Thursday, February 17, 2011

Only pressure from below can bring Egypt democracy

The decapitation of the regime was just the start. The revolution will have to go further if it's going to deliver what people want


Seumas Milne
The Guardian, Thursday 17 February 2011

"Anyone who imagined that the Egyptian revolution would be settled with the ousting of Hosni Mubarak has already been sorely disabused. The dictator may have been bundled out of the presidential palace and demonstrators temporarily cleared from Tahrir Square. But the social and political upheaval shows every sign of spreading.

It's not just that the protests are now fanning out across north Africa and the Middle East: to Yemen, Algeria, Jordan, Iran, Libya and now Bahrain – home of the US navy's fifth fleet. In Egypt itself, as in Tunisia, where the uprisings began, pressure for more far-reaching change is if anything growing, as setpiece street demonstrations have morphed into a wave of strikes.

Industrial action
played a central role in the final push to drive Mubarak from power last week – just as it did in sparking resistance to the regime a couple of years ago in the textile production centre of Mahalla.....

The American government is already trying to ride the tiger of democratisation – in a country where 82% of the population has an unfavourable view of the US – and can be expected to use every trick in its playbook to limit the scope of change and prevent Egypt and others dropping out of its orbit.

Far from being a threat to reform, as Egypt's military leaders claim, only relentless pressure in the streets and workplaces can offset such meddling and deliver the change Egyptians want. Wherever this process ends, we can be sure it is only just beginning."

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