'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Friday, February 11, 2011

Egypt Erupts: Update [Mubarak Falls] 

UPDATE 2: Mubarak steps down, hands power to the military supreme council. Great joy in the streets. It will, of course, remain to be seen the extent to which this is a significant democratic development, but for now, it seems, the best thing to do is to proffer congratulations for the perseverance of the Egyptian people and to recommend that they do not forget the power they have in their hands.

UPDATE 1: Al Jazeera is reporting that they can confirm that Mubarak has left Cairo and arrived in Sharm el-Sheikh. If that is true (based on earlier articles that I can't locate now locating his Sharm el-Sheikh compound at a golf resort), than he is here.

INITIAL POST: Massive crowds in Tahrir Sq., perhaps the largest so far. The state television and radio building has been surrounded by thousands and state television admitted on air that they are unable to move staff or guests in or out of the building. Growing crowds at the presidential palace, with the military apparently moving to accommodate the growing crowds by moving checkpoints to wider and wider areas. Al Jazeera reports that an army major has joined protests in Tahrir and has said that 15 other middle-ranking officers have also gone over and that the "armed forces solidarity movement with the people has begun."

Huge crowds also in Alexandria, they have set off on a march to another presidential palace, the last palace occupied King Farouk before he was ousted in the Free Officers' Coup of 1952 that brought Nasser to power.

Indications of large crowds in many other cities throughout Egypt, as one might expect, but not much first-hand reporting. Al Jazeera's live blog says "thousands" in Mahala, Tanta, Ismailia, and Suez.

The key to this, it appears to me, is whether the lower-ranking officers and rank-and-file of the military can either be split from, or convinced to impose their will on, the top ranks that are fully invested in the regime. Unfortunately, this suggests that the role of the military in Egyptian in political life will, whatever the outcome, remain central, but I don't really see any other way that the protesters can achieve their base demands.

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