Tahrir square has caught fire once again–literally. The flames of January 25th which ousted Mubarak and put Egypt’s military council in charge were rekindled on November 19th as the military forcibly broke up a peaceful sit in. The sit in–initially organized by the Muslim Brotherhood–protested the military’s attempt to gain a more priveledged position following the planned November 28th elections, which are now in jeopardy.
Since the start of the January 25th Revolution, Tahrir has been no stranger to regular demonstrations and sporadic violence. But this is different. The military’s use of live ammunition and the violent repression of demonstrators resembles that of Mubarak and the Interior police. I gather from my friends in Egypt that these latest standoffs are the remainder of the January 25th revolution which had stalled. Things in Egypt have not gotten better since Mubarak fell; in fact they’re worse in just about every possible way. Esam Sharaf’s interim government have not been effective and the military has not made forthcoming elections easy. Anyway Sharaf’s goverment–which the military prevented from sacking old regime government officials and proved its uselessness during the days of the Maspero massacre–has resigned. This act, though great in appearance, is not significant. The interim government offered its resignation once before, but it was rejected by the military council (!). We’ll have to see what happens now.
Now that the caretaker of January 25th has gradually turned enemy of November 19th the military crackdown on civilian unrest has already become real. I only hope, after successfully ousting Mubarak, that in the struggle for Egyptians to rid themselves of military rule (the most dangerous arm of any authoritarian regime), Egypt does not become a bloodbath like Syria.
Another million man march may be scheduled tomorrow. The country’s elite and secular groups are angry but somewhat divided about reverting back to demonstrations. The Muslim Brotherhood, which spent the past 10 months grooming itself for the November 28th elections, is trying to avoid the chaos of demonstrations in Tahrir square, and the implications this may have on their political rise (which is another matter altogether). The stakes are now higher than ever in Egypt which has become an inspiration to protest movements around the world.