Monday, January 31, 2011


An 8-year-old Saudi girl addresses the powerful Egyptian President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak. Meanwhile, more than 250,000 protesters have violated the curfew and are calling for Mubarek's resignation. The unpopular security forces have withdrawn to protect the palace; they've been replaced by the army, a drafted force that seems to support the revolt. They have refused to fire upon the people, and demonstrators chant, “The people and the army are one hand.”

According to the New York Times, "The Army’s announcement — delivered on state TV with no elaboration by its official spokesman — declared that 'freedom of expression through peaceful means is guaranteed to everybody,' and promised to recognize the 'legitimate demands' of the protesters."

This is a significant show of support, and indicates opposition forces are strengthening. Egypt, the strongest US ally in the region, is hardly a democracy, and Mubarek has run the country uninterrupted for the past thirty years. In case you think propping up America-friendly dictators is a thing of the past, dig a little deeper. Sure, the US would rather not lose an ally but it would seem grossly hypocritical to support the notion of democracy in the Middle East without supporting this peoples' movement for democratic reform. Traditionally, Mubarek has quelled protest with an iron fist, and torture is common in his jails. In the typical geopolitical devil's bargain, the US has ignored his violations of human rights in the name of US interests. This time around, Mubarek's first response to the civil unrest was to shut down the internet and meet protesters with bullets and water canons, but the protesters refused to be intimidated, and now with the army refusing to fire upon them, Mubarek is scrambling. He announced a "new government," and replaced Habib el-Adly, "who is widely despised by protesters for brutality shown by security forces," with a retired police general, Mahmoud Wagdi, but that wasn't enough, and even more people filled Cairo's Tahrir Square ("Liberation Square").

Tomorrow, organizers expect a "march of millions" and a general strike.

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