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CHAOS ON THE STREETS OF CAIRO February 3, 2011

Posted by wmmbb in Middle East, North Africa.
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It appears that the pro-Mubarak supporters have attacked the anti-government protesters in Cairo with the objective of taking over Tahrir Square.

The supporters of Murbarak have it has been reported included police. The army has stood by and done nothing, possibly because that was the intention and because they are not trained to deal with this situation. This means that the army has lost prestige in the eyes of the regime protesters.

Mubarak and the power elite around him appear not to have a coherent strategy other than violence. The pictures on Al Jazeera appear to show both sides engaging in the rock throwing. There were scenes showing smoke which appear to have been tear gas, suggesting that supporters of Mubarak included police.

From Mubarak’s camp point of view they probably see the violence as shoring up their position.They are hoping to re-establish fear and domination. This is a short term strategy to allow them to retain power. In the long term – and far shorter than they envisage – they are guaranteeing that they will not be allowed to leave. There will need to be some form of peace and reconciliation process.

Al Jazeera provides a summary of what was observed.

It is not quite the case that “peaceful demonstrations turned violent”. I have tended to ignore the statements US public officials. I don’t share Robert Fisk’s judgement that President Obama’s stance was cowardice, but just regular political behavior. AIPAC cannot be ignored. But is the White House lost on Egypt:

I must admit I had not previously heard of “Anglo-Saxon globalization”.

Juan Cole gives a step by step process of the regime’s strategy. This government is the lynchpin of US policy in the Arab Middle East.

ABC News summarizes the situation as it now exists, and it seems that people are still determined to stand their ground against the violence unleashed by the regime.

Chris Floyd refused to adopt a sanguine view:

What is happening seems clear: Mubarak, backed by Obama, has decided to foment a storm of bloodshed, chaos and fear in order to provide a justification for “restoring order” – i.e., crushing the uprising by force. This course could not have been adopted without the support of the Cairo regime’s patrons and paymasters in Washington. None of this should come as a surprise. From the very beginning, the administration of Barack Obama, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has been killing people – most of them defenseless civilians – all over the world to advance a brutal agenda of militarist domination and the enrichment of corrupt elites.

For decades, a pliant regime in Egypt has been a linchpin of this thoroughly bipartisan agenda. Obama’s task now is to preserve this arrangement if at all possible. Mubarak himself doesn’t matter; he’s now become a liability to the operation of business as usual. But the power structures in Washington and Cairo can’t afford to have him simply forced from office by popular will; what kind of example would that set? Instead they will seek to use the months until Mubarak’s envisaged retirement in September to beat down the uprising by overt means – as we are seeing on the streets of Egypt’s cities today – and covert means, with the piecemeal arrest of various dissident leaders and other crackdowns on activities that might “threaten public order.”

Al Jazeera reports from Tahrir Square, the courage of the people is unbowed, despite the gunshots, rocks, goons and what more the regime will offer. “We know that if we give in now, they will hunt us one by one” – [Monana Saeef].

Bus loads of anti-protesters are reported heading toward Cairo.

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