Monday, February 07, 2011

Egypt Protests Continue Amid Mubarak Moves To Stay In Power

Egyptian protesters continue calling for Hosni Mubarak to step down, and the protesters have some new ammunition in their calls- the fact that so many of those officials connected with the Mubarak regime banking billions that should have gone to the people.
As part of a new openness meant to appease the anti-government protesters, the newspaper Al-Masry al-Youm printed startling estimates of the wealth of former top officials who are suddenly being investigated for corruption:

*Ahmed Ezz, a steel magnate who was Organisation Secretary of the ruling party: $3 billion. Prosecutors said Ezz had $300,000 in 1989.

*Former Housing Minister Ahmed al-Maghraby: $1.8 billion

*Former Tourism Minister Zuhair Garrana: $2.2 billion

*Former Minister of Trade and Industry Rashid Mohamed Rashid: $2 billion

*Former Interior Minister Habib al-Adly: $1.3 billion

Their assets have been frozen and state prosecutors are readying corruption charges.

The newspaper reported three of the former ministers tried to leave the country in recent days but were denied permission to travel at Cairo Airport.

The average Egyptian takes home $60 a week, according to Egypt's Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics.

The salary hikes and corruption investigations follow Sunday's promises from the embattled government to open up elections, lift martial law and free political prisoners.

None of those steps - even though unthinkable just two weeks ago - have been enough to convince the protesters to stand down.
Even though there are some in Egypt who are tiring of the protests, the grievances are real and there appears to be a sufficiently motivated group that will keep the pressure on the Mubarak government to force him to step down.

It will matter little to the Egyptian people that Mubarak just increased government pay by 15% when tens of millions of Egyptians are barely getting by with $2 a day, which is far below what the Egyptian government statistics suggests.

The pace of concessions shows that Mubarak is desperate to remain in power, and that is ultimately his goal.

Meanwhile, US officials are beginning to take a much closer look at the Egyptian military and its secret weapons projects, which have been going on for more than three decades.
NBC News has obtained more than a dozen documents from the United States, Russia and Israel that shed some light on several Egyptian weapons of mass destruction programs, including its nuclear potential and details of a joint North Korean-Egyptian missile development agreement.

The reason the U.S. didn’t move, officials say, was Egypt’s role as a staunch U.S. ally and stabilizing force in the Middle East and later as a key player in U.S. counterterrorism efforts.

If Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is forced to step down, new leadership in Cairo could mean a radical change in that relationship, analysts say.

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