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Thursday, 3 February 2011

The Egyptian Counter-Revolution Has Begun as Hamas and the PA Support Mubarak

The Half-Finished Revolutions

The Uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt are beginning to look like half-completed revolutions. The tyrants themselves have either been forced to flee or promises not to continue in office but the structure of state power and in particular the armed forces have not so far been dismantled. That is the task of the peoples of Egypt and Tunisia.

Egypt, the centre of American power in the Middle East after Israel itself, is a pivotal power, straddling the Suez Canal and the key Arab country in the region. The coming to power of the assassinated Sadat and then Mubarak, cemented western and Zionist interests in the Middle East. Resting as they do on the oppression of the Arab masses. And Egypt possesses a particularly vicious, corrupt and cruel regime in which torture is used routinely against dissidents.

The achievements of the demonstrators in Cairo, Alexandria, Port Said, Suez and many other places is a magnificent one in having faced off the massed forces of the police, who last week told Mubarak that they couldn’t disperse crowds above 70,000. What the demonstrators have lacked though is an agreed political consensus on how to finish the job. Having successfully made it clear to the Army generals, who are equally complicit in Mubarak’s long reign of terror, that their troops could not be relied on to mow down the demonstrators, they failed to turn the soldiers against their senior officers and clearly had illusions in the role of the army. But the army has long since abandoned all intention of confronting Israel. It is nearly 40 years since they were last in a military confrontation with Israel. Their role since then has been to underpin Mubarak and the generals are also up to their ears in corruption.

The Egyptian working class is the most militant and important socially in the Middle East. If the struggle against Mubarak and his US sponsors is to be taken to a successful conclusion then it is essential that the movement against Mubarak doesn’t allow itself to be diverted into liberal channels by backing Mohammed el-Baradei, the Nobel laureatte who was previous head of the Atomic Energy Authority.

Hamas Shows Its True Colours

Revolution in Egypt is a precursor to revolution in the Middle East and the overthrow of Zionism. I have reported how the quisling Palestinian Authority has done its best to prevent anti-Mubarak demonstrations in Ramallah. What I didn’t expect is that Hamas, which is effectively the Gazan wing of the Egyptian Moslem Brotherhood would do likewise.

We can assume that Iran’s Ahmedinajad and Kahmeini, Hamas’s backers, are none too pleased at the example of the overthrow of other tyrants in the Middle East. Having only narrowly survived rigging the Presidential poll last year they don’t want a repeat performance in Iran. But as I’ve always said, Hamas would welcome the opportunity of a peace deal with Israel and a coming to terms with Egypt and the Arab regimes. What stops them is not its ‘anti-Semitism’ but the fact that Israel has no wish for any independent movement that is not wholly compliant to come to power in Gaza. Gaza is reputed to have large gas fields offshore and Israel certainly doesn’t want them falling into the hands of Palestinians.

But also any Islamic party which seeks power will inevitably use its religion as a legitimation of repression. After all one can hardly go back 14 centuries. That is effected by imposing social norms such as the veil and clamping down on any expressions of freedom or liberation.

Clashes rage in Tahrir Square

At least three people are believed to have died and more than 1,500 others injured in continuing clashes between pro- and anti-government demonstrators in the Egyptian capital Cairo.

Protesters from both sides fought pitched battles on Wednesday in Tahrir [Liberation] Square, the epicentre of ongoing opposition demonstrations against Hosni Mubarak for the past nine days.

An Al Jazeera correspondent, reporting from just outside the square late at night, said dozens of pro-Mubarak supporters had erected barricades on either side of a road, trapping the pro-democracy supporters. They were gathering stones, breaking streetlights and using balaclavas to cover their faces, apparently in preparation for a fresh standoff with the pro-democracy crowd.

Our correspondent said local residents thought the men preparing for the standoff were police officers but the claim could not be independently confirmed.

Just hours earlier, an Al Jazeera online producer reporting from near Tahrir Square said: "Someone - a few people actually - were dropping homemade bombs into the square from the buildings surrounding it."

Gunshots were also regularly ringing out of the square.

The Reuters news agency reported quoting officials that three people were killed in Wednesday's violence. It also quoted a doctor at the scene as saying that more than 1,500 had been injured.

'Absolute mayhem'

Witnesses also said that pro-Mubarak supporters were dragging away protesters they had managed to grab and handing them over to security forces.

Salma Eltarzi, an anti-government protester, told Al Jazeera there were hundreds of wounded people.

"There are no ambulances in sight, and all we are using is Dettol," she said. "We are all so scared."

Aisha Hussein, a nurse, said dozens of people were being treated at a makeshift clinic in a mosque near the square.

She described a scene of "absolute mayhem", as protesters first began to flood into the clinic.

"People are coming in with multiple wounds. All kinds of contusions. We had one guy who needed stitches in two places on his face. Some have broken bones."

Mustafa Hussein, a physician who was treating the injured at a makeshift hospital near Liberation Square, told Al Jazeera that most of the injured protesters "coming in today are suffering from head injuries resulting from rocks being thrown at them".

Meanwhile, another Al Jazeera correspondent said men on horseback and camels had ploughed into the crowds, as army personnel stood by.

At least six riders were dragged from their beasts, beaten with sticks by the protesters and taken away with blood streaming down their faces.

One of them was dragged away unconscious, with large blood stains on the ground at the site of the clash.

The worst of the fighting was just outside the world famous Egyptian Museum, which was targeted by looters last week.

Al Jazeera's correspondent added that a group of pro-government protesters took over army vehicles. They also took control of a nearby building and used the rooftop to throw concrete blocks, stones, and other objects.

Soldiers surrounding the square took cover from flying stones, and the windows of at least one army truck were broken. Some troops stood on tanks and appealed for calm but did not otherwise intervene.

Many of the pro-Mubarak supporters raised slogans like "Thirty Years of Stability, Nine Days of Anarchy".


Al Jazeera's Jane Dutton, also in Cairo, said that security guards have also been seen amongst the pro-Mubarak supporters, and it may be a precursor to the feared riot police arriving on the scene.

Dutton added that a journalist with the Al-Arabiya channel was stabbed during the clashes.

Fighting took place around army tanks deployed around the square, with stones bouncing off the armoured vehicles.

Several groups were involved in fist fights, and some were using clubs. The opposition also said many among the pro-Mubarak crowd were policemen in plain clothes.

"Members of security forces dressed in plain clothes and a number of thugs have stormed Tahrir Square," three opposition groups said in a statement.
Mohamed ElBaradei, a prominent opposition figure, accused Mubarak of resorting to scare tactics. Opposition groups have reportedly also seized police identification cards amongst the pro-Mubarak demonstrators.

"I'm extremely concerned, I mean this is yet another symptom, or another indication, of a criminal regime using criminal acts," ElBaradei said.

"My fear is that it will turn into a bloodbath," he added, calling the pro-Mubarak supporters a "bunch of thugs".

ElBaradei has also urged the army to intervene.

"I ask the army to intervene to protect Egyptian lives," he told Al Jazeera, adding he said it should intervene "today" and not remain neutral.

Determined protesters

Despite the clashes, anti-government protesters seeking Mubarak's immediate resignation said they would not give up until Mubarak steps down.

Khalil, in his 60s and holding a stick, blamed Mubarak supporters and undercover security for the clashes.

"But we will not leave," he told Reuters. "Everybody stay put."

Mohammed el-Belgaty, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, told Al Jazeera the "peaceful demonstrations in Tahrir Square have been turned into chaos".

"The speech delivered by President Mubarak was very provocative as he used very sentimental words.

"Since morning, hundreds of these paid thugs started to demonstrate pretending to be supporting the President. Now they came to charge inside Tahrir Square armed with batons, sticks and some knives.

"Mubarak is asking the people to choose between him or chaos."

Ahead of Wednesday's clashes, supporters of the president staged a number of rallies around Cairo, saying Mubarak represented stability amid growing insecurity, and calling those who want his departure "traitors."

"Yes to Mubarak, to protect stability," read one banner in a crowd of 500 gathered near state television headquarters, about 1km from Tahrir Square.

A witness said organisers were paying people $17, to take part in the pro-Mubarak rally, a claim that could not be confirmed.

Other pro-Mubarak demonstrations occurred in the Mohandeseen district, as well as near Ramses Square.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

Hamas blocks Egypt solidarity demonstrations in Gaza, says rights group

Human Rights Watch reports that Gazan police thwarted local efforts to protest Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Hamas authorities prevented demonstrations in the Gaza Strip aimed at showing solidarity with anti-government protesters in Egypt, Human Rights Watch said late Monday.

Throngs of Egyptians have taken to the streets in the last week demanding the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, in what observers are calling the largest protest movement to sweep the country in the last quarter-century. Egyptian security services have tried to stem the wave of unrest, to no avail.

Police arrested six women and threatened to arrest some 20 other would-be demonstrators who arrived at a park in Gaza City in response to a Facebook-planned demonstration, the group said citing witnesses. Police allegedly ordered the women to sign pledges not participate in unsanctioned demonstrations, witnesses told the human rights group.

"The Hamas authorities should stop arbitrarily interfering with peaceful demonstrations about Egypt or anything else," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Human Rights Watch's Middle East director. The ruling Islamist group has so far been reluctant to comment on the demonstrations in Egypt demanding the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.

On January 20, a group of young people in Ramallah who wanted to demonstrate their support for the Tunisians were thwarted by Palestinian Authority police.

After organizing themselves using Facebook and e-mail, they informed the police 48 hours in advance of their intention to gather in Manara Square - only to learn that public demonstrations in support of the Tunisian people had been forbidden.

Some of the young people arrived at the square anyway, at the scheduled time. When one of them was seen carrying a Tunisian flag, policemen rushed over and dispersed the crowd.

Demonstrators in front of the Egyptian Embassy in north Tel Aviv on Friday expressed support for the anti-government protests taking place in Egypt and demanded that President Hosni Mubarak resign immediately.

A few dozen young people of various faiths carried Egyptian, Palestinian and Tunisian flags aloft, held signs in Arabic and Hebrew and chanted slogans denouncing the Mubarak regime. Israeli police kept a watchful eye from across the street but did not interfere.

See also Angry Arab on The lousy Hamas government’ and Hamas worried upheaval in Arab world will spill into Gaza

1 comment:

Brian Robinson said...

Thanks Tony for pointing that out about the blocking of demo's by Palestinians. In all the reporting I've read and watched, I haven't seen that reported anywhere, including DemocracyNow, whose Sharif Abdel Kouddous has produced some outstanding coverage and analysis.