on page 12 of this thread.

Cheers.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  7  
Reply Sat 5 Feb, 2011 10:37 am
Let's have a little more historical perspective here. Anwar Sadat became a hero to the Egyptian people because of the performance of the army in the 1973 war with Israel. The Egyptians crossed the Suez canal, established a bridgehead, and held it against every attack the Israelis could launch at them, and those attacks became more frenzied and drew off more of Israeli resources from their efforts in the West Bank and the Golan Heights. The Egyptians began calling Sadat "the Hero of the Crossing." Within a few years, those same people were using it as a sneer--"Hero of the Crossing, where are our jobs? Hero of the Crossing, where is our food?" It was against that backdrop, both that the Egyptians had performed so well against the Israelis (leverage with Israel) and the dissatisfaction with Sadat at home (leverage with Egypt) that Carter was able to broker the Camp David deal which gave the Sinai back to Egypt, and brought peace between those two countries. It (the Camp David Accords) also lead to the assassination of Sadat, and to Mubarak stepping into his office.

A good deal of the effort that Carter made was contingent on an offer of significant foreign aid to Egypt. In addition to the obvious results of the Accords, another was to have weaned Egypt away from dependence on the Soviet Union for military aid and expertise--the cold war was still on at that time. In effect, American aid became the replacement for that Soviet aid, and the eventual and inevitable result was that American aid became exclusively military--it was offered with no strings attached other than peace with Israel and abandonment of the special relationship with the Soviet Union.

To make the United States out to be a cynical and monstrous criminal for the aid given to Egypt is to ignore the dynamics of the situation in the 1970s, when Carter brokered a deal which has ended outright war between Israel and their "Arab" neighbors. Unfortunately, successive hawkish Israeli governments have taken this as an opportunity to interfer in the internal affairs of the Lebanon, with disastrous results for the Lebanon and Israel, not the least of which was the foundation of Hezbollah by the Persian Revolutionary Guard (the Lebanon is made up of many, many sects, Christian and Muslim--Twelver Shi'ites are the largest single sect in the Lebanon, so the relationship with the Persians, a majority Twelver Shi'ite nation, is not to be wondered at).

To say that the sincere effort of Carter, Sadat and Begin in 1978 was bad for the middle east would be ludicrous. To note that unintended consequences ensued is to peddle a truism--such unintended consequences are inevitable in any diplomatic negotiation. To go further and make the United States out to be a "Great Satan" because of those unintended consequences is simply an exercise in demonizing a nation of more than 300,000,000 people, most of whom were either not yet born or who were only toddlers when the Camp David Accords were negotiated. It is errant stupidity, and probably the consequence of a blind, unreasoning hatred of the United States and all things American.
JTT
 
  -1  
Reply Sat 5 Feb, 2011 11:03 am
@Setanta,
Quote:
To say that the sincere effort of Carter, Sadat and Begin in 1978 was bad for the middle east would be ludicrous.


You've only noted, Setanta, that every piece of scum has its price. The US did it for themselves. They did it at the expense of the Egyptian people. Your dog and pony show can't change that.

The billions spent probably amounted to peanuts considering the billions upon billions of profits from ME oil revenues.

You wanna see peace. Let's try a little experiment. Let's install a dictator in the US, pay him big bucks and have him contain US imperialism. Not just ME peace, world peace. Think of all those Central and South American countries that would heave a huge sigh of relief.

There'd be dancing in the streets worldwide.
0 Replies
 
JPB
 
  1  
Reply Sat 5 Feb, 2011 11:15 am
4:12pm: Egyptian state television has announced that Mubarak has resigned as head of the ruling party.

Lots more to come...
0 Replies
 
JPB
 
  1  
Reply Sat 5 Feb, 2011 11:18 am
4:45pm: More on the report that Mubarak has resigned as head of the ruling party. An NDP party official told Reuters he could not confirm the report by al-Arabiya television. But the official added that if this was the case it would not affect his position as president.

"These are two different positions," the official told Reuters.

4.42pm: Egypt's army is working with the west to remove Mubarak from power in return for keeping its influence over the country's political system, Reuters reports.

Robert Springborg, professor of national security affairs at the US Naval Postgraduate School, said the army was manipulating the situation by dragging out a resolution of the crisis.

He said the army's aim was to focus the anger of the uprising against Mubarak rather than the military.

It's political jujitsu on the part of the military to get the crowd worked up and focused on Mubarak and then he will be offered as a sacrifice in some way. And in the meantime the military is seen as the saviours of the nation.

The military will engineer a succession. The west – the US and EU – are working to that end.
We are working closely with the military … to ensure a continuation of a dominant role of the military in the society, the polity and the economy."
0 Replies
 
JPB
 
  1  
Reply Sat 5 Feb, 2011 11:19 am
From Al Jazeera:

5:36pm: The leadership of Egypt's ruling National Democratic Party resigns, including Gamal Mubarak, the son of Hosni Mubarak. The new secretary general of the party is Hossam Badrawi, seen as a member of the liberal wing of the party.
0 Replies
 
JPB
 
  0  
Reply Sat 5 Feb, 2011 11:21 am
From the Telegraph


16.58 Cairo dispatch - the latest from our correspondent Colin Freeman.

"Concern is now growing that the mini-civil war played out so publicly in Tahrir Square last week may yet engulf the rest of the country, exposing deep political, economic and religious divisions which 30 years of iron rule under Mr Mubarak has kept dormant."


16.48 Still confusion over whether Hosni Mubarak has actually resigned as NDC chief. The BBC says:

It follows from the state TV report that President Mubarak is still in charge - he accepted the resignations and made the new appointments himself, it says. He accepted the resignations and made the new appointments himself, it says. One of the most significant resignations, of course, is that of his son Gamal.
revelette
 
  1  
Reply Sat 5 Feb, 2011 11:31 am
@JPB,
1726: Al-Arabiya television retracts its report that President Mubarak resigned as head of the ruling party - Reuters.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12307698
0 Replies
 
Finn dAbuzz
 
  2  
Reply Sat 5 Feb, 2011 11:36 am
@Endymion,
For someone who seems to disdain presumption, you presume much and often.

First of all there is not a shred of presumption in the statement of mine that you quoted, unless you believe that sitting in your living room you can somehow control the events in Egypt with your sanctimony.

Secondly, the post from which you took the quote makes no judgment on the source or sincerity of empathy, but suggests that such empathy can impair objectivity. Do you consider that presumptuous?

Obviously people have died and will continue to die and it is the height of presumption to suggest that anyone doesn't know that or, more importantly, doesn't care, but I guess when you reside at the height of self-satisfaction, it's easy to look down and sneer at all those who cannot hope to match your rectitude.

Another fine presumption of yours is that I "expect" Egyptians to tolerate the oppression that they have experienced and then to suggest such expectations are born of racism.

You can expect what you will of the Egyptian people and your expectations may actually coincide with many of theirs. I'm sure the families of those who die in these protests, including those Egyptians who simply find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time, will take great comfort knowing that a romantic freedom lover in the UK believes he can feel their pain, and honors their sacrifice.

I am well aware of what has been going on in Egypt under Mubarak (despite more of your presumption on that score), but why do I have this feeling that you are one of those noble souls that believes the US should not consider itself the police force of the world. If, I'm wrong I will stand corrected, but, in any case, you seem to think we all have a duty to deeply care about all the suffering in the world, as if that will somehow result in positive changes.

Living with the angst born of the suffering of millions and millions of souls must be an enormous spiritual burden. I'm amazed you find the time to visit A2K and chastise a sociopath such as me.

Endymion is actually quite an apt moniker for you to have adopted, although by the scope of your self-regard I'm surprised you didn't chose Nemesis...but that may have presented a gender problem for you.

I have repeatedly stated my admiration and hopes for the reformist movement in Egypt, but I guess you would have me suspend all that I have seen and learned about events such as this one, and join in the chanting of anti-Mubarak slogans and concentrate on sending good vibes their way. Sorry, but we are not all Egyptians today, and it is perfectly reasonable, and moral, to view what is going on without immersing oneself in a passionate fervor for the Egyptian people.

If you wish to be a cheerleader, be my guest. It's certainly quite easy to urge people to die or destroy their lives for a freedom you cherish when you are sitting in front of a computer in the comfort of your flat in London.

But this is such a high-tech revolution, why don't you fly over there and join them behind their barricades and you castigate me from the thick of things? While you dodge Molotov cocktails, bullets and machetes your scolding might actually amount to something more than the braying of a punk dilettante.
revelette
 
  2  
Reply Sat 5 Feb, 2011 11:45 am
@Finn dAbuzz,
If a victim of bullying find his or her courage and stands up to his or her bully and people on the sidelines encourage it, are they responsible if the bully bloodies the victim on the nose? Should they just remain silent in the hopes that the victim just backs down and remains bullied so that he or she won't get a bloody nose?
revelette
 
  2  
Reply Sat 5 Feb, 2011 11:50 am
Quote:
1737: The BBC's Frank Muir analyses today's changes in the ruling party: "The removal of Gamal Mubarak as the party's bureau chief and of Safwat Al Sharif as its secretary general is a highly significant development. Protesters regarded it as the latest in a series of concessions which make them believe their cause it slowly making headway. Safwat Sharif was for long a major figure in Hosni Mubarak's power circle. Both his and Gamal Mubarak's jobs are now taken by Hossam Badrawi, who has a reputation as a moderate. Despite the dramatic development, protesters in the square continue to insist that they'll only pack up and go home when Mr Mubarak himself steps down from the presidency."


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12307698

I personally doubt what I cheer from the safety of my living room makes a difference to those up above one way or another on their decision of whether to remain. They seem pretty determined and it would be pretty heartbreaking to see them back down now after all this they have already been through.
0 Replies
 
JPB
 
  1  
Reply Sat 5 Feb, 2011 11:54 am
@JPB,
From an earlier, longer post...

Quote:
Even if they all agree on the proposal, article 82 of the constitution could present a legal complication. It says that while the president is able to delegate powers to a deputy, that person is not allowed to request constitutional amendments or dissolve the parliament or shura councils.

If that article holds, it would be impossible for a Suleiman-led administration to carry out the constitutional reforms promised by Mubarak in response to the protests.

Without constitutional changes, a presidential election in September would have to run under the same rules that opposition parties say stack all the cards in favour of Mubarak's ruling party and effectively rule out an effective rival bid.


So... one of the complaints of letting Mubarak transfer power to a deputy is that a deputy can't call for constitutional changes and without constitutional changes, a free democratic vote won't take place because the NDP has to vet all opposition party candidates.

If the NDP leadership is now being replaced with liberal members, might this be an attempt to throw the protesters a bone so that they'll accept the transfer of power proposal which allows Mubarak to be a figurehead president until September?
0 Replies
 
georgeob1
 
  0  
Reply Sat 5 Feb, 2011 12:03 pm
@revelette,
revelette wrote:

If a victim of bullying find his or her courage and stands up to his or her bully and people on the sidelines encourage it, are they responsible if the bully bloodies the victim on the nose? Should they just remain silent in the hopes that the victim just backs down and remains bullied so that he or she won't get a bloody nose?

I think you are oddly confusing subjective and objective factors here. If someone "on the sidelines" silently supports the victim in his thoughts, wishes or murmured wispers to those around him, but takes no detectable (to the victim) overt action to support or encourage the victim, then he has done nothing of significance either way. He can neither claim virtue if the victim succeeds nor shame if he is again slapped down. I think reading the reports, discussing the issue here and like activities IS equivalent to remaining silent unless one actually does something to meaningfully influence the outcome.
Setanta
 
  3  
Reply Sat 5 Feb, 2011 12:05 pm
@georgeob1,
I would be interested to know exactly what one can expect anyone here to do?
Finn dAbuzz
 
  0  
Reply Sat 5 Feb, 2011 12:09 pm
@revelette,
revelette wrote:

If a victim of bullying find his or her courage and stands up to his or her bully and people on the sidelines encourage it, are they responsible if the bully bloodies the victim on the nose? Should they just remain silent in the hopes that the victim just backs down and remains bullied so that he or she won't get a bloody nose?


But you are not physically standing on the sidelines in Cairo and so whether you issue encouragement or caution is irrelevant. If the events in Cairo end up in a major bloodbath, it won't be your fault or the fault of anyone who supports them, and I never suggested it would be. I merely suggested that if it does end up in an horrific way, some of you may reconsider whether standing their ground was the right thing to do.

As for your analogy, if there is good reason to believe that the bully will not just bloody his target's nose, but stave his head in, then your encouragement would be totally irresponsible, and standing silently on the sidelines would be cowardly. The proper response would be to prevent the fight or join the target in overcoming the bully.

Mubarak and his thugs are not schoolyard bullies.
JPB
 
  2  
Reply Sat 5 Feb, 2011 12:11 pm
6.03pm: Reuters and the BBC report that the US's special envoy for Egypt has said Hosni Mubarak must stay in power for the time being to steer changes needed for political transition.

"We need to get a national consensus around the pre-conditions for the next step forward. The president must stay in office to steer those changes," Frank Wisner told the Munich Security Conference.

More from Frank Wisner, via AP:

A US envoy who met President Hosni Mubarak earlier this week says his continued leadership is "crucial" for now as Egypt heads into a transition to democracy.

Frank Wisner was dispatched to Cairo on Monday. He said Saturday that "we're by no means out of the woods but at least a path is opening" toward a peaceful transition.

He said by video link from New York to a security conference in Munich: "I believe that President Mubarak's continued leadership is crucial it's his chance to write his own legacy."

Wisner, a former ambassador to Egypt, says Mubarak now faces the "huge responsibility" of leading the country into a transition without resorting to force.




I'm not at all convinced that the folks in the square are much interested in letting him write his own legacy.
 

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