Mubarak: Half sunk, a shattered visage lies

In 1952, Egypt (in Egyptian Arabic, مصر, Miṣr – don’t even bother attempting to pronounce the dark ‘r’) had a revolution and later a military coup d’état, overthrowing the last Egyptian king, Farouk I (whose sister so happened to be the first wife of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi). Gamal Abdel Nasser assumed full power in 1956 until he died three years after the Six-Day War with Israel, whereby Anwar Sadat took over in 1970. When Sadat was assassinated in 1981 by Khalid Islambouli (who got his very own street in Tehran until being renamed in 2001 to improve still shaky relations with Egypt), he was succeeded by his Vice President and former high ranking Air Force officer, Hosni Mubarak, who has ruled his entire tenure under emergency law. In short, while Egypt may have exported the idea of Nasserism, of the Arab Republic, it seems to have never been able to shake the idea of a Pharaoh. And the irony is is that now the monarchies and emirates of the Arab world seem more flexible and open to change and personal freedoms than the promise of liberation that pan-Arab nationalism had touted.

Since Tunisia, as I wrote in my last article, From the Embers, Jasmine, we have seen copycat self-immolations and demonstrations From Mauritania in the West to Jordan in the East of the Arab world. While no country faces the same set of dynamics or conditions, there are still similarities. But no country in the Arab world is as critical as Egypt, its most populous country. Despite a tenuous relationship with the Arab League since making peace with Israel in 1979, it remains the heart of the region culturally (except for being outproduced in music output by Lebanon) and, perhaps, politically. Add to this being the second largest recipient of US foreign aid (behind Israel and not including Iraq and Afghanistan), and straddling atop a geopolitically vital position, the stakes are high with Egypt. And this may be why unlike Tunisia, this time we’re paying attention.

And pay attention we should when tens of thousands take to the streets, despite severe warnings, across Egypt against a repressive dictator upon whom we rely. The questions remain of who would take over in any power vacuum, with most pointing to the Muslim Brotherhood, though the January 25th protests were organized by the youth, utilizing social media. Former IAEA director and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Mohamed ElBaradei, returning from Vienna, has positioned himself as the only readily recognizable opposition voice, though there are actually a few groups (a who’s who) organizing protests. This is happening, like Tunisia, from the grass roots level on up.

For the US this leaves many questions. We’ve been caught in a feedback loop, I am afraid. We support Mubarak as a critical ally in the region, especially vis-à-vis Israel, whose iron fist rule further exacerbates the Islamist extremism he is a bulwark against, and in doing so perpetuates the paradoxical problem – alienating the vast middle of Egyptian society. Though Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called for reform, what does that mean exactly, especially when the tear gas and bullets being used against protesters are American? Aside from being allowed to assemble and communicate freely, would we really be comfortable with election results that weren’t an outright sham (see Hamas in 2006)?

We have an impossible dilemma. And, while Mubarak falling may seem unlikely at this point (I said the same of Ben Ali weeks before that happened), we need to ask ourselves if we think the people of Egypt will soon forget whose side we’ve been on for all these years. As if we’ve learned nothing from the Shah’s fall (who was also deemed ‘stable’ until the moment he fled).

As I write this the official number of protesters arrested stands at 1,000. If Egypt is anything like Iran and similar regimes, I would double those as a rule of thumb. And it is likely to grow as protesters continue to descend upon the ruling National Democratic Party’s local headquarters, and as Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and other cities have turned into “war zones” (pictures) with protesters not daunted by riot trucks, but pelting and charring them instead, that we shall see just how effective the coming crackdown is in breaking their resolve or not.

HELPFUL LINKS

It is simply an overwhelming prospect for me to here include and assemble all videos and details of these protests which started Tuesday, January 25th. So, view the space below as a clearing house for us to gather and share everything developing in Egypt, Tunisia, and beyond.

Some of my favorite places to find information and analyses are:

EA World

http://www.enduringamerica.com/home/category/ea-middle-east-and-turkey

Foreign Policy

http://mideast.foreignpolicy.com/

Global Voices

http://globalvoicesonline.org/-/world/middle-east-north-africa/egypt/

Al Jazeera

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/

Al Arabiya

http://www.alarabiya.net/en_meast.html

The Guardian

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/egypt

BBC News

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world/middle_east/

NPR

http://www.npr.org/sections/world/

The Daily Beast

http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsmaker/upheaval-in-egypt/

Juan Cole’s Informed Comment

http://www.juancole.com/

Democracy Now!

http://www.democracynow.org/tags/egypt

Jadaliyya

http://www.jadaliyya.com/

The Arabist

http://www.arabist.net

Twitter:

http://twitter.com/shadihamid

http://twitter.com/arabist

http://twitter.com/abuaardvark
http://twitter.com/AymanM

http://twitter.com/SultanAlQassemi

http://twitter.com/Farrah3m

http://twitter.com/jrug

http://twitter.com/beleidy

http://twitter.com/DannyRamadan

http://twitter.com/JonJensen

http://twitter.com/Ssirgany

Or, a more complete who to follow Twitter guide from Foreign Policy. [H/T bito]

http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/02/01/who_to_follow_on_egypt

This might come in handy:

Whatever happens, a psychological barrier has been broken, and in the age of the internet, no more do these regimes have a monopoly on information.

Time may fear the pyramids, but does Mubarak fear time?

A timeline thus far.

Images courtesy Muhammad Ghafari.

  1. I think we should be very careful .
    What is the proof that he really is there?
    We have nothing to verify this like so many other news stories. Are we being spoon fed an illusion?

    It is like the Ken Lay situation all over. We have no proof the man really died.
    Is this the ploy to have Mubarak have tons of plastic surgery, change his look and disappear with all the money he really stole from the Egyptian people?

  2. Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up, and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable -- a most sacred right -- a right, which we hope and believe, is to liberate the world.

    — Abraham Lincoln

    Compare that with the modern Republican Party.

    • It would have been far better if HM had decided to bow out gracefully. Alas…I guess giving up absolute power must be very difficult. Sometimes the eye tricks a person and makes them blind to what others see so clearly.

      Thanks for all the info.

        • Khirad, thanks for grabbing my attention to the video. I saw it but didn’t have time to view it. Great translation. :-)
          I know you are overwhelmed with all your links and stories just thought the Lede’s BlogRoll was a handy reference for later.

          And no more Hat Tips to you, guy, just take my hat while I give you a deep bow for your ME coverage. It has been fantastic from before the Green revolution to now. It would take me a month to read all that you have given us.

  3. 400 arrested in Algeria at rally demanding reforms
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/af_algeria_protest

    ALGERIA%20PROTESTS%203.jpg

    Algeria protesters break cordon
    http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2011/02/201121235130627461.html

    Video:




    “Le système algérien est condamné par l’Histoire”
    http://www.france24.com/fr/20110212-systeme-algerien-condamne-histoire-algerie-said-saadi-egypte-police-manifestation-place-mai

    For more dna-algerie.com. If you speak French, I hate to beat a dead horse, but I just might really need you.

    Yemen:

    The other Tahrir Square
    http://www.al-bab.com/blog/2011/blog1102a.htm#the_other_tahrir_square

    Back in Egypt.

    Rut-Roh:

    Egypt’s Army pledges democratic transition, keeps old NDP cabinet

    “There will be a peaceful transition of power when the environment allows for a freely elected government that governs the land by democracy”

    WTF? Haven’t I heard that somewhere before?

  4. Algeria braces for pro-democracy protest
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110212/ap_on_re_af/af_algeria_protest

    Video from Yemen last night:
    http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=10150135764583653

    On-the-Ground view of the crowd in Tahrir hearing Mubarak was going.


    A day by day progression of 18 days in 3:00


    Bye bye Mubarak! -- Pictures
    http://english.aljazeera.net/photo_galleries/middleeast/201121119460587839.html

    Brief profile of Tantawi, the head of Supreme Council, and basic facts of Egypt’s military force.
    http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2011/02/11/137247.html

    Egypt’s Revolution 2.0: The Facebook Factor
    http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/612/egypts-revolution-2.0_the-facebook-factor

    Be ready to be depressed. The view from within Saudi Arabia during Mubarak’s ousting.
    http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/617/celebrations-shake-saudi-capital

    So, Bahman 22, the Anniversary of the Revolution of 1979 in Iran is to the Islamic Republic what the 4th of July is in the US. It is also used for great propagandistic effect and is a barometer of the regime’s support. If so,

    Press TV, with its international audience, soon left behind the events to focus on Egypt. And while State TV continued to loop images of the ceremonies in Tehran and elsewhere, this morning the anniversary of the 1979 Revolution has been relegated, even by the Islamic Republic News Agency, to a place well behind the departure of Hosni Mubarak. (Indeed — and make of this what you will — IRNA’s report on Ahmadinejad and the 22 Bahman ceremony cannot be loaded.)

    http://www.enduringamerica.com/home/2011/2/12/the-latest-from-iran-12-february-the-regimes-day-came-and-it.html

    Already the regime is focused on jailing journalists and activists in anticipation of planned demonstrations Monday.

    Interview with Mehdi Karroubi.
    http://www.enduringamerica.com/home/2011/2/11/iran-exclusive-an-interview-with-mehdi-karroubi-the-movement.html

    Bahrain doles out money to families
    http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2011/02/201121251854857192.html

    Jordanians demand change — just don’t touch the king
    http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/937790--jordanians-demand-change-but-not-too-much

    Admiral Mike Mullen to visit Israel and Jordan
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/02/12/us-usa-israel-military-idUSTRE71B06420110212

    I was curious what Haaretz had.

    Leon Hader: Barack Obama is not Jimmy Carter
    http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/barack-obama-is-not-jimmy-carter-1.342646

    U.S. Jewish groups congratulate Egyptians on ousting Mubarak
    http://www.haaretz.com/jewish-world/u-s-jewish-groups-congratulate-egyptians-on-ousting-mubarak-1.342853

    The ADL could have simply left it at congratulations, I think.

    We all know the concerns. Wait until tomorrow…

  5. President Obama’s remarks:


    http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/02/11/remarks-president-egypt

    I Write to You My First E-Mail from a Free Egypt
    http://www.enduringamerica.com/home/2011/2/11/a-letter-to-ea-i-write-to-you-my-first-e-mail-from-a-free-eg.html

    That 30 year old crying?

    Rawya Rageh
    41589_153099014734172_7447309_n.jpg

    I didn’t even recognize it was her. She’s a regular Al Jazeera correspondent.

    As is he:

    Ayman Mohyeldin: What Mubarak’s departure means to me


    Even the State Television anchor was genuinely happy when he was finally able to announce the news!

    Egypt’s military leadership (profiles)
    http://english.aljazeera.net//news/middleeast/2011/02/201121185311711502.html

    The New York Times also did profiles of the Armed Forces Supreme Council:
    http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/02/10/world/middleeast/20110210-egypt-supreme-council.html

    I hope it’s not a rerun of the Free Officers Movement legacy… or worse.

    But guess who else has “waived their office”? Amr Moussa, the secretary-general of the Arab League (and an Egyptian).
    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/babylonbeyond/2011/02/egypt-moussa-resigns-from-arab-league-post.html

    Mubarak assets frozen by Swiss government
    http://money.cnn.com/2011/02/11/news/international/swiss_banks_mubarak/index.htm?section=money_topstories

    Elsewhere:

    Thousands of south Yemen protesters demand secession
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110211/wl_nm/us_yemen_protests_1

    Something happened in Algeria too (help)
    http://www.tsa-algerie.com/politique/le-siege-du-rcd-a-alger-assiege-par-la-police_14242.html

    As they ramp up for tomorrow:

    Algeria moves to stave off unrest
    http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2011/02/2011211195226600204.html

    —-

    In case you missed them, here’s my last three daily updates. Seems odd to go back now, but you can see the crescendo.

    http://planetpov.com/2011/01/27/mubarak-half-sunk-a-shattered-visage-lies/comment-page-2/#comment-84972

    http://planetpov.com/2011/01/27/mubarak-half-sunk-a-shattered-visage-lies/comment-page-7/#comment-83628

    http://planetpov.com/2011/01/27/mubarak-half-sunk-a-shattered-visage-lies/comment-page-8/#comment-82293

    Or, relive the moment the crowd found out Mubarak was stepping down:


    —-

    You know. My snap analysis here is that that was Mubarak’s legacy speech yesterday. That this may have been planned. Mubarak had given only vague intimations of changes, and it appeared he was being condescending – “my children” – but now I’m seeing it in a different context.

    Maybe I’m wrong, and he was so delusion as to have provoked the crowd like that, or he was already planning on leaving, but wanted to get out of Cairo first – and the part about him dying on Egyptian soil was more of a plea, with his mind already considering exile.

    Or, maybe at the last moment the Armed Forces Supreme Council pushed him out. But, earlier in Communiqué 2 they said they supported “Mubarak’s Plan”.

    Who knows? That’s just some of what I’ve been thinking in retrospect. We should know a few more details in days (and years) to come.

    I leave you with pictures from today:

    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/02/10/heartbreak_in_tahrir

  6. Khirad -- our understanding of what is happening would have been much less informed without all you’ve done for us. This victory is in no small part yours thanks to the amazing information and analysis you’ve offered us in the US and elsewhere. Thank you for being so present for all of us.

  7. A song for the people of Egypt, from Patty Griffin. I’ve loved this song for the symbolism it has for me, in that I was told that kites filled the skies in Afghanistan when the Taliban were ousted. Would that kites would once more rule! Please give it a listen when you have a chance.