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Friday, March 1, 2013

How are Things Going in Tahrir Square?

We haven't been downtown for several weeks, but did hear from some friends that the Mugamma  had been closed during much of February.  We heard from another person that "authorities" had burned some of the tents earlier this week.  Molotov cocktails were involved.  Let's go this local news report and extract a few quotes:
Calm returned to Tahrir Square Tuesday morning after two hours of skirmishes between protesters and police.

Police were trying to reopen the square to traffic, and security forces managed to remove protester tents and street vendor stands despite staunch resistance.
Well, perhaps both versions are true.  The story then shifts to the government employees at the Mugamma.
Employees also resumed work at the Mugamma administrative building overlooking the square. Several youths attempted to shut the building down once again but were pushed away by employees and other bystanders.

... Protesters have occasionally hindered activities at the Mugamma and subway traffic at Sadat metro station since (Jan 25th)
That effort by employees may reflect the attitude of a lot of Egyptians that "enough is enough."

You may not be aware that the U.S. State Department has weighed in on the coming Egyptian Parliamentary Elections with a fairly bland diplomatic statement:
"Elections give the Egyptians a chance to have their voices heard."

"It is crucial for all Egyptian parties to be involved," said Vasquez..."
While you might think that is a nice upbeat statement from the U.S. Government, sort of a "joining together" sentiment, here is how the Egyptian opposition saw it:
In response to Vasquez's remarks, the National Association for Change issued a statement saying, "Neither America, nor any other country, has the right to provide advice to Egyptians, or interfere in any way in the internal affairs of Egypt."

"The successive governments of the United States have supported Hosni Mubarak's regime unconditionally, which sponsored corruption and tyranny. They continue to disgracefully support the Muslim Brotherhood's repressive regime," said the statement.
They went on to offer this comment on the upcoming visit of the new Secretary of State.
The Association also declared that the planned visit of the U.S. Secretary of State is unwelcomed; inviting all youth and political forces to stage mass protests rejecting the visit and denouncing the U.S intervention.

"Egypt is not a Banana republic, if the U.S. continues its bias towards tyrants at the expense of the right of the Egyptian people to independence, freedom and dignity, it should be wary of the wrath of Egyptians," warned the National Association for Change.
Read the whole article.  It's not long.  If you thought the U.S. was now practicing "smart diplomacy," perhaps this response will surprise you.  On the other hand, the representative of the Egyptian Chamber of Commerce that I heard on television the other night saying, "the opposition hasn't learned to be a proper opposition" may just have a point.

And, by the way, neither Mohamed El Baradei nor Hamdeen Sabahi, leader of the National Salvation Front will be meeting with Secretary Kerry on Sunday.

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