Protestors in Egypt Remain Angry and Determined as Mubarak Fails to Quit

10.2.11

Contrary to all expectations, Hosni Mubarak, the 82-year old Egyptian dictator, failed to stand down on Thursday evening, when he finally addressed the Egyptian people on State TV. In a speech that began with fulsome praise for the youthful protestors and a claim that he understood their concerns, Mubarak insisted that he would stay in power until September, when, he said, he would honor his earlier promise to stand down. He also spoke about handing some power to the recently appointed Vice President Omar Suleiman (the former head of intelligence, and the favorite torturer of both the United States and Mubarak himself), and spent some time discussing constitutional amendments designed to bring to an end the dictatorial Emergency Law, which has been in place throughout his long dictatorship — and, almost without a break, since 1967 — whose ferocious restrictions on any kind of dissent have led to the imprisonment without charge or trial of thousands of perceived dissidents, both political and religious.

Appearing on State TV after Mubarak, Omar Suleiman urged the protesters to return home. “Youth of Egypt: go back home, back to work, the nation needs you to develop, to create. Don’t listen to radio and TV, whose aim is to tarnish Egypt,” he said, oblivious to the fact that the protestors in Cairo’s Tahrir Square are in no mood to go home. Waving their shoes in the air, the protestors — who had been quiet during the start of Mubarak’s speech — suddenly responded in anger, raising a thunderous roar of “Down with Mubarak!” and promising “revolution till we die” — and, as a result, drowning out Suleiman entirely.

Speaking on Al-Jazeera English, John Bradley, the author of Inside Egypt: The Land of the Pharaohs on the Brink of a Revolution, expressed dismay about the speeches, and fears of horrendous violence to come. in terms of the numbers of people involved, he said, the Egyptian revolution is one of the three biggest popular revolutions in history, along with the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the Iranian Revolution of 1979, and yet the speeches of Mubarak and Suleiman were “an insult to the dignity of the Egyptian people.” He added, anticipating an extraordinary turnout of protestors all over Egypt tomorrow, “The revolution starts tomorrow,” but warned that much depends on the plans of the military, which, this afternoon, muddied the waters by issuing “Communique No. 1,” in which the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces stated that they had started taking “necessary measures to protect the nation” and to “support the legitimate demands of the people.”

The communique followed a visit to Tahrir Square by Lt. Gen. Sami Enan, the chief of the Armed Forces, who stated, “All your demands will be met tonight,” which triggered the belief that Mubarak would stand down. FT.com also reported the views of Mohamed Ramsy, a major in the army, who “joined the protestors in civilian clothes.” Ramsy said, “I’m here because I must be here, I’m a citizen, and it’s not logical to have the Egyptian regime against the citizens. Omar Suleiman was chosen by a president we don’t like. I will not return to my unit. I will stay here until Mubarak goes. I’m not afraid any more, it’s time to say what we think.”

However, on Al-Jazeera English, John Bradley explained his fears, based on a different scenario. “If the army moves against the people,” he said, “we might see on Friday one of the most violent revolutions in the history of the world.”

Bradley was also highly critical of what he perceived as the role of the US and Israel in maintaining the Mubarak regime, pending whatever transition might follow. He called it “one last desperate attempt to keep their puppet in power, and it’s going to backfire massively,” and also warned that other countries were vulnerable to the revolutionary demands expressed by the people of Egypt — specifically mentioning Yemen, Algeria, Jordan and Bahrain, and warning that unrest could spill over to Saudi Arabia.

For now, however, all eyes remain fixed on Egypt, and on the messy and confused response of the Mubarak regime to the incessant demands of the people for free and fair elections, and for the complete removal of power of Hosni Mubarak, Omar Suleiman and anyone else involved with the 30-year dictatorship whose time has clearly come to an end.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook and Twitter). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in July 2010, details about the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, on tour in the UK throughout 2011, and available on DVD here), my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

14 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    On Facebook, TeresaLynn Zimmerman wrote:

    Please join me in prayer for the Peaceful Protestors in Egypt. That President Obama will make a clear break from Mubarak & stand with the people… avoiding another ‘bloodbath’.

    CNN’s Fareed Zakeria seems to think this was to bait the protesters to violence so he can send the police and military in and destroy the demonstration in Egypt. If true Mubarak is evil & must be stopped

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Sea Clearly wrote:

    ‎”Freedom” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fA51wyl-9IE
    [that’s Richie Havens, folks!]

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Fred Encarnacion wrote:

    Let the protest spread to all of the middle east and to the country that caused them.

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    Ronald Ashmore wrote:

    Let this protest spread across sea, across sky, across minds and hearts. May no one be immune. I say enough.

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Janice Lato wrote:

    This is terrible for the people. It just hurts everyone’s heart around the world to see this happen.

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, everyone.
    Here’s Ahdaf Soueif in the Guardian: “We are on the streets. There is no turning back.”
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/feb/11/egypt-tahrir-square-cairo-mubarak

  7. Frances Madeson says...

    “…on Al-Jazeera English, John Bradley explained his fears, based on a different scenario. “If the army moves against the people,” he said, “we might see on Friday one of the most violent revolutions in the history of the world.”

    True, but that’s a big and unlikely if. From watching interviews with Confessions of an Economic Hitman author John Perkins, we’ve learned that time and again Power’s m.o. unfolds in three stages: 1) disinformation and bribes, 2) bringing in the “jackals” to target key leaders for disappearance or assassination, and, (if 1 and 2 are unsuccessful) 3) military force.

    Ralph Nader expresses my own view that “All this disingenuous image of moderation may be the regime’s way of biding for time so as to more fully prepare to depress or destroy this popular uprising in various ways short of massive violence watched by the whole world in real time. Choosing the latter course could unleash forces in this impoverished and brutalized country of 80 million people that both the army could not contain and the already fragile economy could not endure.”

    The “various ways” are a euphemism for tactics 1 and 2. Power has a well-worn, time-tested, and unfortunately very successful playbook. It would be folly for them to deviate from it now.

    Mr. Nader makes some other really insightful points, especially about the need to bring in the rural poor to join in the protests and replenish the ranks. If that happens, that the urban and rural peoples unite to stand together, then the odds for a more successful outcome for a less repressive regime are greatly improved. Because that really would be revolutionary.

    The whole post is worthwhile.
    http://www.nader.org/index.php?/archives/2244-Time-for-Democracy-in-Egypt.html#extended

  8. Tweets that mention Protestors in Egypt Remain Angry and Determined as Mubarak Fails to Quit | Andy Worthington -- Topsy.com says...

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Andy Worthington, blogs of the world. blogs of the world said: For now, however, all eyes remain fixed on Egypt, and on the messy and confused response o… http://reduce.li/c7yqjw #remain […]

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Frances. Great to hear from you.
    Actually, my own view is that this revolution is too big to fail, so long as the protestors stay put, and workers continue to support the revolution through strikes. If everyone went home now and the media stopped paying attention, I’m sure we’d see something very dark indeed — thousands of people disappeared, for example — but I just don’t see that happening.

  10. Frances Madeson says...

    I love your view!

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Frances!

  12. As Mubarak Resigns, Ex-Guantánamo Prisoner Mamdouh Habib Reminds the World that Omar Suleiman Personally Tortured Him in Egypt [ 74874 ] « band annie's Weblog says...

    […] than 24 hours since he delivered a pompous, reality-defying speech, insisting that he would stay in power until elections in September, Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s […]

  13. Ex-Guantánamo Prisoner Reminds World Suleiman Personally Tortured Him « Eurasia Review says...

    […] than 24 hours since he delivered a pompous, reality-defying speech, insisting that he would stay in power until elections in September, Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s […]

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    Ciudadano Kane Kane wrote:

    Thank you very much Andy!, Shared!

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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