05 February 2011

Egyptian Protests -- A Backgrounder

Egyptian Protests Grounded in Decades of Struggle; Portend Regional Transformation
Max Ajl, Truthout, 03 February 2011

Egypt is throbbing with resistance. Cairo is cloven between the forces of revolution and those of counterrevolution. Hundreds of thousands of people - on Tuesday, February 1, well over a million - have been streaming each day into Tahrir Square, the largest plaza in the Arab world, located in the heart of downtown Cairo. Army tanks line the streets, helicopters and F16s buzz overhead, and pro-Mubarak demonstrators, many of them hired thugs, bloodied thousands of protesters yesterday in Tahrir and elsewhere. Yet the people keep pushing for Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak's unconditional ouster, and not just in Cairo. Alexandria has been convulsed, while Suez, a small city abutting the Suez Canal, has been riven with some of the fiercest street battles between the police and protesters, while workers there have gone on strike, demanding that Mubarak step down from his palace in Heliopolis.
In response to rising rage, Mubarak addressed the Egyptian people on Tuesday, February 1, and promised to step down in September, stating that his "first responsibility now is to restore the security and stability of the homeland, to achieve a peaceful transition of power," assuring the crowds that he "was not intent on standing for the next elections" anyway.
Barack Obama, in reply to Mubarak's promise to slowly relinquish his grip on power, said that after his address he had spoken "directly to President Mubarak. He recognizes that the status quo is not sustainable and that a change must take place ... an orderly transition must be meaningful, must be peaceful and it must begin now." Clearly, Mubarak and Obama are coordinating their communications, as well as their strategies. They should be: Egypt receives $1.3 billion of military aid each year to make sure it follows American orders. [continued]