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Observations on Egypt | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Egypt after the demonstrations of rage is different from the Egypt we have known during the era of President Mubarak. We are facing a new page in Egypt’s modern history; the dye has been cast.

There are observations on what is taking place in Egypt.

These observations include the demand by protesters that

President Hosni Mubarak as an individual should step down immediately and not necessarily the entire “regime.”

The immediate departure of Mubarak, as the protesters want, or his smooth departure, as he promised in his last address, is nothing more than a settlement undertaken by the actual protectors of the Egyptian regime, namely the Egyptian army senior generals. These generals, through the armed forces institution, are the backbone of the state, and their image in the eyes of the people still that of the fair arbiter and warm bosom on which the Egyptians seek shelter.

No actual institution on earth has as much means of strength and keys to authority as the army. What happened since the movement by the July officers [23 July 1952 revolution in Egypt] against the monarchy is that the rule of Egypt has been transferred from one officer to another.

Therefore, would the Egyptian army institution accept that its regime and role is totally uprooted due to the anger of the protesters in Al-Tahrir Square? We do not know.

Mubarak, as an individual and a stage in the rule of Egypt, is one thing, and the hidden rule of the military institution is something else. Do the protesters want to uproot this entire heritage, or is their problem restricted only to the Mubarak stage, especially in its last phase?

Another issue; how long will the demands of the protesters in Egypt keep escalating? at what point will the demonstrations stop so that the political action can commence, and all these demonstrations and crowds, which it is said by all that they have no leader, can be translated into specific demands and clear political reform program rather than slogans that are no more than criticism of Hosni Mubarak and his evil deeds?

The popular protests so far have achieved large gains on the ground. The president personally has promised that the remaining months of presidential terms will be his last, promised to reform the constitution, hold re-elections in many parliamentary constituencies, in addition to delegating the vice president to conduct an open dialog with the opposition. All this has been achieved in days. These are huge gains, but it seems that the angry people have not paid attention to them as they are boiling with anger, especially after the situation on the ground took a grave turn toward violence in Al-Tahrir Square.

The situation depends on the stance of the Egyptian Army toward the president and supreme commander of the armed forces, and on the course of the situation with regard to the demonstrations.

Finally, some of the international and regional stances toward the Egyptian crisis arouse amazement. The US Administration has not restricted itself to sympathizing with the demands of the protest movement, which is a natural and understandable behavior of the country that is the mother and sponsor of freedom in the world, but it has targeted Mubarak in a specific and methodical way, as if he is Saddam Hussein! We see various statements scolding him and making demands indicating that he ought to depart immediately. This is despite the fact that some Egyptian opposition forces have expressed their preparedness to commence dialog.

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan scolds the Egyptian president and demands that he does more. The Algerian foreign minister says that he sympathizes with the Arab street, and that it is inadmissible to deal with any government other than one that stems from the will of the people according to the criteria of the British Westminster Parliament!

Even Iran has entered on the line strongly as it is optimistic about the fall of Mubarak’s authority, and preaches the good tiding of the birth of a new Islamic Middle East!

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad addresses his advice to the Arab rulers about “opening up” to the peoples in order to establish legitimacy!

All these are play acting stances, and are not sincere.

Yes, Mubarak’s stage “practically” has ended, even if he completes the remaining months of his presidency. However, what is more important is the preservation of the Egyptian state and regime structures, and being alert to those who want to exploit these critical historic moments in the history of the “mother of the world”[colloquial nick name of Egypt].