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Old 01-26-2011   #1
IntelTrooper
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Default Egypt's "Spring" Revolution (Merged thread)

Via Eric Trager at The Atlantic:

Scenes From Egypt's Would-Be Revolution

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CAIRO, Egypt -- It is too soon to know whether the stunning demonstrations that have rocked Egypt today, with tens of thousands of protesters descending on cities throughout the country and overtaking Cairo's central square in an effort to reproduce Tunisia's recent uprising, will succeed in forcing change. But a telling comment came just after cannons, shooting gas-infused water, dispersed crowds along one major Cairo thoroughfare, when a man turned to me and said, "We want a revolution. We don't want Hosni Mubarak."

That man was a police captain.
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Old 01-26-2011   #2
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I just posted the following comments on facebook while discussing this with an Indian friend...I think they are relevant. The US, with its worldcop ambitions and its Israeli mandate cannot easily sit aside, but, for whatever its worth:

I think that the ruling elite will survive, but may have to sacrifice the crook Mubarak and send him to retirement in Jeddah if things get out of hand. Then they will ban alcohol on Fridays or do some other bull#### like that to keep the mullahs happy and meanwhile they will ask America for more money in order to keep the poor people in check. This method of selling nuisance value has been perfected in Pakistan and if they need advice, I can provide it at 500 dollars an hour via skype…
Fundamentalists are a threat to Egypt because if they hijack the “revolution” it will be crude, violent and unproductive and will eventually lead to either anarchy or an Islamist dictatorship that will barely feed its own population and will someday be replaced by another revolution.
Israel is the obvious direct affectee outside of Egypt. It is a waste of time to worry about fundamentalists in Egypt if you are an Indian. In fact, the fundamentalists may have to buy stuff from india and China as Europe and the USA will close down a lot of connections. And India may benefit from a few thousand talented Egyptian refugees finding their way to India. What is India’s worry from such a “revolution”?
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Old 01-27-2011   #3
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Default Omar,

a brief thanks for again giving us your take on things Islamic and Islamist - and we get you advice and comments without coughing up 10K nickels per hour.

Cheers

Mike
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Old 01-27-2011   #4
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Since you encouraged me, I have another comment on this article:
http://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2011/01/26...ne-is-waiting/

I am not sure why Obama has to deliver the people of Egypt out of slavery. I would not imagine that as a traditional function of American diplomacy.

If things get out of hand, then there is the issue of what organized force is in a position to control the situation. Obviously there is no such thing (even in Somalia) as pure anarchy. Whoever has some organized force tends to take control. In an organized modern state, that function is performed by the state. If Egypt is lucky, then their current corrupt ruling elite will have enough sense and staying power to reform themselves enought to satisfy the people’s aspiration for participation in society, fairness, democracy, etc, while maintaining basic law and order.
But given the long history of corrupt elite rule in these countries and its inevitable decay at the core, it may be that they will either impose basic order by force WITHOUT reforming too much, or they will fall apart completely. IF things fall apart, then it all depends on who or what can organize a takeover of the remains. In 1917 in Russia, that was the Bolsheviks. In Egypt in 2012 that may be the Islamists.
And yes, in that case, things may go from bad to worse. My guess is that the Islamists, at least initially, will be less corrupt than the current regime, and they will permit many marginalized but talented people to rise, but given their retrogressive philosophical framework, they will not be able to make much progress and will lose a lot of the technocratic elite to migration. Unlike Iran, they dont have much oil, they dont have that strong and deep a cultural tradition, they dont have a very educated clergy, they have Israel next door and they are infected with just enough grandiose Arab grandstanding: they will not do well as an Islamic republic…
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Old 01-28-2011   #5
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Default Age groups

I have watched a little newsreel and spent more time looking at the photos on FP Blog:http://www.foreignpolicy.com/article...25/day_of_rage

Where it is remarkable that many of those protesting are not young, indeed juveniles are absent as are women. The vast majority are men in their twenties and one Oriental male - a Chinese student / tourist?
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Old 01-28-2011   #6
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The U.S. has no duty to "deliver" any populace "out of slavery."

But the U.S. has no choice but to deal with the consequences of perceptions that we act to sustain such populaces in "slavery" to begin with.

"Slavery" is a harsh word, designed to evoke emotional responses. This in no time or place for such emotion. This is a time for calm, thoughtful, principled leadership.

I for one am far more comfortable with an America that stands up for popular sovereignty, self-determination, equity, justice and liberty; than I am with an America that ignores inconvenient truths or that rationalizes the priority of upholding "the rule of law" when that law is nearly universally recognized as unjust.

We stand at a crossroad. We have an opportunity to be the country we see ourselves as, or to remain the country that others grow increasingly to see us as. I vote for the former.
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Old 01-28-2011   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
and one oriental male - a chinese "student / tourist" operative?
ftfy.

Nevermind - the kid looks like an oriental 'Where's Waldo?'
http://www.foreignpolicy.com/article...rage?page=0,31
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Old 01-28-2011   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
We stand at a crossroad. We have an opportunity to be the country we see ourselves as, or to remain the country that others grow increasingly to see us as. I vote for the former.
Sir,

How do you propose the US go about that in this situation? It seems to me that any overtures on the part of the US towards a new government would be too little, too late.
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Old 01-28-2011   #9
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Anyone else think that Joe Biden's comment that Mubarak is not a dictator might come back to bite us in the ass?
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Old 01-28-2011   #10
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Originally Posted by tequila View Post
Anyone else think that Joe Biden's comment that Mubarak is not a dictator might come back to bite us in the ass?
Frankly all seems uncertain now. That little piece of the Ben Wedeman tweet captured my eye:

Quote:
Teenager showed me teargas canister "Made in USA."Saw the same thing in Tunisia. Time to reconsider U.S. exports?
...
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Old 01-28-2011   #11
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What's to reconsider? We exported those intentionally.
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Old 01-28-2011   #12
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Watching Fox news. Huckabaee is all "this is bad for Israel"; Then the CEO of Heinz "this is bad for business." Prior to them a former CIA expert on AQ "This will empower the Islamists."

The answer one gets depends on the equities of who one asks.

Myself, I am simply a student of Insurgency, history and the law and a retired SF officer and former prosecutor. Take any answer I provide in that context. We all have our biases.

For me personally, this is long overdue and generally good. We should probably start a SWC pool for which state erupts next. It could be Yemen, Algeria, or Libya. Or even Jordan or Saudi Arabia. The people are drawing courage from each other (this is the reality of globalization, and this is what did indeed led to the fall of the Berlin Wall two decades ago).

My assessment is that the President is being a bit too cautious, but he is sending his agents out to test the waters in the right general direction.

The Fear Mongers are starting to line up though, and we could blink. I hope we go with our national principles and support the people. If we don't support them AQ and the Islamist community will.
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Old 01-28-2011   #13
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That was all predictable, few people are still concerned with the full picture. You don't get paid for that. You get paid for looking at a specific direction only.

Quote:
I hope we go with our national principles and support the people.
Looks like the government isn't on a common line yet. Clinton sounds kinda pro-civility and at least doesn't back Mubarak openly. Biden meanwhile refused to call Mubarak an autocrat/dictator. Obama mentioned only Tunisia and was silent about Egypt and Algeria afaik.

----------

Concerning the thread title: "Scenes from Egypt's Would-Be Revolution"

There might be some really ugly scenes pretty soon if the Egyptian army comes into play with MBTs, for these are mostly U.S. models. It's not going to look well if M1 Abrams are being used against demonstrators.

Looking forward to the future diplomatic cable leak that shows how U.S. diplomats attempt frenzily to convince Mubarak to send only T-62s and T-55s, if any MBTs...

Last edited by Fuchs; 01-28-2011 at 10:09 PM.
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Old 01-28-2011   #14
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Default Watch & wait

Some puzzling BBC-TV footage this evening, oddly starting with a short clip of Army M113 going at speed through city streets - in Cairo. Then a much longer report on events in Cairo, what was clear that the numbers protesting are large and now the slums have joined in:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12307698

A short comment on the security forces:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12312337

The report from Suez indicates a loss of control for sometime, with a central police station looted - for weapons - and set alight.

From a different angle is a commentary by the counter-radical UK-based "think tank', the Quilliam Foundation, entitled ‘Egypt and the eclipse of the Muslim Brotherhood’:http://www.quilliamfoundation.org/im...s/egyptjan.pdf
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Old 01-28-2011   #15
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Why all this concern about U.S.-made stuff -- tear gas canisters, tanks, APCs -- being shown on TV? The public relations aspect is fairly trivial in the grand scheme of things. Some years ago the same thing happened with the WP rounds used by Israel.
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Old 01-28-2011   #16
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Why all this concern about U.S.-made stuff -- tear gas canisters, tanks, APCs -- being shown on TV? The public relations aspect is fairly trivial in the grand scheme of things. Some years ago the same thing happened with the WP rounds used by Israel.
Tom Clancy didn't popularize WP rounds. He idealized the M1 Abrams, and the tank has certainly the highest recognition rate world-wide.

Did you never wonder why the baddies in Hollywood movies almost never use AR-15s? Such a "public relations aspect" could be an eye-opener.

Besides; my forum post here was fairly trivial in the grand scheme of things - why did you respond to it?
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Old 01-28-2011   #17
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President Obama breaks his silence. Best speech I have ever heard him make.

As to the Egyptian Army, coming from one who served proudly with the Egyptian Army during the Gulf War: This is the wild card. Egyptian soldiers are about 180 out from western soldiers. An Egyptian soldier will do exactly what he is told and not think to question his superior. He will continue to execute a task until told to stop. He will not worry about why he is doing it, he is told to do it and that is all that matters. He has no concept of "commander's intent." He does what he is told, no more and no less.

However. Unless they have changed, they are draftees and serve two year enlistments. They have no NCO corps. Often a rifle platoon has more college educated privates than the Company has college educated officers. The officer corp are lifers, but the men are civilians in uniform

Assessment: If push comes to shove the Army will follow orders. If shove comes to something more dramatic, I suspect the soldiers will join the civilians and leave the officers to their own devices.
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Old 01-29-2011   #18
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Watching Fox news. Huckabaee is all "this is bad for Israel"; Then the CEO of Heinz "this is bad for business." Prior to them a former CIA expert on AQ "This will empower the Islamists."
All of them wrong, I'd have to say. No reason to think a new regime in Egypt would have any interest in going to war with Israel; they'll have a whole lot to do on the home front... and in any event it's Israel who should be looking after Israel's interests, not us. I don't at all see how political change is bad for business... in an ossified situation like this removing the dead wood is likely to be good for business in the long run.

The Islamists stand to lose more than anyone, I think. They didn't initiate this, and they aren't driving it. It reminds me in that sense of the Philippines, where a Communist movement that had opposed a dictator for decades failed to anticipate or exploit the events that eventually removed him, and were left behind in the process. I suspect that the Islamists may end up missing Mubarak more than we do, just as the Communists in the Philippines found themselves largely irrelevant without Marcos.

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Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
I hope we go with our national principles and support the people. If we don't support them AQ and the Islamist community will.
That would depend on what "support the people" means. I certainly don't think we should support Mubarak. There may be a point where we can have some impact by withdrawing support, but that impact will be purely psychological: he doesn't rely on our support to that great an extent. We could offer asylum if he stands down, and threaten to withdraw that offer if he holds on, but that's largely a moot point; I doubt he'd be looking at asylum in the US anyway. We're not going to get directly involved (inshallah) and there's a limit to what statements can do.

Overreacting on any side would be an error, IMO. In large part we'll be watching, waiting, and working with whatever emerges. Trying to control or direct what emerges would, I suspect, backfire badly.
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Old 01-29-2011   #19
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Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
President Obama breaks his silence. Best speech I have ever heard him make.

As to the Egyptian Army, coming from one who served proudly with the Egyptian Army during the Gulf War: This is the wild card. Egyptian soldiers are about 180 out from western soldiers. An Egyptian soldier will do exactly what he is told and not think to question his superior. He will continue to execute a task until told to stop. He will not worry about why he is doing it, he is told to do it and that is all that matters. He has no concept of "commander's intent." He does what he is told, no more and no less.

However. Unless they have changed, they are draftees and serve two year enlistments. They have no NCO corps. Often a rifle platoon has more college educated privates than the Company has college educated officers. The officer corp are lifers, but the men are civilians in uniform

Assessment: If push comes to shove the Army will follow orders. If shove comes to something more dramatic, I suspect the soldiers will join the civilians and leave the officers to their own devices.
I think you are dead on. The Army will ultimately decide what happens to the remaining existing government.

The question in my mind is what will replace it - a more democratic institution, a hard-line Islamic government. or a civil war between the two.
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Old 01-29-2011   #20
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Default Bob's World may get his fondest wish...

LINK.

If the article at the link is correct. Shades of Kermit Roosevelt...

As my Mother said, be careful what you wish for -- you may get it. We'll see how this works out for us -- and them...
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