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GAME MORE OR LESS OVER? February 4, 2011

Posted by wmmbb in Middle East, North Africa.
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This is a dark moment for the Egyptian democratic revolution has descended into violence and counter-violence in response to the methods of the regime. Is the game over? Has the cup of freedom been seized from the lips of the people?

As always, governments with their international support have more of the paraphernalia of violence. While hard to say, and as understandable as the response of the protesters has been in the face of the brutal and cynical methods of the regime is, they may be fighting on the wrong ground. Violence gives rises to greater violence and in the process human quality is lost.

It would help the people of Egypt is the supporters of the dictatorship would withdraw their financial and material support for the dictator, rather than utter unctuous words. We cannot expect any other behavior from the public officials of various governments around the world. The Turkish Government is one of the honorable exceptions.

Still it seems, Mubarak and those around him, are not for throwing in the towel. They are earning the support of their backers. Paul Woodward at War In Context writes:

Robert Springborg, a professor of national security affairs at the US Naval Postgraduate School, argues that events of the last 24 hours “show us just how clever and experienced [Mubarak] truly is.” Springborg concludes: “The game is, thus, more or less over.” He lays out a compelling argument that the military high command is successfully executing a transfer of power that will ensure Egypt remains under military control. He predicts: “The military will now enter into negotiations with opposition elements that it chooses. The real opposition will initially be ignored, and then possibly rounded up. The regime will do all possible to restore a sense of business as usual.”

For those whose cynicism has led to a belief in the unassailable power of the state, it will be easy at this juncture to see Egypt’s revolution withering. This is indeed a moment that separates those who believe in their own power to shape the future and those who live lives of resignation.

In an interview on Al Jazeera last night, one protester was asked why she and others gathered in Tahrir Square would not go home now they know Mubarak will stand down. “Why,” she responded, “should we believe a government that is trying to kill us. If we leave we now we will then be hunted down, one by one.”

Hosni Mabarak is saying that if he steps aside there will be chaos.

UPDATE:

President Obama has delivered an ultimatum that Mubarak must be removed or US aid will be cut off. Of course, this merely makes it possible for the regime to change the seating arrangements at the table. It may in fact not be the case Mubarak is calling the shots.

Paul Woodward unearthed another wonderfully analytical article by Michael Wahid Hanna in Foreign Policy:

As evidence mounts that the violence in Tahrir Square is a regime-orchestrated attempt to crush dissent and peaceful protest, the manifest flaws in President Mubarak’s plan to remain in office are becoming clear. The Egyptian president, under pressure, committed not to run for a sixth presidential term, but refused to begin a serious process of transition. In essence, he was asking the millions of protesters who had taken to Egypt’s streets in response to 30 years of authoritarian rule to simply trust him. Based on the violent evidence on display in Cairo today and the actions of the regime since the uprising began on January 25th, the protesters have no reason to do so.

As this repressive rearguard action unfolds, the regime is indicating that it is working to preserve the very system that protesters have given their life to bring down. A regime that ruled by fiat and the baton is now using these same tools to defend its power and privileges. Those who have now offered themselves as the vehicles for systemic changes are the very actors that have thwarted political reform for 30 years. Mubarak’s tactical ploy lays bare that he has clearly not understood the calls of the Egyptian people. Now, the very stability prized previously by the United States in its relations with Egypt is no longer possible with Mubarak at the helm. America’s long-term ally is now the primary driver of instability.

The worst thing about the resort to violence is that unfortunately that it undermined the power and the humanity of the protester’s nonviolence that was previously in evidence and hopefully can be rediscovered. Fundamental human decency never applies to the grotesque distortions of cruel domination politics or the brutal regimes set in place such as that fronted for the moment by the Hosni Mubarak.

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