Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Egyptian revolution posted by Richard SeymourSome salient developments in Egypt today: The Muslim Brothers asked their supporters not to attend the protest in Tahrir Square today. This is causing a serious rift in the organisation, especially given the scale of the protests. Hundreds of thousands have demonstrated today, including about 100,000 in Tahrir Square (remarkable given the scale of army repression designed to keep people away), a further 100,000 in Alexandria. Despite the enormous amount of powerful and toxic tear gas being used, and the dozens killed and thousands wounded, "huge crowds" are reportedly still making their way into Tahrir. Watch the live feed for yourself:
The army is starting to hesitate. Field Marshal Tantawi has accepted the resignation of the cabinet and offered to speed up the transition to civilian rule - though without naming a date and without addressing the substance of popular grievances, it was similar to many of the speeches Mubarak made before his overthrow. The protesters aren't buying it. It's an open question whether others, who are not at the centre of the revolutionary movement, will. And some notable defections have occured. Here an army officer splits from the military leadership and joins the protesters:
It is not helpful to overstate the significance of such defections. But recall that an important condition for the overthrow of Mubarak was the disintegration of his police force and the refusal of the army leadership to support him. At the time, the army accumulated moral capital for not supporting the main attacks on protesters. Since then, their conduct - worse than Mubarak, says Amnesty - has turned that black into red. The military itself is now the clear problem; and presumably what is needed is a breakdown in military command.
Last thing, the US has made it clear that it is backing the military to the finish. It has to. Because if the military regime collapses in Egypt, then the US-led attempts to take control of the situation in the Middle East will be in tatters. The initiative would be in the hands of the revolutionary masses, not just in Egypt - the centre of gravity - but also in Syria and Yemen. Israel's regional power would be further weakened. Even the straightforward, low cost victory in Libya - whose new regime excludes both the Islamists and the Berbers - could begin to unravel.