Egypt 2011-2-4

After the previous assaults nearly overwhelmed protestors in Cairo, tens of thousands camped at Tahrir and the night was peaceful. Today hundreds of thousands (perhaps a million) filled the square. Men and women gathered in great numbers in Cairo and Alexandria. This day was billed as the Day of Departure and although the stated purpose of seeing the departure of President Mubarak was denied, the demonstrators seem enthusiastic and well organized. They have strongly secured every approach and the army helped. Only a few hundred pro-Mubarak protesters appeared and were turned back.

The plan seems to be to continue the protests until Mubarak departs. While Mubarak and his supporters have strong levers, as long as the army does not disperse protestors the cities will be mostly shut down indefinitely. Neither side seems to have resources to continue indefinitely in this standoff but it is very uncertain which side will blink first. Some opinions are that the public acknowledgment of protest on national television and national and international discussions point to a widening crack in the status quo. As long as order is maintained the government seems incapable of using force. Police/security have harassed television crews but crews immersed in the protest are protected. Al Jazeera has had its studio/office ransacked. CNN is operating at Tahrir as is Al Jazeera. The national network broadcast streets filled with protestors. This is unprecedented coverage.

With re-supply and shift-work protests can continue for days. Business and the wealthy are torn between losing revenue from tourism and business and risking chaos if Mubarak leaves. That the protests are peaceful without the harassment of the government, I would bet that the chaos, if any, will be fruitful. It is clear that the protestors have broad support. I expect citizens will find it better to support the protest in even greater numbers to push the protest over the top. If tomorrow the protestors march to the palace, anything can happen. The army seems to be the pivot. If they escort the protestors instead of blocking them, the protest will only gain strength as the government will only lose strength. In that case change will happen sooner rather than later. Today, several talks about how change can happen may lead to agreements tomorrow.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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8 Responses to Egypt 2011-2-4

  1. There are some analogues between GNU/Linux v M$ and the situation in Egypt, apart from murder and torture:

    youth accept/demand change more than their parents
    the bazaar can function without a leader
    top-down organizations have a hard time adapting to changing conditions
    rejecting monopoly as the status quo is about freedom

    Also, the Chinese are taking the week off for Chinese New Year celebrations so the world of tech is slow.

  2. Tyler Durden says:

    Normally I find your posts rather slanted/one-sided to Linux, but anyway. This was a thoughtful post.

  3. The protestors are demanding Mubarak quit immediately. Egypt cannot stand six months of what amounts to a general strike. The protestors want what amounts to an interim government independent of Mubarak and a a constitutional convention and/or new elections. It is hard to see how the vigilantes supporting Mubarak can be persuaded to quit. They have arms, vehicles and manpower. I don’t see how they can be restrained without the army going after them. An army makes a very poor police force.

  4. Ray says:

    Well, there’s always the option of peacefully, and slowly (spanning 6 months) giving power to the people.

  5. That’s his current story but he may hang on to “save Egypt”. The guy is old and tired. Chaos will ensue when his regime collapses, he quits or whatever. What will his loyal minions do without him? Think fall of the iron curtain or the end of apartheid. There will be major violence almost certainly.

  6. Ray says:

    I thought Mubarak isn’t seeking re-election.

  7. Amen. Unfortunately, Mubarak’s party, NDP, has an infrastructure of thugs whom they call upon during elections and the like. Today the thugs were roaming Cairo looking for anyone who looked like a foreigner, reporter, etc. They carried knives and clubs. My fear as that with a change of regime, those thugs might be unemployed and set themselves up as an insurgency. Think Sadam’s army after the army was shut down in Iraq. I suspect the thugs are part of the “security” force off-duty. There are a million of these folks…

  8. Ray says:

    I just hope it’s going to be peaceful.

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