Friday, February 11, 2011

Mubarak's Defiance

by Phyllis Bennis

"....Up until Mubarak's speech on Thursday, the military in Egypt were widely welcomed as partners of the popular opposition. Statements from the military brass to protesters led to chants of the partnership between the people and the military, echoing across Tahrir Square. But the military brass has also made clear that it won't force or even urge Mubarak to resign – that it would violate their military mandate. What isn't known is where they will stand if Mubarak orders them to put an end to the protests by any means necessary.

Relationship with the Pentagon

What also isn't clear is what the relationship is between the Pentagon and the Egyptian military. While it seems clear the political echelon of the Obama administration is scrambling to figure out what's happening in Egypt, which of the players are up and which are down at any moment, and what the U.S. response should be, the military has a much longer, more consistent relationship with their Egyptian counterparts. Mubarak's newly anointed Vice-President Suleiman is the linchpin of that relationship, and it's likely that his longstanding Pentagon supporters – those who actually arranged to funnel the money, arrange the training of his officers, buy and transport the U.S.-made teargas, the B-16 bombers, the tanks, – may know the military's intention more clearly.

Today will be crucial.....

Now what? Will we see police and/or soldiers once again shooting U.S.-made teargas canisters at the hundreds of thousands of women, children, men, families, filling Tahrir? Expectations had been sky-high. Wael Ghonim, the Google exec whose emotional interview after his release by Mubarak loyalists a few days ago, tweeted "Mission accomplished. Thanks to all the brave young Egyptians." Those hopes have been dashed, their mission isn't accomplished. They'll have to make the hard judgments and develop the complicated strategies for the struggle that lies ahead....

The decision how to continue their revolution rests with the Egyptian people. The decision for where our government stands rests with us."

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