Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Test of Wills

As autocrats in the wider Middle East make preemptive concessions, the Old Survivor finally responds. The Mubarak regime seemingly inexplicably restored both internet access and Al Jazeera’s broadcasts today. The restoration of both coincided with the appearance of approximately 10,000 pro-Mubarak demonstrators in Tahrir Square—some of whom are apparently plain clothes policemen. As well as a warning from the Egyptian military that protestors should restore normalcy.

The pro-Mubarak demonstrators evidently had to—and were allowed to—pass through Egyptian army barricades. Shortly thereafter, clashes broke out between pro- and anti-Mubarak demonstrators. Then, into the crowd, rode men on horses and camels, beating anti-Mubarak demonstrators. 



The timing of these events is not coincidental. Mubarak is on his way out but is clearly trying to set the terms of his exit--and by turning both news and the internet on, he has assured that Egypt and the world will see that he is still in control, despite the throngs in the street.

The events thus far today indicate that the Egyptian military has reached some sort of agreement with Mubarak as to the timing and order of his exit. These signs do not point to the establishment of genuine democracy. But neither do they signal the defeat of the protest movement. It is likely that, should the opposition not break in the face of the first attack, the Mubarak regime will ratchet up the force and the level of violence over the coming days.

Tuesday’s march was an incredible demonstration of strength but the week-old uprising now faces its first real test.

UPDATE: Perhaps the most important headline you'll see today:

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