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Is Change Ahead for Egypt? [VIDEO]

Is Change Ahead for Egypt? [VIDEO]

The unrest in Egypt continue with reports of at least 25 dead and thousands wounded in the Guardian. People from ‘all walks of life, old and young, the middle classes and the urban poor’ have joined the protests. Opposition activist Mohamed ElBaradei, the former United Nations weapons chief who may stand in Egypt’s presidential elections next year, was placed under house arrest ‘”for his own protection.”‘ Late on Friday—with tanks moving into the streets of Cairo, Alexandria, and Suez—President Hosni Mubarak announced on NileTV that he was ordering his ministers to resign and promised a new administration that will tackle unemployment and promote democracy. But he did not offer to step down himself and, according to the New York Times, has backed the armed response to the protests.

Sky News producer Yael Livie, standing above Tahrir Square in Cairo, was quoted in the Guardian:

“It was a very ambivalent speech. It was almost as if he was taking some sort of responsibility off himself – asking the government to resign – but not saying anything about him doing anything different. It’s very clear he’s staying in power. It seems to be a bit of a deadlock.”

At a press conference on Friday evening, President Obama said that he had spoken to Mubarak immediately after his televised comments and called on the government to respect the rights of the people and not use violence. More from Obama’s statement (from Politico):

As the situation continues to unfold, our first concern is preventing injury and loss of life, so I want to be very clear in calling upon the Egyptian authorities to refrain from any violence against peaceful protesters. The people of Egypt have rights that are universal. That includes the right to peaceful assembly and association. The right to free speech. And the ability to determine their own destiny. These are human rights, and the United States will stand by them everywhere.

…..

“We’ve also been clear that there must be reform. … In the absence of these reforms, grievances have built up over time.” 

Obama also stated that ”violence will not address the grievances. The future of Egypt will be determined by the Egyptian people” and called for free speech, noting that “suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away.”  While he noted that there will be ”difficult days to come, the President stated that the US “will continue to stand by the rights of the Egyptian people.”

Egypt has been an important U.S. ally in the Middle East; it is, in the words of Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations,  the ‘linchpin to peace in the Middle East.’  Gelb points that, in her statement about Egypt, Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton requested that Mubarak not use ‘brute power and force to stop the protesters’ and refrain from ‘[interfering] with the protesters doing their protesting.’ Such a message is, Gelb points out ‘flat contrary to the position of the Mubarak government, which has outlawed such protests’ and is also blocking and social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook:

In other words, the Obama team is urging conciliation and, de facto, concessions to those who may well end up advocating far more than simple political and economic reforms.

The stakes are sky high. Egypt is the linchpin to peace in the Middle East. So long as Egypt refrains from warring against Israel, other Arab states cannot take military action by themselves. So long as Cairo remains pro-Western, it serves as an anchor for other such friendly governments. It occupies a central economic position in the region and a vital transportation hub through the Suez Canal. Most certainly, most Arab governments friendly to Washington need to make reforms. But to do so at a moment of weakness, to be seen as bending to mobs, however peaceful and moderate they look now, could open up the floodgates—in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and elsewhere.

 

The US is ‘looking for reform that will keep the present power structure in place,’ according to the Guardian, and is reviewing its $1.5 billion in aid to Egypt. 

As I was walking through Journal Square in Jersey City, NJ, on Friday afternoon, I saw 40-plus people protesting Mubarak’s 30-year rule. Wiih Port Authority police looking on, protesters set a photograph of Mubarak on fire. Present at the protest was Said Afifi who, according to NJ.com, is originally from Egypt and sought asylum in the United States ten years ago after Egyptian police arrested him for speaking out against Mubarak. He says:

‘”For 30 years he’s supported a small group of businessmen only….I think the United States will support the revolution in Egypt.”‘ 

Ahmed Lotfy of Little Ferry helped organize the protest, which was one of 26 sponsored by the Egyptian Association for Change throughout the US. Due to the Egyptian government’s shut down of Internet and phone service, Egyptians living in the US are worried about family members whom they have not been able to contact, the Bergen Record reports. Said Lofty in NJ.com:

“There has been a lot of attempts to tell this regime to reform … it never goes anywhere.”

Egypt has been a “police state” under Mubarak according to Lofty and has become ‘so corrupt’ that  it can ‘no longer function.’

 

Previous Care2 coverage

Cairo Protests Continue: Fires Burning In The Streets (Video)

Breaking News: AP Journalists Released In Egypt 

 

Read more: , , , , , ,

Photo of the Jersey City protest calling for the end of President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year-old rule is by the author.

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34 comments

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12:23PM PST on Feb 1, 2011

The power is only of the people, so give them power!

9:02PM PST on Jan 31, 2011

Now that the protests are hitting there peak I think things are sure to move quickly. Soon this scenario will play out here on the streets of America. There are forces at work trying to usher in the last days, Revelations, the Apocalypse... call it the Illuminati, the New World Order, or whatever you want... it is coming... hell it is already here! Step by step we will all watch as the reality around us unravels, that is unless we are lucky enough to be awake. Those of us who have our eyes open can avoid the initial blows but it will take a strong Army to fight the wars that are ahead. Be prepared, be safe, and awaken those around you, they will be next to you in the battle.

Prediction: GAS $18.00 a gallon by year's end

Egyptian Unrest - Connecting the Dots
http://dj6ual.viviti.com/entries/news/the-tear-gas-smoke-bombs-used-against-egyptian-protesters-were-also-used-at-g-20

3:28PM PST on Jan 30, 2011

Past Member lovely thoughts, but this is the pot calling the kettle black. Like it or not, the US with its special rendition program, has tortured prisoner. It is tough to condemn torture in an ancient kingdom, when you also practise.
Democracy is 'Government by the People', where is that form instituted. The USA has government by large corporations and Wallstreet. Hardly the people.
And what if Egypt has free elections, and the 'wrong' party gets elected, will the USA give it a terrorist label, as they did Hamas?

2:41PM PST on Jan 30, 2011

Change will only happen when the U.S stops supporting regimes just to keep the books straight and lust for profit over the lives of people living in those countries. I hope this turns out to be a world wide revolution to bring down the oppressors living off corporate greed this includes so called first world.

2:22PM PST on Jan 30, 2011

Thanks for the update Kristina. I heard on the news that Eygpt if no longer using the police and has called in the troops, and people have been looting.
It is too bad that they did not try harder to keep this a peaceful protest with thousands of people calmly protesting. I hope for the people that a change comes quickly...like Mubarak stepping down.

1:32PM PST on Jan 30, 2011

Tom Y, my thoughts exactly.I wonder why the Egyptian people are not calling for this alternative leader to come forward and take the place of the current leadership. As I understand it he has come back to Egypt from elsewhere.

1:24PM PST on Jan 30, 2011

Mohamed ElBaradei could be the closest thing to an ideal replacement for Mubarak... but that's assuming he's willing to bet down militant Islamists in his country. Al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood are following this situation avidly, hoping to insert themselves into direct power through a situation they may have caused -- it's been only a month since that Coptic Church bombing, which put Egypt's Christians into street protests as the government was doing nothing to protect them... Add Tunisia's uprising, and the rockfall's now an avalanche in Egypt and elsewhere, too.

This has probably been a long time coming... The question is what the world ends up with when it's over.

1:23PM PST on Jan 30, 2011

DICTATORSHIP, AUTHORITARIANISM AND AUTOCRACY ARE EVILS, BEING CONTRARY TO GOD'S WILL FOR HUMANKIND.
GOVERNMENTS ARE CREATED TO SERVE THE PEOPLE, NEVER THE OTHER WAY ROUND. THE PEOPLE ARE THE ULTIMATE REPOSITORY OF POWER AND AUTHORITY.

12:37PM PST on Jan 30, 2011

Support the people of Egypt. Screw their dictator. The U.S. is in a precarious situation now, since we fully support their dictator off the record, but must appear to support the people and democracy. Our govt's hypocrisy is truly amazing, no wonder we are despised in so many countries...I wonder how long till Americans have had enough?

11:20AM PST on Jan 30, 2011

I have placed little attention on Egypt since the 6 day war with Israel years ago. Egypt has not been a threat nor is it currently any sort of a real threat to Israel. It could be a minor annoyance. Due to earlier actions taken by different US governments the US has many detractors all throughout the Middle East merely so a few people could get rich from oil. The back room deals with people to overthrow their governments has come back to haunt the US in recent years. No country can preach democracy and then subvert the process by sneaking into a country and arming a small portion of the population with arms to overthrow their government. The actions taken are to undermine any democractic process in order to create a democracy. Does no one else find this to be absolutely nuts?

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