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Archive for February 5th, 2011

Tending freedom’s flame: The Egyptian resistance

Posted by Charles II on February 5, 2011

Juan Cole brings to our attention the names of people who could become successors to Mubarak. From Jailan Jayan, Middle East Online:

Charismatic Arab League chief Amr Mussa could emerge as a leading figure in his native Egypt, as masses demanding President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster seek a new commander of the Arab world’s most populous country.

Mussa, 75, a former foreign minister, is a dynamic figure with a quick sense of humour and charisma that often eclipsed that of his former boss Mubarak. His popularity stems from his strong stands against Israel and language that appeals to the Arab street.

Mussa excelled as Egypt’s foreign minister for a decade between 1991 and 2001.

and Ned Parker, Jeffrey Fleishman and Laura King, LAT:

[Ayman] Nour, who ran for president against Mubarak in 2005 and was later jailed, said the opposition groups were debating the proposal [to talk things over with Mubarak]. The Muslim Brotherhood, the largest opposition group, had previously been dismissive of an offer of talks from Suleiman, but Friday confirmed the sides were discussing whether negotiations could start.

[Defense Minister Gen. Mohamed Hussein] “Tantawi and [Arab League head] Moussa are trying to reach out to protesters, and act as intermediaries between protesters and the opposition on one side and the regime on the other,” said Diaa Rashwan, an analyst with Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, referring to the public appearances by the top power-brokers in the square with anti-Mubarak forces.

But I have a lot of concerns going forward:

1. Whoever replaces Mubarak is going to have to be strong enough that he is immune to a coup or military takeover [cf Erdogan in Turkey or Chavez in Venezuela]. This fact of life is why it’s so hard to break from authoritarian governments. Since the Egyptian opposition has been excluded from holding office and is not part of the military leadership, strength probably means relative youth + acceptance from Muslims + some generally recognized source of respectability + a good sense of how government works. I don’t yet see that leader.

2. The Egyptian resistance has to have a next step. Otherwise the foreign media and Washington’s willingness to deal go away. We thought it was going to be a march on the presidential palace, but they have elected to instead hold Tahrir Square. It makes sense for them to make their move on weekends, when they are able to be at their strongest, a time when they could leave a contingent to hold Tahrir, but also march out. They cannot allow the army to encapsulate the protest.

3. The resistance has to broaden its appeal. The resistance movement in Honduras involved perhaps one-third of the population as active participants (though a small fraction of that willing to confront the police). The Egyptian resistance seems to involve only one-twentieth of the population.

4. The resistance has to be prepared to confront the secret police as they try to repress people outside of the view of cameras. They cannot allow themselves to be defeated by the techniques of terror and assassination we saw in Honduras. If there is, as has been alleged, the involvement of Israeli assassins, this needs to be exposed.

Posted in Conflict in the Middle East | 4 Comments »

Saturday News Roundup

Posted by Phoenix Woman on February 5, 2011

Mubarak makes a few more cosmetic changes, but protesters know that so long as he’s in charge, they’re dead anyway, so they’re not leaving Tahrir.

Right Wing Mocks Reporters In Egypt: Not ‘A Great Deal Of Sympathy For Those Who’ve Been Attacked’

Ten things conservatives don’t want you to know about Ronald Reagan. #11: He wasn’t and isn’t anywhere near as popular as his GOP/Media Complex supporters claim. Bill Clinton easily bests him.

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