“The command of Egypt’s military stepped forward Thursday in an attempt to stop a three-week-old uprising, declaring on state television it would take measures “to maintain the homeland and the achievements and the aspirations of the great people of Egypt” and meet the demands of the protesters. The development appeared to herald the end of President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule.” — The New York Times, 10 February, 2011
So states the opening para of the ‘paper of record’s’ take. Titled appropriately ‘Egypt’s Army Signals Transfer of Power’ after a lot of waffle about ‘confusion’ and competing claims about who, or what will be the successor to Mubarak’s three decades of rule, the NYT gets down to the nitty gritty:
“So far, the military has stayed largely on the sidelines, but Thursday’s statement suggested it worried that the country was sliding into chaos. The military called the communiqué “the first statement of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces,” strongly suggestive that it had arranged to take power in Egypt. (my emph.WB)
“A senior official in Mr. Mubarak’s embattled government was quoted as saying the army would “intervene to control the country” if it continued to devolve into chaos.” (ibid)
And it’s the labour movement’s entry into the affray that has sparked the urgency, this is what the NYT means by “devolv[ing] into chaos” for once the organized working class get involved everything is possible! [see video below]
“The apparently hardening official line — and the stubborn resistance of the protesters — coincided with a surge of strikes and worker protests affecting post offices, textile factories and even Al Ahram, the government’s flagship newspaper.” (ibid)
The strikes are spreading as is public opposition. New cities are being occupied. The resistance is reinvigorated. No wonder the leading mouthpieces of the Empire are pumping the ‘rumour’ that Mubarak will announce his resignation on television tonight. The ‘wait and see’ policy has obviously not paid off. If anything it has been counter-productive for not only has it revealed the master-servant relationship that exists between the US and its Egyptian stand-ins, it has given much needed time for the insurrection to gain traction and get properly organized.
Given the demographics of Egyptian society with over 50% under the age of twenty-five, organized youth are central to the struggle for control of the state (see also April 6 Youth Movement) but there are no indications that US has any idea what this means. It’s 40 million people, that’s what is is!
And the Egyptian military is caught between a rock and hard place. If it assumes power under the newly constituted Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, it will have to tread extremely carefully (under US tutelage). Any attempt to clear the public occupations or force workers back to work will be resisted, and it will be done in the full view of thousands of mobile phones.
The key issues are: the abolition of the Emergency Laws; the dissolution of the government; the creation of an ‘caretaker’ government; alterations to the Constitution followed by elections. Judging by the US and Egyptian governments responses to these demands, there is an enormous gulf between them and the Egyptian people. It’s obvious that these are the absolutely minimum demands.
Do the US policy-makers have any inkling of the depth of feeling that exists amongst the vast majority of Egyptian people? It seems not and why should it? It’s had a de facto military dictatorship sitting on the people for thirty years (though the US intelligence agencies are well aware that all was not well in the Land of the Pharos).
Clearly, the decades-long collaboration between the Egyptian armed forces and the USG is central to any understanding of the role the Egyptian army could play in any post-Mubarak situation. Foremost will be keeping Egypt on its side especially Egypt’s traitorous role in supporting Israel.
But any new government if it is to reflect the will of the Egyptian people will demand that this relationship is terminated and this scares the living daylights out of the Empire. Unlike the 1967 War that took place in the context of the Cold War and a Soviet-backed Egypt, there will be no Israeli invasion of Egypt, after all they’ll be killing each other with US-supplied weapons. And in any case, what kind of pretext could the Zionists dream up that would justify an invasion?
In other words liberating Egypt from imperial control would create an entirely new ballgame in the Middle East. Aside from South Africa (at the other other end of the continent), Egypt is the most developed of all the African states with a modern army and a relatively well-developed infrastructure and strategically situated on the gateway between Europe and Asia. Indeed, it owns it!
The US, unable to openly enforce its will on the Egyptian people is in a real bind. On the one hand it’s been going off at the mouth for decades about ‘spreading democracy’ but when faced with putting its money where its mouth is, it has baulked (old habits die hard), hence all the calls for an ‘orderly, ‘measured’ and ‘sensible’ transition to what they hope will be democracy US-style.
But all bets are off. If the masses can hold the centre as well as producing a programme that satisfies the majority, then short of an army coup d’etat (not impossible but an extremely dangerous move that would, in my opinion, spell disaster for the US), things could turn out well.
Unions boost Egypt protests
adder757 | February 09, 2011
Thousands have gathered in Tahrir Square to continue their call for President Hosni Mubarak’s resignation.
Three independent unions have joined them, meaning that in addition to the anti-Mubarak protests hundreds of workers are on strike in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez demanding better pay.
But Mubarak is still in office – refusing to step down.
Alan Fisher reports from Cairo