- What's unfolding looks different than what protesters
demand. World headlines partly reflect it, mostly outside America, especially
on US television reporting an illusion of change, when, in fact, coup d'etat
rule is in charge, headed by authoritarian generals used to giving, not
- On February 13, Al Jazeera's said, "Egypt army tries
to clear Tahrir," adding:
- Scuffles broke out "as soldiers tried to remove
activists from the epicenter of Egypt's uprising...." Hundreds courageously
remained, saying they won't leave until "more of their demands are
- As a result, "(S)oldiers shoved pro-democracy protesters
aside to force a path for traffic to start flowing through Tahrir Square
for the first time in more than two weeks."
- Tents were removed. Al Jazeera's James Bays reported
"flashpoint" confrontations, saying:
- "I think it reflects a bigger problem, that the
military believes that now Mubarak is out, it's time for stability. But
some of the protesters think not enough has been done yet. They don't want
to clear that square until the army (is) handed over to a civilian government."
- As a result, they threaten more rallies if Egypt's ruling
Supreme Military Council ignores their demands. Protest leader Safwat Hegazi
spoke for others saying:
- "If the army does not fulfill (them), our uprising
and its measures will return stronger."
- They demand:
- -- Mubarak's cabinet and all remnants of his regime ousted,
especially top officials like Omar Suleiman, a hated man they'll never
accept in any capacity;
- -- an immediate end to Egypt's Emergency Law, a harsh
police state measure since 1981;
- -- dissolution of its parliament in place after rigged
late 2010 elections;
- -- a transitional five-member presidential council made
up of four civilians and one military person to prepare for free, fair
and open democratic elections in nine months or sooner;
- -- a new constitution;
- -- media freedom;
- -- abolition of military and emergency courts;
- -- free formation of political parties, and more.
- It's not happening, a cabinet spokesman saying no major
reshuffle will occur, adding:
- "The shape of the government will stay until the
process of transformation is done in a few months, then a new government
will be appointed based on the democratic principles in place."
- A senior army officer announced on state television that
the military will "guarantee the peaceful transition of power in the
framework of a free, democratic system which allows an elected, civilian
power to govern the country to build a democratic, free state."
- Take those comments with a grain of salt as well as most
other official statements, concealing what's likely planned. Nonetheless,
on February 13, Al Jazeera said military officials dissolved parliament,
suspended the Constitution, and announced September elections, giving no
- What it means remains to be seen under militarized coup
d'etat rule. It assures no democracy as long as it lasts and none afterwards
if likely manipulated elections follow, leaving generals in charge behind
- Military rulers also pledged to honor "all regional
and international obligations and treaties." That one's likely true
to avoid confrontations with their Washington paymaster and Israel after
nearly four decades of peace.
- Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros, however, said questions
remain over how civilian rule transition will occur, quoting one activist
- "I'm worried about the future. Nobody knows what's
coming. We need to rebuild our country and economy because we are venturing
into the unknown."
- Indeed, they've got great reason to worry because what's
planned won't tolerate real democracy, only its facade as in America, Israel,
and most other states. For sure expect none in Egypt and other Arab countries
controlled by imperial Washington.
- BBC's top story headlined, "Egypt's army struggles
to clear Tahir Square protesters," saying:
- "There is a tense stand-off in Cairo's Tahrir Square
as protesters who have camped there for 20 days thwart army effort to clear
- Moreover, thousands more joined them after military police
head, Mohamed Ibrahim Moustafa Ali, said, "We do not want any protesters
to sit in the square after today."
- As a result, anger grew as they saw "hundreds of
policemen (enter) the square," chanting: "It's a new Egypt, the
people and the police are one." Crowds chanted back: "Get out,
get out!" Scuffles then broke out, BBC's Paul Danahar saying:
- "There was growing anger in the square as more soldiers
began slowly but forcefully to squeeze the protesters out of the areas
they had been holding for weeks. Then a roar went up from the crowd as
they realized hundreds of policemen had entered the square," the same
ones who attacked, gassed, beat, and arrested them days earlier. "There
was a tense stand-off as the two sides confronted each other before the
police" moved back and left.
- Haaretz featured a Reuter story headlined, "Thousands
flood Cairo square, defying army bid to quell protests," saying:
- Using loadspeakers, protesters said: "They must
respond to our demands," (not) remove us from the square." They
explained that some of their leaders were detained, dozens more taken to
an army holding area near Egypt's museum.
- New head of state Field Marshall Mohamed Hussein Tantawi
called for an immediate return to normality. Mubarak's appointed Prime
Minister Ahmed Shafiq said:
- "The first priority, no question about it, is security.
An equally important priority is to provide the elements needed for the
daily life of citizens."
- Protesters responded saying:
- "There is no enmity between the people and armed
forces....We ask you not to attack our sons. This is not the (behavior)
of the armed forces. This is a peaceful protest. We demand that the armed
forces release all our sons that have been arrested in Tahrir."
- "We stood by the army in their revolution (the 1952
coup toppling King Farouk). They need to stand with us in ours. The goal
was never just to get rid of Mubarak. The system is totally corrupt and
we won't go until we see some real reforms," one protester adding,
"I am going to be buried in Tahrir. I am here for my children. Egypt
is too precious to walk away now."
- Another said, "I was going to leave today, but after
what the military has done, the millions will be back again. The corrupt
system still stands. It has gone back to using the only thing it understands
- force. If we leave, they won't respond to our demands."
- London's Guardian, Telegraph, Independent and other newspapers
featured the same story about protesters refusing to leave.
- On February 12, Robert Fisk's London Independent Article
headlined, "A tyrant's exit. A Nation's joy," saying:
- "All day, the demonstrators had been telling the
soldiers that they were brothers. Well, we shall see." Assuming power,
"a series of contradictory (military) statements (followed), indicat(ing)
that Egypt's field marshals, generals and brigadiers were competing for
power in the ruins of Mubarak's regime."
- Israel wants Suleiman. Head of state Field Marshall Tantawi
wants his chief of staff, General Sami Anan, to handle day-to-day affairs.
- Pro-democracy supporters "are thus now less important
than the vicious infighting within the army." In fact, Egypt's military
high command was part of Mubarak's regime. His vice president, prime minister,
deputy prime minister, defense minister, and interior minister were all
generals. So was Mubarak.
- "Sadly," said Fisk, "Egypt is the army
and the army is Egypt....It therefore wishes to control...." Its rhetoric
stresses normalcy, leaving affairs of state to them to establish reforms.
In fact, they intend "divid(ing) up the ministries of a new government,"
to solidify military control, whatever new faces emerge.
- Fisk recalled celebratory outbreaks after WW I ended.
Everyone "burst out singing." It was "genuine and deserved.
Yet that peace led to further immense suffering." Unless pro-democracy
advocates stay vigilant and keep protesting, expect weeks of sustained
courage again ending in tears, Fisk saying:
- Rhetorically, (t)he army has decided to protect the people.
But who will curb the power of the army," hungry to get power portfolios
now that they're up for grabs.
- AP headlined, "Protesters press for voice in Egyptian
- After 30 years under Mubarak, they're making demands
they want met. Egypt's military now runs the country, its future to "be
shaped by three powers: the military, the protesters, and the sprawling
autocratic infrastructure of Mubarak's regime" still in place, including
"the bureaucracy, the police, state media and parts of the economy."
- Despite promising change, "elderly generals are
no reformers, and their move to push out Mubarak may have been more to
ensure the survival of a ruling system the military has (controlled) since
a 1952 army coup." The powerful, "deeply secretive military has
substantial economic interests, running industries and businesses that
it will likely seek to preserve."
- Response from America's Media
- Overseas headlines in part, at least, reflect reality,
what's largely suppressed at home, reporting pretense of a new nonexistant
dawn. Front page news in The New York Times, early Washington Post editions,
Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune reported nothing about Tahrir Square
clashes. Instead, The Times headlined, "Military Offers Assurances
to Egypt and Neighbors," saying:
- "As a new era dawned in Egypt on Saturday, the army
leadership sought to reassure Egyptians and the world that it would shepherd
a transition to civilian rule and honor" all international commitments
and obligations. Though protesters want democratic change, they "embraced
their new reality with humor, mild arguments and celebrations," quoting
one of their leaders, Amr Hamzawy, saying the military's tone has been
"very, very positive."
- A later Times Kareem Fahim/J David Goodman article headlined,
"Egypt's Military Dissolves Parliament; Calls for Vote," saying:
- "The announcement went a long way toward meeting
the demands of protesters," when, in fact, specifics are absent, most
demands haven't been met, Mubarak regime officials remain, and militarized
coup d'etat control is in charge. Four words only mentioned protests: "(P)ockets
of protests continued," the article stressing "normalcy return(ing)
to the capital...."
- The Los Angeles Times reported, "Tents give way
to traffic in Tahrir Square," reflected "the military's determination
to restore normalcy to the nation's capital."
- The Chicago Tribune headlined, "A reborn Egypt gets
back to business....tingling with freedom, look(ing) ahead," quoting
one protester, Ragab Abdou, saying: "I woke up with the idea that
we can do something. Democracy. Freedom. Do something we haven't done for
30 years." They haven't done it now either, an explanation the Tribune
- A later Washington Post edition headlined, "Egyptian
soldiers clear protesters from Tahrir Square, as pockets of tension bubble
up in Cairo," saying:
- "Some weary demonstrators evacuated voluntarily.
Others stood their ground or scuffled with soldiers," implying they
might be agitators, not committed pro-democracy fighters.
- The Wall Street Journal.com also headlined, "Egypt's
Military Moves to Clear Tahrir Square," saying:
- It wants "to restore order after weeks of mass demonstrations,"
quoting Egypt's new military rulers pledging "a peaceful transition
of power in the framework of a free and democratic system." No timetable
or specifics were given.
- For now, entrenched military rule will "oversee
a political transformation" in its own image far different from democratic
change. Savvy protesters fear it, vowing to continue struggling until their
demands are met. They're far from being free and won't be without sustained
mass grassroots pressure, the only way change ever comes, never from the
top down anywhere.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com
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