Saturday 29 January 2011



Just as an aside. I just got a call from an old friend who lives in Cairo. He wanted me to know he was all right but I gleaned a few things from him. as we spoke. The roads are blocked everywhere so he cannot even get to his Mother.  Food is becoming scarce because of stocking up and looting, the latter mostly by police.  Needless to say, the phone service had just gone on a few minutes prior to his call. He says he is sitting tight while all this goes on but some of his friends are involved. One came to him with a few wounds to be tended. 

This was not a time for us to indulge in political conversation, and to be honest, he is one of the least political people I have ever met. Beyond expressing his extreme hatred of the Mubarak regime, he has been too busy trying to eke out a living as a doctor, almost impossible, in hopes of someday perhaps finding a wife, something currently beyond his reach. He is right in the age group that is front of this historical action. Then the phone went dead.  He also mentioned that the police were being more criminal than usual, which is saying a lot, they are so very very corrupt. Anyhow, back to the news from Al Jazeera.

Al Jazeera's senior analyst Marwan Bishara sheds light on what the military is likely to do
January 29, 2011

As Egypt continues to unravel under the pressure of a popular uprising against the Hosni Mubarak government, we look at the role of its military as the guardian of sovereignty and national security.

Where is Egypt heading after days of revolt?

Clearly the way forward is not the way back.  But since President Mubarak has opted for more the same old and bankrupt ways of dealing with national uprising, making promises of change and cosmetic alteration to governance essentially, all now depends on the momentum of the popular uprising and the role of the military.

Mubarak's attempts to delegitimise the popular revolt as isolated incidents exploited by Islamists has fallen on deaf ears at home and abroad. As the revolt continues to expand and gain momentum in major Egyptian cities and protesters demand no less than the removal of his regime, it's now the military's choice to allow for the change to be peaceful or violent.

So far, it has opted for merely policing the streets without confronting the demonstrators, whether this will turn into a Tiananmen scenario of tough crackdown or not, will be decided in the next few hours or days.

But Egypt is not China, and it could hardly afford such national confrontation.

But what else can the military do?

The Egyptian military could follow the Tunisian military by refusing orders to shoot at demonstrators or impose the curfew.

The military can replace Mubarak with a temporary emergency governing council or leave it for civilian opposition groups to form government in consultation with the military.

This depends on the cost and benefits of keeping Mubarak who's long been the  military man at the helm of the regime. Appointing intelligence chief Omar Suleiman as his vice president, and hence ending his son's chances for succession, will make little difference on the long term.

There is direct correlation between continued momentum of the uprising and the need to remove Mubarak, his family and his political leadership from the helm. Also, the military will make its calculation on the basis of delicate balancing act that insures its own influence and privileges while not allowing the country to descend into chaos.

And as the ultimate guaranteur of the national security, the Egyptian military must also take regional and international factors in consideration, notably the United States.

Will the Chief of Staff of the Egyptian military play a new role for the United States?

The Obama administration has probably put the Egyptian military chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Sami Hafez Anan, on notice before he left the US capital on Friday, and explained what it can, could not or would not stand for in terms of the military's response to the revolt.

Washington has been a major backer of the Egyptian military over the last three decades, supplying the country with around $2bn in annual aid mostly for military purposes. When the uprising broke out, Anan was in Washington as part of their annual strategising sessions.

Clearly caught by surprise, the US has been a mere spectator over the last several weeks, as people took to the streets in Tunisia or Egypt. 

The Obama administration continued its predecessor's policy of nurturing contacts and consultation with various Egyptian opposition groups in addition to the military.

It understands all too well that the response of the Egyptian military will have far reaching influence, not only on the situation in Egypt, but also on other countries in the region, no less on its future relationship with Israel.

For the military to be the guardian of the state's sovereignty and stability, it must  be the protector of Egypt's future politics, not its permanent leader.

1 comment:

  1. There is another aspect about Egypt we should not lose sight of and that is what is under the sphinx and the Great Pyramid. We are told they contain the records of man on this planet. They have been hidden away for thousands of years. We are promised that all will be revealed by many and that includes many notables such as Edgar Cayce. This can only happen under a free Egypt. Otherwise many important things will only be loaded on planes in the dark of the night and hidden in the underground vaults of the vatican. I have a feeling that it is now Egypt's destiny to be free. It will certainly be difficult however.


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