[Marxism] Anger grows in Egypt
lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Jul 13 08:24:34 MDT 2011
In Tahrir Square the anger is growing again. Where is the
revolution the crowds fought for?
Mubarak may be gone, but the new order is floundering. In Cairo,
Robert Fisk finds fury returning as people still demand change
By Robert Fisk in Cairo
Tuesday, 12 July 2011
Something has gone badly wrong with the Egyptian revolution. The
ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces – just what the
"Supreme" bit means is anyone's guess – is toadying up to
middle-aged Muslim Brothers and Salafists, the generals chatting
to the pseudo-Islamists while the young, the liberal, poor and
wealthy who brought down Hosni Mubarak are being ignored. The
economy is collapsing. Anarchy creeps through the streets of
Egyptian cities each night. Sectarianism flourishes in the
darkness. The cops are going back to their dirty ways.
It really is that bad. You only have to walk the streets of Cairo
to understand what's gone wrong, to wander again across Tahrir
Square and listen to those insisting on democracy and freedom as
the old men of the Mubarak regime cling on as Prime Minister,
under-ministers, in the very figure of Field Marshal Mohamed
Tantawi, the head of that "supreme" council, childhood friend and
Mubarak loyalist – even though he did force the old man to go.
Tantawi's equally elderly head is now framed in posters around
Tahrir and the old January-February cry is back: "We want the end
of the regime."
On the traffic island, the groupuscules of the revolution now have
their individual tents with tiny carpets and plastic chairs on the
dust, debating Nasserism, secularism, the Christian civil rights
union ("The Mass Bureau Youth Movement"). The Muslim Brotherhood
are, of course, absent, along with the Salafists.
"We've got sick of the Military Council which is using the same
tools as Mubarak," Fahdi Philip, 26, a veterinary student from
Cairo University, tells me as we sit amid the summer heat. "The
judgements on the guilty are slow in coming. The state of
insecurity is still with us."
Too true. Almost 900 civilians were killed by Egypt's state
security police and snipers during the revolution and only one
policeman has been tried – in absentia – for killing
demonstrators. When a mass protest by the families of the martyrs
poured into the streets last month, the cops reverted to form.
In front of television cameras, they threw stones at the
protesters, beat them with sticks and – in one extraordinary
incident – danced towards them waving swords. A so-called
"National Council for Human Rights" has blamed both sides –
demonstrators, they said, threw Molotov cocktails, the police
replied with tear gas – while truckloads of stones were brought to
Tahrir Square on 28 June, to be thrown by young men in identical
More than 1,100 civilians, soldiers and policemen were injured.
Fearful of further violence , Tantawi's "supreme" council
announced the establishment of a new fund with capital of £10.5m
to compensate the families of those killed or wounded during the
But no sooner do I open my morning newspapers in Cairo –
free-spoken, they are at last, unfettered, largely bankrupt – that
I espy a colour photograph of Field Marshal Tantawi appointing a
new "Minister of Information", a former opposition politician but
information minister just the same – only months after the same
Tantawi had announced the total scrapping of the information ministry.
No problem, the authorities said, this was only to help the press
fulfil its "democratic" duties before the ministry would again be
shut down. Just as the young Coptic Christian vet – see how we now
note the religion of Egyptians again? – had said, Tantawi was
using Mubarak's old tools.
Yet what can the Egyptian papers report but the collapse of the
law which the revolution was sworn to uphold? I go to the Qasr
el-Aini hospital, serving just a small sector of the capital close
to the old American University campus, only to find that their
emergency register shows that on an average day – in just this
narrow district – 30 men and women arrive with gunshot and stab
Each Thursday/Friday weekend, the figures go up to an average of
50 victims. Among the young in Tahrir Square, this looks like a
conspiracy; empty the streets of police and give the people a
taste of the chaos they brought
upon themselves – and soon they'll want the state security men
again. The country is safe for tourists, the ministers tell the
travel agencies. Really? Egyptair, the state airline – boldly
advertising the "new Egypt" with movie shots of the Tahrir Square
demonstrations of early February – has just posted a four-month
loss of £104m.
The Marriott hotel on Gezira – the old palace on the Nile with its
marble lions and stuccoed roofs – has 1,040 rooms and only 24
tourists. "The revolution used to be good," a shopkeeper friend
tells me when I put my head in the door of his shirt shop. "Now
the revolution isn't good."
Just over a week ago, protesters planning the start of Friday's
demonstration were attacked by street vendors with knives and
stones. The usual stories were heard: it was all planned by the
powers-that-be. At not one of the recent protests over the
revolution's "martyrs" has there been an Islamist group present.
I meet up with an old Egyptian journalist friend. The staff of the
coffee shop come to greet him, to introduce themselves as his
fans, to tell him not to stop exposing the corruption of Egyptian
life. He is worried. There is talk of a "civil mutiny", he says.
Of people who want to burn the police stations again, take over
the government or take the law into their own hands by killing
specific policemen. There are widespread stories – I heard them
myself in Tahrir Square – that youth groups will try to close the
Suez Canal unless the security authorities who killed the innocent
in January and February are brought to trial. The unkindest voices
now call for the death penalty for Mubarak.
Weirdly, there's also a conviction, according to my journalist
friend, that the "supreme" Egyptian military council cannot get on
with the work of government and start the trials unless Mubarak
dies. "They would like him to die. They want him out of the way to
give them a breathing space before they deal with his sons.
Tantawi is worried that the mobs will come for him. But he knows
that if Mubarak dies, the Egyptians are a kind people and will
largely forgive him because he was a soldier and he was so old,
and there will be a period of calm."
There are reports that Mubarak has at least once since his house
arrest in Sharm el-Sheikh been taken to Saudi Arabia for secret
medical treatment, and there are many revelations now of how he
was dethroned. One, from the highly respected Egyptian writer
Abdul Qader Choheib, says that Mubarak agreed to resign after
being confronted by Tantawi, his vice-president Omar Sulieman –
the former intelligence boss and a friend of Israel – and General
Mubarak apparently pleaded with them not to release his
resignation statement until his sons, Gamal and Alaa, were on
their way to Sharm el-Sheikh – not to save them from imprisonment
(which anyway failed) but because he feared that Gamal would do
something "unreasonable" since he had already objected when
Mubarak appointed Sulieman as vice-president during the last days
of the revolution.
The advantage of the revolution, it seems, was that it had no
leaders, no one to arrest. But its disadvantage, too, was that it
had no leaders, no one to take responsibility for the revolution
once it was over.
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