Mubarak’s day of departure? Live upates

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Sarah A. Topol says:

Many ask me about America, puzzling over the Obama administration’s comments about the protests. There’s a lot of frustration, but most say they want the United States to butt out.

“This revolution is an Egyptian revolution against Mubarak and his policies—we don’t want another client regime. We are capable of doing things without America. I don’t need America to teach me about democracy or human rights,” Amira Howeidy, a journalist, told me. A fluent English speaker, Amira got worked up, and then apologized. “I’m not trying to be combative,” she said as I tried to redirect the conversation.

Others just can’t figure it out. “Does Obama really want democracy in Egypt?” one woman wearing a niqab asked me.

The Guardian:

Egyptian blogger @suzeeinthecity has tweeted what she says are the seven demands of the protesters (see the four drawn up by youth groups we detailed at (5.05pm)

1. Resignation of the president
2. End of the Emergency State
3. Dissolution of The People’s Assembly and Shora Council
4. Formation of a national transitional government
5. An elected Parliament that will ammend the Constitution to allow for presidential elections
6. Immediate prosecution for those responsible of the deaths of the revolution’s martyrs
7. Immediate prosecution of the corrupters and those who robbed the country of its wealth.

Jack Shenker has been speaking to people within the youth movement in Egypt, mainly based online, who have told him they have four very specific demands. They do not represent everyone but they do constitute an important part of the opposition:

• the removal of Hosni Mubarak and the “whole apparatus of the Mubarak regime”;
• a committee which will appoint a transitional government, the committee to be made up of 6 named senior judges, six representatives from their youth movement and two members of the military
• a council to draw up a new constitution, which would then be put to the people in a referendum
• elections at national and local level in accordance with the constitution.

One of Egypt’s youngest revolutionaries!

The Guardian reports:

The Cairo office of al-Jazeera was ransacked by pro-government “thugs” today, as the Arabic language news channel also said its news website had come under attack by hackers.

Al-Jazeera said its office had been stormed by a “gang of thugs” who burned equipment, on a day of reports of escalating violence against journalists covering the Egyptian uprising.

Brian Whitaker provides this constitutional reading on the political train of events on the horizon:

Whatever happens to Mubarak, there has to be a presidential election no later than September. The [Muslim] Brotherhood have said they will not contest that. In the absence of any inspirational leaders who can galvanise popular opinon, my feeling is that the presidency will probably be won by a compromise candidate — the one regarded as least objectionable by the largest numbner of people.

There is no requirement for parliamentary elections until 2015, since a new parliament was (fraudently) elected last year for a fixed term of five years. To dissolve the parliament legally before 2015, there would have to be a national referendum.

This means that Egypt may be lumbered for several years with a parliament that is overwhelmingly dominated by Mubarak’s NDP party. One option would be to investigate the fraud in last year’s election and disqualify some of the NDP members, presumably triggering by-elections in their constituencies.

For the Brotherhood to have any prospect of becoming the largest party over the next few years, therefore, either parliament would have to be dissolved by referendum or a very large number of NDP members would have to be disqualified and their vacant seats won by the Brotherhood.

The Economist says:

“[D]espite the ugly scenes mid-week, the developments in Egypt should be welcomed. A downtrodden region is getting a taste of freedom. In the space of a few miraculous weeks, one Middle Eastern autocrat has fallen, and another, who has kept the Arabs’ mightiest country under his thumb for 30 years, is tottering. The 350m-strong Arab world is abuzz with expectation; its ageing autocrats are suddenly looking shaky. These inspiring events recall the universal truth that no people can be held in bondage for ever.

For some in the West, which has tended to put stability above democracy in its dealings with the Middle East, these developments are disturbing. Now that the protests have sucked the life out of Mr Mubarak’s regime, they argue, the vacuum will be filled not by democrats but by chaos and strife or by the Muslim Brothers, the anti-Western, anti-Israeli opposition. They conclude that America should redouble its efforts to secure a lengthy “managed transition” by shoring up either Mr Mubarak or someone like him.

That would be wrong. The popular rejection of Mr Mubarak offers the Middle East’s best chance for reform in decades. If the West cannot back Egypt’s people in their quest to determine their own destiny, then its arguments for democracy and human rights elsewhere in the world stand for nothing. Change brings risks—how could it not after so long?—but fewer than the grim stagnation that is the alternative.

Washington Post: Israel contemplates a prospect it dreads — inserting its forces into the narrow Philadelphia corridor between Egypt and Gaza.

David Corn describes the Congressional mechanics involved in the US cutting off military aid to Egypt — a decision yet to be made.

Justin Elliot on one of Washington’s most vocal Mubarak cheerleaders, Leslie Gelb.

London-based, Master Minz — a female rapper from Casablanca, Morocco — sings BACK DOWN MUBARAK!

Lost world we are the solution
This shit don’t smell like a flower
It’s the rise of people power

Larry Diamond writes:

Hosni Mubarak’s exit from power under the pressure of volcanic popular protests will have wide repercussions throughout the Arab world. It will accelerate the momentum of democratic change in the region, and open the possibility of electoral democracy emerging in the Arab world’s largest and most influential country. If Mubarak can be induced to exit peacefully and soon, and the way can be paved to a free and credible presidential election in September, the authoritarian exceptionalism of the Arab world may begin drawing to an end.

Sarah Carr, whose mother is Egyptian and father British and who didn’t feel safe going out yesterday because her “mother’s genes seem to have been on strike when I was formed,” describes how state-sponsored xenophobia briefly took hold of the streets:

The worst thing about this is how very un-Egyptian it is. Much is made of the legendary Egyptian hospitality, and for good reason. Egyptians take care of their guests. Which is not to say that xenophobia or racism doesn’t exist, and doesn’t exist in its worst forms. But very generally speaking I’ve felt safer and more looked after in Egypt than anywhere else in the world.

The descent into murky hatred coincides with a concerted state media campaign against foreigners and sinister “foreign agents” who are behind the Tahir protests, a continuation of previous campaigns against foreigners which have targeted e.g. Palestinians, religious minorities, gays, Shias…etc. State media is an extension of the regime. Add this to a security vacuum and the withdrawal of the police and a desperate regime and uncertainty and you get this, another highly convenient instance of manufactured discontent.

Brian Whitaker comments on Amr Moussa’s presence in Tahrir Square today:

Moussa’s unexpected appearance in Tahrir Square is interesting, and perhaps significant.

He served Mubarak for many years as Egypt’s foreign minister before becoming head of the Arab League. There were suggestions at the time that Mubarak had kicked him sideways because the president was becoming jealous of Moussa’s popularity (he was generally regarded as adopting a fairly tough position regarding Israel).

About the time of his removal from the foreign minister, a pop song containing the line “I hate Israel and I love Amr Moussa” became a hit in Egypt.

In 2009, Moussa hinted that he might run for the Egyptian presidency in the 2011 election. In February last year, he also had a meeting with Mohamed ElBaradei which aroused a good deal of speculation.

3.15PM — Gregg Carlstrom: “Inside Tahrir Square, protesters have a ‘press officer’ helping journos. Outside, thugs ransacked AJA’s Cairo bureau. #jan25 #egypt”

2.25PM (local) — Sharif Kouddous: “On a balcony now with birds-eye view. Tahrir is an ocean of people. This is simply massive. #Egypt”

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Comments

  1. delia ruhe says:

    This is just not going to happen, as the wishy-washy response by American and European governments suggest. There is just too much at stake for Israel. All this fear-mongering about the Brotherhood is just that–fear-mongering. The only way the Egyptian regime is going to fall is if one of those Egyptian protesters infiltrates the presidential palace and guns down Mubarak and the circle of cronies around him. Even then, I would not want to lay bets on a new era of freedom and democracy in Egypt or anywhere else in the Middle East.

  2. delia ruhe says:

    Further to my post above, just read an article at Ha’aretz that says it all:

    “There’s a lot of hypocrisy and condescension in Israel’s institutionalized support for Mubarak’s tyrannical rule, in its backing of a corrupt leader who established a brutal secret police state to suppress his citizens and keep their mouths shut. Sometimes it seems that what really worries the Israeli governments, even more than the Muslim Brotherhood, is the real Egypt. It has always been more comfortable for Israel to fight the Muslims, as evidenced by the WikiLeaks documents that revealed how pleased the former IDF military intelligence chief Amos Yadlin was about the Hamas takeover in Gaza. The real problem is that, unlike Mubarak, Arab democracy will not accept and will at least issue a voice of protest against Israel’s policies in Gaza and the territories. It will make relations with its neighbor contingent upon the existence of a real democratic regime that is not based on intolerance and the trampling of the other. “One thing is certain,” President Shimon Peres said this week. “Mubarak knew how to keep peace in the Middle East.” That’s precisely the problem, Mr. President: “There is no peace in the Middle East.” ”

    http://www.haaretz.com/weekend/magazine/when-it-comes-to-arabs-israel-knows-only-what-it-wants-to-1.341247

  3. Eleonnora says:

    To Delia

    You’re right – to move towards democracy will be difficult but not impossible. They will achieve it! The problem is that democracy is not at all in the interest of the US and Israel. They’re scared to death that democracy “breaks” out. But look at Tunesia. And look at the unrests / turmoils in Marocco, Algeria, Jordan and Yemen. The signs are on the wall for everybody to read. People have had it with their tyrants and the time has come for them to pay the bill including interests I hope.

    In general:

    I’m always amazed how they try to scare everyone with the Muslim Brotherhood. Ever thought of the fact that the Wahabbist Saudi Arabia is much more stricter and fundamental/extremist than the worst of the Brothers? Yet they are the best (bed)friends of America because they are “theirs” … and dance to their tunes.

    The West always talks about stability and praises it in Egypt. Well, if stability means to terrorize, torture and oppress a whole population then yes – we did have one heck of a “stable stability”! But it’s over now!

  4. To watch the people of Egypt, both young & old alike who are the face of the protesters, this is what scares all the other tyrants, both in the M.E. & the Western World. It’s the old men, who will be left out in the cold, they are the ones who will resist, as long as it’s not them who have to sacrifice their lives. The World had it’s chance when the new year started off the 21st Century, to change & build a new & better world. Unfortunately, that time was squandered by the U.S. with its Wars. There is no turning back. The Genie is out of the bottle, never to return. I suppose the humane thing to do, would be to choose a barren country, build a huge wall around it, deposit all the present despots there so they can reminisce about the old tymes, just like those stogy old English Clubs in London did at the turn of the 20th century.

  5. Eleonnora says:

    To Norman: I love your idea! The first one is already in Jeddah. Uncle Hosni will follow and who is next?

    All the thrones are shaking and the sewage systems in the palaces are “working” overtime :-D.