Millions of Egyptian protesters remind military to keep promise

By Reuters
Friday, February 18, 2011 20:46 EDT
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CAIRO (Reuters) – Millions took to the streets to celebrate the new Egypt on Friday, reminding military rulers to keep their promise of a swift transition to civilian rule after people power swept away autocrat Hosni Mubarak in just 18 days.

On an emotional day that will become a landmark in modern Egyptian history and a memorial to the 365 people who died in the uprising, many said they would carefully guard newly-won promises from the military of elections within six months.

“This is a serious message to the military,” said Mohamed el-Said, 28, who traveled to Cairo from Port Said, gesturing to the colorful sea of people from all walks of life around him who rallied to mark the stepping down of Mubarak a week ago.

“After today, it will be more than obvious to them that if they don’t protect the revolution and respond to the people’s demands, the next time people go down to Tahrir won’t be to celebrate victory, but they will bring their blankets with them like before,” he told Reuters in Tahrir (Liberation) Square.

Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi, an influential Qatar-based Egyptian preacher, told worshippers in Tahrir Square that fear had been lifted from Egyptians who had toppled a modern pharaoh through faith and triumphed over sectarianism.

His appearance and the emergence of the Muslim Brotherhood show a new-found acceptance in the new Egypt of once-forbidden Islamist movements, although Egyptians say religious voices are only some of the many now being heard.

The revolution in Egypt, a U.S. ally which signed the first Arab peace treaty with Israel, sent tremors through the region. Protests erupted in Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, Iran and Iraq, taking their cue from Egypt and Tunisia who toppled their leaders.

“I call on the Egyptian army to liberate us from the government that Mubarak formed,” Qaradawi told the faithful at noon prayers in Tahrir Square, after which the crowd exploded with cheers and waved national flags in jubilation.

The cabinet now in place is largely the same as one that Mubarak, 82, appointed shortly before he stepped down from the presidency. A reshuffle is expected in the next few days.

The Mochila story continues below.

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  • Johnny Warbucks

    Today, I heard that the US is keeping the 1.5 Bil payola flowing to Egypt. If they didn’t think they had them in their pocket, they must certainly would have cut the feeding tube. And that is not a good thing. The Egyptians cannot allow these bastards to undermine what they fought to hard to obtain and hijack their revolution.

  • Anonymous

    The Military in Egypt cannot be trusted. Most of the leadership have as much to lose if the current system collapses as Mubarak himself. Luckily the regular soldiers on the ground refused to fire on the protesters but the leadership cannot at all be trusted.

  • Anonymous

    Time is always on the side of the Tyrant.

  • Anonymous

    Since RawStory still isn’t reporting this, I think the best place for it is here:

    Thanks to the reporting of Robert Fisk, we now have information that Senior Egyptian army officers, the very ones that are exercising a military dictatorship now, where quite willing only two weeks ago, to carry out a wholesale slaughter of the thousands of protesters in Liberation Square.

    Reporting in the Independent on Friday, Robert Fisk tells us that Hosni Mubarak had ordered the massacre of the people in Tahrir Square: the critical moment came on the evening of 30 January when, it is now clear, Mubarak ordered the Egyptian Third Army to crush the demonstrators in Tahrir Square with their tanks after flying F-16 fighter bombers at low level over the protesters. Many of the senior tank commanders could be seen tearing off their headsets – over which they had received the fatal orders – to use their mobile phones. They were, it now transpires, calling their own military families for advice. Fathers who had spent their lives serving the Egyptian army told their sons to disobey, that they must never kill their own people.

    Please note also something else that can be deduced from Robert Fisk’s description of these events. Namely that it was the low level officers in the tanks, the ones that got their orders over headsets, that refused to carry out the mass murder in Tahrir Square. Had the top brass refused Mubarak, those orders never would have been heard over headsets.

    That was on Sunday, January 30th. The very next day, the NY Times reported :
    Within hours on Monday, the political landscape of the country shifted as decisively as it had at any moment in Mr. Mubarak’s three decades in power. Was this in response to these events of the day before?

    It was soldiers with cell phones that stopped the slaughter. It was the low level officers and tank commanders that organized a mutiny and refused to carry out the massacre. We now know that when an army spokesman announced on state TV the day after the refused massacre, that “the armed forces will not resort to use of force against our great people.” He was not speaking of the will or morality of the supreme military council, he was speaking of their limitations. He was referring to a power they had attempted to exercise but failed to exercise the night before.

    We can now also conclude that that public announcement was directed as much at avoiding a full scale mutiny from below within the army as it was was about reassuring the protesters. It also explains why they made this announcement in spite of the fact, as noted by many commentators at the time, that it clearly would embolden and enlarge the protests. They were in danger of losing control of their army.

    So far the military has failed to lift the state of emergency, failed to release the majority of the protesters it has arrested. It has also been using increasing force to remove pro-democracy activists from Liberation Square and today it made it very clear that it wanted all foreign reporters out of the way. These are the ways of a military dictatorship.

    While everyone, including former supporters of the Mubarak regime like U.S. President Obama, is celebrating the victory of the Egyptian revolution, the same top brass that is ruling Egypt today were willing to pass down the orders to slaughter thousands of Egyptians for demanding democracy two weeks ago. Obviously the Egyptian Revolution will never be realized and the Egyptian people will never be safe as long as this senior officers corp controls the army. They must be systematically replaced. New leadership from among the officers who refused such orders must be found. No reprisals can be allowed against the rebellious soldiers. The state of emergency must be lifted and all protesters in custody must be freed. All this must be done while the people are still mobilized and strikes are still going on.

    Otherwise the military dictatorship will quietly discipline and replace the mutinous officers and soldiers. They will roll up the networks of activists, clamp down again on free speech and protest and plunge Egypt again into the darkness. http://wlcentral.org/node/1298

    “Don’t let your guard down! The Rebellion is still in danger.”

  • Anonymous

    Well that genie is sure out of the bottle and it ain’t going back in.

    Millions on the streets? Whew, that’s a lot of folks.

  • ghostof911

    You are correct, the US needs to keep Egypt on the payroll as a client state so the bribes keep flowing.

    “U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday announced $150 million in aid for Egypt to help the African nation fight its economic problems after the ouster of its President Hosni Mubarak.

    Notably, Egypt takes nearly $1.5 billion aid from the U.S. annually, mostly as military assistance.”


    Meanwhile in the Republican-led Congress, with the countries of Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Jordan, Yemen, Bahrain and Djibouti in turmoil, the main order of business today was cutting funds for rubbers for poor people.

  • Johnny Warbucks

    I read this piece on the subject in Al Jazeera which I thought was very, very good and right on point. See what you think:

    Stealing Egypt’s revolution

    The people on the streets of Cairo got rid of their old enemy, Hosni Mubarak. Now they should be wary of new friends.


  • ghostof911

    Thanks for the link. Seriously, I do not think the people of Egypt need to be lectured to about the hazards of accepting gifts from the smiling embassadors of the United States. It is condescending for him to think the people of Egypt would be that naive, right after they successfully toppled the puppet dictator of a superpower.

  • Johnny Warbucks

    I didn’t see that as a bad thing. I’d like to see it as a cautious reminder of what perilous juncture they’re in at this moment. If you wanna see something frightening, take a walk by Ha’aretz. The paranoia is at an old time high and that is one situation they can’t ever turn their back on.

  • Anonymous

    excellent article making many valid points. a word to the wise, as they say….

    beware of “friends” (western nations who have propped up the dictatorship that beat you down for over 3 decades) bearing trojan horses and gifts……

  • Anonymous

    i had much the same thought many times these past weeks – that genie, once out of the bottle won’t go back in so easily if at all – The Street has finally woken up and is moving like an unstoppable locomotive, all these events are moving at incredible speed……… i wouldn’t be surprised if within a few months a good half dozen or more other dictators are sipping their cocktails at their villas in Saudi Arabia (or wherever) ….or, perhaps even that final domino, saudi arabia itself will be in irrevocable ‘turmoil’ – i can’t see how the historical economic, political and psychological forces could be any riper. it’s an amazing thing we are witnessing

  • Johnny Warbucks

    The US is a trojan horse. Each time, every time. Any alliance with them is the kiss of death. Except for Israel, of course and that’s because those bastards are actually worse.