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EGYPT IN THE TWILIGHT ZONE February 13, 2011

Posted by wmmbb in Middle East, North Africa.
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Protesters on Al Jazeera appear to be confident that they potentially control the streets at any time they choose, but the army controls the government. For the moment the situation looks like a military coup, rather than the dismantling of the police state.

David Randall in The Independent writes:

The first day of the new Egypt ended last night with assurance for Israel and the US, a ban on former government officials leaving the country, and the beginnings of a return to unrevolutionary life, especially in Cairo. Never can a city have been so pleased to see the resumption of its notorious traffic jams.

But some protesters remained in Tahrir Square for much of yesterday, insisting they had demands still to be met and fears to be assuaged. They later said they would leave, but would reconvene there on one day each week – a sign that this is not a clean-cut revolution. The king may be dead, but there is not yet a new one to hail – only a regency by the army.

The military now running a state that was, until Friday, Mr Mubarak’s fiefdom, did nothing to dent the mood of euphoria. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces asked the current government to continue, a stop-gap measure to keep the state and economy functioning while a transitional administration is set up. The army also undertook “to guarantee the peaceful transition of power in the framework of a free, democratic system which allows an elected, civilian power to govern the country to build a democratic, free state”. The protesters could hardly have put it better. So far, then, so good.

There has to be as least a good chance, given the involvement of the army high command in the economy, the desire for the continuation of American aid, and continuation in the Cabinet of Mubarak ministers, that there will be an attempt to reintroduce the police state. Could the army do that? Probably not without bloodshed and dissension with the ranks of the army. Then the police are compromised by their association with the dictatorship and the methods of torture.

The Egyptians may stumble their way to a solution, but be left with an imperfect form of democracy, much to the acclaim of the foreign supporters of the thirty year dictatorship. The people of Egypt will need to put their stamp on their future government or find that their newly won freedom has proved transitory and fleeting.

Breaking News from the LA Times, 13 February 2011:

Egypt’s military dissolved the country’s parliament and suspended the constitution saying it will rule for six months or until presidential and parliamentary elections are held, according to a statement by the military council read on state TV today.

The move, which comes two days after the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, meets some of the demands of the anti-government protesters who demonstrated against Mubarak and the parliament and demanded constitutional reforms.

While not put in those terms, it sounds very much like the re-imposition of emergency rule. It would be far more preferable to have some form of transitional government arrangement. The Egyptian democratic revolution – and it may fail – has entered a new phase. Critical issues from here on will include freedom of the media and the role of the police because they will be indicators of those who will seek to re-establish the dictatorship.

ABC Online quoting AFP/Reuters provides more details of the arrangements and the differences of response within the population.

At Tom Despatch, Tom describes the kleptocracy, while introducing Jen Marlowe who connects the dots between the prison experience of Sami Al Jundi and the uprising in Egypt. TomDepatch provides an interview by Timothy McBain with Jen Marlowe.

Robert Fisk for The Independent describes the ambiguous situation with Army rule and the continuation of the emergency powers.

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