Cairo, Egypt, 8.45 am

Cairo, Egypt, 8.45 am

You know what’s difficult for me to wrap my head around?

Many Egyptians knew no other leader than Mubarak. He was there for three decades. 

Iranians have lived in mortal fear of the psychotic holy rollers that took over there since 1979.

Libyans have suffered under the manic, insane rule of Gaddafi for more than forty years.

Try to imagine if we were stuck with George Bush for that long. Eight years seemed interminable, and as much as I disliked the administration you have to admit it wasn’t nearly as violent and soul-crushing as these other places have been.

I think I might choose a power vacuum over that shit as well. Especially if I was young and had never known anything else.

Very soon

The story of that suppression was one that pictures exposed better than words could. At the time I was watching these events from Washington DC and as a child of the 1979 revolution, I felt the excitement, the pain and the suffering  of the young women and men in the streets of Tehran with every fiber of my body. 

Yesterday, on the 32nd anniversary of the 1979 revolution and my birthday, I watched the youth of Egypt in awe. They finished what the Green movement couldn’t achieve two years ago. It was of course an ironic coincidence to watch Mubarak leave on the same day Shah’s regime fell. But contrary to the comparison the supreme leader of Iran drew between the revolution of 1979 and the uprising of the Egyptian people, the two events have little in common beside the date of the of victory. 

Every hour that has passed since the downfall of Mubarak, I see signs that the Iranian dictatorship is more nervous about the inspiration the people powered movement in Egypt will provide. The similarities of Egyptian uprising and the Green movement and emotional response of the Green activists to the scenes of cheer and jubilation in Cairo tells me that the desire of young Iranians for a day when they can dance in streets of Tehran is not only still alive but ready to erupt soon. Very soon.

Anonymous sends a message to Iran.

Did they ever make good on their threats to mess with the Egyptian government?

h/t

abcworldnews:

View of Tahrir Square from space, captured at 11:18AM local time, courtesy DigitalGlobe.  The latest from ABC News here.

One of the things that was highlighted for me throughout this process in Egypt is that there is still a lot of power in the idea of the public square. We all want to talk about what role social media has played in this revolution, but I think it would be unfair not to recognize the role that Tahrir Square played as well. It was very much a player in this historic melodrama:

The square was originally called Midan Ismaileyya (English: Ismailia Square), after the 19th-century rulerKhedive Ismail, who commissioned the new downtown district’s ‘Paris on the Nile' design. After the Egyptian Revolution of 1919 the square became widely known as Tahrir (liberation) Square, but the square was not officially renamed until the Egyptian Revolution of 1952, which changed Egypt from a constitutional monarchy into a republic.
The square became established as a focal point and a symbol for the ongoing Egyptian democracy demonstrations. On the night of 2 February, violence between the pro-Mubarak and pro-democracy demonstrators erupted in the square and its approaches, with pavements being broken up for use as projectiles. Within a week, due to international media coverage, the image and name of Tahrir Square became known worldwide. Tahrir Square erupted in a massive celebration on 11 Feburary 2011 when Hosni Mubarak officially stepped down from office.
A Facebook page by the name tahrir square ميدان التحرير was maintained by a rotating staff of 20 at one point during the uprising, particularly to offset the lack of, or distorted, coverage of the events in state-run media.

abcworldnews:

View of Tahrir Square from space, captured at 11:18AM local time, courtesy DigitalGlobeThe latest from ABC News here.

One of the things that was highlighted for me throughout this process in Egypt is that there is still a lot of power in the idea of the public square. We all want to talk about what role social media has played in this revolution, but I think it would be unfair not to recognize the role that Tahrir Square played as well. It was very much a player in this historic melodrama:

The square was originally called Midan Ismaileyya (EnglishIsmailia Square), after the 19th-century rulerKhedive Ismail, who commissioned the new downtown district’s ‘Paris on the Nile' design. After the Egyptian Revolution of 1919 the square became widely known as Tahrir (liberation) Square, but the square was not officially renamed until the Egyptian Revolution of 1952, which changed Egypt from a constitutional monarchy into a republic.

The square became established as a focal point and a symbol for the ongoing Egyptian democracy demonstrations. On the night of 2 February, violence between the pro-Mubarak and pro-democracy demonstrators erupted in the square and its approaches, with pavements being broken up for use as projectiles. Within a week, due to international media coverage, the image and name of Tahrir Square became known worldwide. Tahrir Square erupted in a massive celebration on 11 Feburary 2011 when Hosni Mubarak officially stepped down from office.

Facebook page by the name tahrir square ميدان التحرير was maintained by a rotating staff of 20 at one point during the uprising, particularly to offset the lack of, or distorted, coverage of the events in state-run media.

Mubarak’s strategy throughout this ordeal has been to constantly double down

Either he is truly insane, as negevrockcity suggests, or he’s craftier than anyone is giving him credit for right now.

If his goal is to make a military regime look better by comparison, then he’s doing a great job.

Ponder that for a moment.

The appearance of change

On August 19, 1991, when recently elected Soviet Presidium Boris Yeltsin climbed one of the tanks occupying Red Square to diffuse an attempted coup by nationalist hardliners, as well as the pro-democracy protesters flooding the streets, it looked to many like the end of the much-despised Soviet regime. Twenty years later, the Russian democracy remains dominated by Soviet officials and all their bad habits, from low-level bureaucracies all the way to the office of the Prime Minister, which is held by a former officer with the KGB. Civil rights in Russia are scarce, with dissidents regularly arrested and journalists turning up dead. Transparency International ranks Russia as one of the most corrupt nations in the world, below Iran, Haiti, and Yemen.

With reports that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is expected to announce his resignation in the face of popular protests, the Soviet Union’s dissolution provides an important lesson. Even with Mubarak gone, Mubarak’s Egypt — composed of countless bureaucracies, institutions, and officials — is likely to remain for a generation or more. If this one man departs, it will be an historic moment for Egypt and for the Middle Eastern struggle for democracy. But the arbitrary, corrupt, and violent regime that Mubarak has spent 29 years constructing will not disappear with him.

- Max Fisher

The protesters have tried to keep momentum by spilling south toward Parliament. But Parliament is not enough, and everyone knows it. The two sites commonly mentioned for the protesters’ next step are the president’s palace and the state TV building, which in January was attacked but not seized. During my years in Cairo, before any of the recent troubles, the state TV building was always heavily guarded and assumed to be a vital prize for anyone attempting a coup. It remains a forbidding target, with snipers in the windows and tanks on the streets. If the protesters mobilize to march there, expect violence.
Graeme Wood
producermatthew:

Reuters photo: Demonstrators scream in their stronghold in Tahrir Square, Cairo.

Are these the faces of a people who will be happy with military leadership?

producermatthew:

Reuters photo: Demonstrators scream in their stronghold in Tahrir Square, Cairo.

Are these the faces of a people who will be happy with military leadership?

thedailyfeed:

Old Rupert always gives the news the respect it deserves, right?

Something in the water (does not compute)

newsflick:

“It looks like a military coup … I feel worry and anxiety. The problem is not with the president it is with the regime”

— Essam al-Erian, a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s biggest opposition group, said on Thursday he feared the Egyptian army was staging a military coup.

Andrew Exum highlights the real benchmark to watch for (via The Dish):

If the rumors are true, and if Hosni Mubarak steps down today, the most interesting "Friedman Unit" will be the six months starting now. We will see what kind of order replaces — or doesn’t replace — the current regime, and we will see how the disorganized opposition groups fracture and fight among themselves about the way forward. The true meaning of this uprising will be found not in what happens today or what has taken place in Tahrir Square over the past three weeks but in the weeks and months ahead.

seaofgreen:

The Iranian judiciary on Wednesday rejected a request by opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karubi to hold a rally Monday in support of the antigovernment uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, the Iranian Labor News Agency reported.

“If an individual truly shares the brave Egyptians and Tunisians motivation, then he will participate in the rally to be held on [Friday], the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution’s victory, along with the government and the nation,” said Iranian Judiciary Spokesman Gholamhoseyn Ezhe’i.

“On the other hand, choosing another day [to hold a rally] means these individuals wish to be in a separate front and will create divisions,” he added. “This is a political act but the people have to be aware, and if required, they [people] will respond to them.”

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has characterized the protests in Tunisia and Egypt as an “Islamic awakening” similar to Iran’s own 1979 Islamic Revolution, the 32nd anniversary of which is to be celebrated Friday across Iran. Mousavi and Karrubi, meanwhile, have likened the protests in the Arab world to the antigovernment protests they led following the 2009 disputed presidential elections.

Storm clouds.

As outlined by the Asia Times, Iran’s rate of economic growth is close to zero, compared to three percent for Tunisia and 4.6 percent in Egypt. The official unemployment rate in Iran is reported at about 15 percent of the working-age population, and while that is roughly similar to the unemployment figures in Tunisia, most independent estimates place Iran’s unemployed at closer to 30 percent. While Egypt’s rate of inflation stands at an astonishing 12 percent, that is approximately half of Iran’s inflation rate, which economists estimate to be close to 24 percent. According to the United Nations, some 20 to 30 percent of Egypt’s population lives below the poverty line (the number in Tunisia is about eight percent). Compare that to the approximately 25 percent in Iran.
the situation in Tehran looks worse than Egypt and Tunisia
Iran Opposition Leader: Egypt Revolt Tests Tehran Regime

Mehdi Karoubi, the Iranian opposition leader, said on Tuesday that the demonstration planned in Tehran next week in solidarity with the protest movements in Egypt and Tunisia is both a test of the Iranian regime and its opponents.

Since the Iranian government is painting events in Cairo and elsewhere as the long-awaited regional blossoming of its own Islamic revolution, to deny a permit for such a march would show that their position in support of the Arab movements is fake, Mr. Karoubi, 72, said in a rare interview from Tehran, conducted via a video-Internet link.

For the opposition, events in Cairo mirror the post-election protest movement in Iran circa 2009, not 1979, and could give new blood to the Green movement for political reform that he said has largely been battered into submission by government oppression.

“Any kind of event that involves the rise of the people and the fight against dictatorship in the Muslim world is in our benefit,” said Mr. Karoubi, speaking in Persian from inside the isolation of his home. “Next Monday will be a test for the Green movement—if the government issues a permit, there will be a huge demonstration and it will show how alive the Green movement is.”