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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Ongoing Protests in Egypt

The Associated Press reported on January 26, 2011:

“Thousands of Egyptians vented their rage against President Hosni Mubarak's autocratic government in a second day of protests Wednesday that defied a ban on public gatherings. Baton-wielding police responded with tear gas and beatings in a crackdown that showed zero tolerance for dissent. Egypt's largest anti-government protests in years echoed the uprising in Tunisia, threatening to destabilize the leadership of the most important U.S. ally in the Arab world. The ability of the protesters to sustain the momentum for two days in the face of such a heavy-handed police response was a rare feat in this country…

“Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called on Egypt to adopt broad reforms and not crack down on the anti-government crowds… Still, there was no indication that Mubarak, who has ruled with an iron fist for nearly 30 years, intends to relinquish power or make democratic or economic concessions, and no sign he would rein in his security forces… Parliamentary elections in November were widely decried as fraudulent, rigged to allow candidates from Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Party to win all but a small fraction of the chamber's 318 seats…

“German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle invoked Tunisia Wednesday, saying the unrest in Egypt ‘underlines the necessity of democratization, of respect for human and civil rights. We are seeing in the last few weeks that a country's stability is not endangered by granting civil rights. It is through the refusal of civil and human rights that societies become unstable,’ he said.”

Deutsche Welle added on January 26:

“Despite the strong show of defiance, Clara O'Donnell at the Center for European Reform, a London-based think-tank, believes the opposition lacks a unifying leader to rally behind and push for real change. ‘There is a big challenge to bring the opposition together in Egypt as there is no one key leader among them,’ she told Deutsche Welle. ‘So these are headless protests in a way and it makes it hard to imagine these protests leading anywhere, especially a Tunisia-style overthrow.’

“Almut Möller, the head of program at the Alfred von Oppenheim Center for European Policy Studies at the German Council on Foreign Relations, agrees that Egypt is unlikely to follow Tunisia's lead to the same conclusion. But she believes Egypt is still entering a time of great uncertainty…'"The European Union has called the protests "a signal" of the Egyptian people's "wish for political change" and urged the Mubarak regime to respect and protect the right of citizens to express their aspirations in peaceful demonstrations… There are concerns about the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt but there are far more dangerous groups there who could exploit a more open society. The EU is wary of that.'"

Der Spiegel Online wrote on January 27:
“Egypt entered another day of unrest on Thursday, as calls for the end of the authoritarian regime of President Hosni Mubarak continue. Protests against the regime have been raging since Tuesday, and have left at least four people dead and seen over 1,000 people arrested…“While the US has urged Cairo to implement reform for years, it has tolerated the human rights and other abuses there, due to the country's strategic importance in the region, particularly its role as an intermediary in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Last year, Egypt received more than $1.5 billion from the US in economic support and military assistance. 

“The left-leaning Die Tageszeitung writes: ‘… Egypt is the most important US ally in the region apart from Israel. Representatives from the government in Washington practically have a seat at the cabinet table in Cairo. What is being discussed behind closed doors will be the decisive factor, not the official announcements from Washington…’

 “The left-leaning Berliner Zeitung writes: ‘Egypt has long been regarded as a powder keg. And while Islamists play no role socially or politically in Tunisia, in Egypt they are the strongest opposition force. They control important economic positions and operate a tight network of charitable institutions, which makes them so popular among the poorer sectors of society. It is hard to imagine an united opposition like that in Tunisia. In addition, Egypt has the strongest army in the Arab region, is a regional power and an important pillar of American Middle East policy… 

“’Just as the strike by dockworkers in Gdansk in 1980 lead to the founding of Solidarity and the beginning of a process that culminated in the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union, so the Tunisian revolution could in a decade be looked back upon as the signal for the emancipation of the Arab world from autocratic rulers. That is the optimistic hypothesis. The alternative: Islamist movements profit from the ossification of the regimes and the paralysis of society.’"

This article was culled  from the weekly's of the Church of Eternal God


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