Monday, January 31, 2011

Good News out of Egypt

Here is the upside of the revolt:

I have to temper the optimism by pointing out that this was a video done by an English-speaking news organization with locals having English signs. That undercuts the 'authenticity' of the moment being recorded. But hopefully my cynicism is misplaced and this is a broader feeling among the people.

I remain deeply skeptical that real change can come peacefully. The longer Mubarak clings to power, the more likely it will require real force to remove him. But maybe I'm wrong. Here is a very recent news report from Reuters via the Guardian blog on news from Egypt:
Now Reuters confirms earlier reports about the Egyptian army's stance, and the army's statement that it would not use force against Egyptians staging protests demanding that Mubarak step down: According to Reuters:
[The army's statement] said "freedom of expression" was guaranteed to all citizens using peaceful means.

It was the first such explicit confirmation by the army that it would not fire at demonstrators who have taken to the streets of Egypt since last week to try to force Mubarak to quit.

"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," the army statement said.

"Your armed forces, who are aware of the legitimacy of your demands and are keen to assume their responsibility in protecting the nation and the citizens, affirms that freedom of expression through peaceful means is guaranteed to everybody."

It urged people not resort to acts of sabotage that violate security and destroy public and private property. It warned that it would not allow outlaws and to loot, attack and "terrorise citizens".
This solves half the equation. The question now is whether the Army will provide the push to get the stubborn Mubarak out. I do believe violence will be required but it now looks less like a bloodbath of civilians but more of a palace putsch to remove Mubarak, his inner circle, and the palace guards.

And here is some good news for Egypt coming from the US. Jimmy Carter clearly states that Mubarak has to leave office. From an article in The Nation:
Jimmy Carter, who knows the dynamics of the Middle East better than any US president, former or current, predicts that popular opposition to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has grown so intense that “he will have to leave.”

While President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have sent mixed signals since anti-Mubarak and pro-democracy demonstrations—not always the same thing—erupted across Egypt a week ago, Carter is blunt about what he refers to as the “earthshaking” events that are sweeping the Middle East.

And the former president is warning US officials to get on the right side of those events.

“The United States wants Mubarak to stay in power, but the people have decided,” says the former president, who in the late 1970s oversaw the negotiations that established a peace agreement between Egypt and Israel.
Unfortunately Carter goes on to make known that he favours Suleiman as the successor. But it is clear from the street that ElBaradei nas the nod for interim leader. Hopefully ElBaradei is smart enough to now want to hold power but to purely serve as an interim leader working to allow an orderly succession of power to a people's choice.

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