Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Egyptians Mull the Next Step UPDATE: Mubarak Wont Resign, But Wont Run For Reelection

Ordinary citizens have banded together to provide protection for themselves, their neighbors, and provide local authority. They're trying to protect key infrastructure and provide basic services as the government police and security have all but disappeared.

And Egyptians aren't exactly rushing to back Mohamed ElBaradei either. They see him as an outsider and interloper.

Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians took to the streets today demanding that Mubarak step down.
The army's pledge on Monday not to use force against demonstrators emboldened Egyptians to push for the biggest shake-up of the political system since 1952 when army officers deposed King Farouk.

More than 200,000 Egyptians crowded into Tahrir Square in central Cairo and 20,000 marched in Suez with reports of protests in other cities such as Alexandria.

"Mubarak go away to Saudi or Bahrain" and "We don't want you, we don't want you," chanted men, women and children in a sea of people that began gathering from the early hours.

The scenes in Tahrir (Liberation) Square, which has become a rallying point for protests over poverty, repression and corruption, were in sharp contrast to Friday when police beat, teargassed and sprayed water cannon on protesters.

There had been talk that the protesters, some shouting "Revolution, Revolution, until victory," would march on the presidential palace on Tuesday but by early afternoon the crowds had not moved from the square.

Initially unorganized, the protests against Mubarak are gradually coalescing into a loose reformist movement encompassing many sections of Egyptian society.

Young unemployed mixed with members of the Islamist movement the Muslim Brotherhood, and the urban poor held hands in solidarity with doctors and teachers.

"We are calling for the overthrow of the regime. We have one goal, and that is to remove Hosni, nothing else. Our politicians need to step in and form coalitions and committees to propose a new administration," said Ahmed Abdelmoneim, 25, a computer engineer.
Video of Tahrir Square:

Stephen Walt at Foreign Policy is calling on President Obama to demand that Mubarak step down. I think that's the wrong tact - the President has to continue walking a fine line between being supportive of democratic rights and freedoms for the Egyptian people, and being cognizant that the Mubarak regime has been an ally of the US for more than 30 years and if the US backs the change now, other US allies throughout the region and the rest of the world may take that as a sign to consider other allies down the road.

Frankly, the outcome in Egypt wont be decided by Washington. It will be decided by the Egyptian people and Mubarak himself. Egyptian protesters are planning on marching on the presidential palace itself:

That's sure to hammer home just how tenuous a hold Mubarak has on his power. His power continues slipping through his hands no matter how hard he's tried to retain power. Sacrificing his cabinet and ministers didn't have an effect because the Egyptians are past window dressing and are demanding nothing less than Mubarak step down.

Photos from the ongoing protests in Tahrir Square and elsewhere in Egypt. While the size of the protests have been estimated at anywhere from 250,000 to 2 million, the crowds are gathering despite an ongoing curfew and they are showing no sign of relenting on their demands.

Mubarak is reportedly not going to run for reelection as head of Egypt in elections scheduled for September. The problem is that he's not going to step down now either, and that's the only thing that will satisfy the millions of Egyptians who have taken to the streets to protest his regime.

No comments: