Friday, May 4, 2012

Egyptians take Tahrir Square to the junta's doorstep

Violent clashes at Abbassia Square, a stone's throw from the defence ministry, suggest Egypt has a new battleground

Magdi Abdelhadi, Thursday 3 May 2012

"Egypt's military junta (known as Scaf, short for the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces), has learned to live with the vitriol and revolutionary bravado reaching it from Tahrir Square in the distant city centre.

But this time the "trouble makers" were getting too close for comfort. Abbassia Square, the scene of the latest bloody conflagration in Cairo, is just a stone's throw away from its inner sanctum: the ministry of defence, where Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the man who took over from his ousted former chief, Hosni Mubarak, has been at the helm for more than 20 years.

The square – close to another student hotbed of vocal opposition to the military, the campus of Ein Shams university – looked like a battlefield. Strewn everywhere were stones and metal bars pulled out of traffic fences to use as weapons in the battles that raged during the past few days......

The moral of this latest bloody interlude is that the military seems to have failed to learn the lesson from Mubarak. It is still pinning its hopes on turning the "average Egyptian" against the revolution. It may have scored some success, but only just. It's true, some of the Abbassia residents hated the protesters. So did the residents around Tahrir Square over a year ago.

The problem is that Scaf's greatest asset, Mr Average, by his very nature, does not drive history, because he defends the status quo. And he, like the calcified military junta, appears very much out of touch with Egypt's own zeitgeist.

Throughout the past year, Abbassia was the favourite haunt of the pro-army and pro-Mubarak crowds – today it appears set to become another Tahrir Square."

No comments: