Monday, January 31st, 2011

Some Ways That the Egyptian Revolution Could Still Die

It definitely now seems certain that the Egypt protest movement will not be petering out! It also sounds like tomorrow will be a huge, huge day. Yet still there are a couple of ways in which the protest movement there can be destroyed or damaged—and "total state crackdown" is an unlikely one. The state most likely does not have those kind of resources, and the movement has reached a state where state-sponsored violence will be met with resistance.

Media starvation. It's unclear from here to exactly what cities can still receive Al Jazeera. It's also unclear if their staffers will be arrested or deported. It's hard to organize without Internet and without media feedback—though they're doing an incredible job. That's addressable though; if the cellphone networks disappear, well, radio will work!

Food starvation. Food has tripled in prices in areas; import and export has halted at the ports. (To look at it another way? People are bringing food to the protest's front lines for free, so, you can also say that food prices dropped 100% in some areas as well! And may I also say that just because people like to say often that "women are making food and bringing it to the protests" does not mean that this is a movement made of men, at all: here's some very good evidence.)

International meddling—and possibly, the U.S. "hands-off" policy and idiocy that is going on from Obama and Hillary Clinton. Although, despite how shocking their tepid speeches have been, there is a valid political point to the U.S. looking non-involved, and it is possibly not all Israel-related: it gives credence to a liberation movement, not least in part because later people can't say that the demonstrations were CIA-sponsored! That's a first. (It may not however help that the richies of the world, busy skiing in Davos, apparently have no interest.) Other meddling that's damaging involves total stupidity, like the blisteringly stupid front page of the Sunday Los Angeles Times that touted the "looting" and "chaos" and "lawlessness." If you're near L.A., won't you do us the favor of throwing some rocks through their despicable windows? Thanks! (A note from my attorney: do not do this. Express your disgust in reasonable and peaceful ways!) In America, just like in Egypt, we're now so often dependent on raw news.

17 Comments / Post A Comment

Dave Bry (#422)

Isn't "idiocy" strong? Seeing that there is a valid political point to the notion that an American co-sign could actually damage a liberation movement. It may not look good. It doesn't. The obvious ass-covering. And having Alberedei call them out in front of the crowd makes me think it's time to reverse. But I give Hilary's and Obama's intelligence credit enough to think that the tepid response so far is a carefully thought-out strategy—and maybe the right one, so far.

Leon (#6,596)

I kind of agree. If we've been seen as supporting a failing regime for so long, isn't it possible that too much overt support for whatever the new thing is just re-raises the specter of American meddling? Maybe being semi-hands off and then "cautiously accepting" of the new government rather than out-right endorsing allows a feeling of more self-determination and legitimacy in the eyes of young Arabs, who are rightfully skeptical of our commitment to their political needs.

brent_cox (#40)

Plus also if we (the White House) cut bait on Mubarak in a too-hasty manner, then all our other dictator/strategic partners start to get very nervous.

DoctorDisaster (#1,970)

Not to mention Israel's government is sure to throw a tantrum when it learns we aren't carpet-bombing the protesters in the streets.

Uh, like in any revolutionary movementt, it matters where the literal locus of power is. The Red Shirts in Thailand would have succeeded if the government hadn't moved in loyalist military divisions.

I don't know the composition of the Egyptian military, but if they have competent "royalist" guards then this is going to be long and bloody, it's just the way revolutions work.

If they're mostly conscripts with a Turkish sense of autonomy, then things are going to progress a lot quicker.

joeks (#5,805)

That's what they said about Iran

The LA Times building king of has that Depression Era "stockade" vibe goin' on, so. Looting King Tut's shit is kind of a big deal for Egypt and the world imo [in my opinion].

barnhouse (#1,326)

It's a pity about the LA Times, but really it is quite a bit like the troubles with the New York Times; rich idiots own it, but a lot of sane and talented people work there. It is bound to be a mess, I mean, can you say Judith Miller. Aren't all the big papers just tools of the corpocracy?

Plus which we HAD massive widespread looting here in Los Angeles and the very word still gives us all a certain frisson.

DoctorDisaster (#1,970)

It helps to say it over and over and over until it's totally meaningless. (At least, that seems to be the mantra at the copy desk.)

Looting. Lootin'. Looting? Looooooooooting. Loo-TING!

deepomega (#1,720)

Time to retire the word looting, thanks!

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

This isn't like, commentary-phrased-as-a-question: I'm genuinely curious! Is there any information out there about what a replacement government would look like/stand for? I keep reading things like "loosely unified opposition," and I've heard about a shadow government that organized after Egpyt's last elections.

The Muslim Brotherhood has apparently given carte blanche to ElBaradei, at least in these first moments, since there's no unifying figure like Mousavi or Thaksin. Baradei himself has proposesed elections in 3 months, so it's not like he's a proxy, just transitional.

DoctorDisaster (#1,970)

ElBaradei has been pretty hardline that the Egyptian political process should be open to all comers. This is a big bone of contention between him and Mubarak, who has literally outlawed parties like the Muslim Brotherhood.

joeclark (#651)

“[T]he movement has reached a state where state-sponsored violence”?

bookofsand (#9,632)

I think we all need to take a deep breath and repeat to ourselves, "This is not about us." It's their government, their revolution, their country.

tell that 2 andrew sullivsn

Mort Young (#9,769)

There are other possible leaders besides ElBaradei. In the 2005 elections, which Mubarak won with 6.3 million votes (88.6%), two of the follow-up candidates were Ayman Nour of the Tomorrow Party with 540,000 votes (7.3%) and Numan Gomaa of the New Wafd Party with 201,800 votes (2.8%). The total vote was 7 million, 23% of eligible voters (anyone over 18). These are figures from Wikipedia, which I have no reason to doubt. What I doubt is that Mubarak, already hated by the Egyptians, got all the votes claimed for him. But that's life, when you're a dictator.

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