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“Mubarak Will Hunt Us Down One by One”
“May be preparing for something which he does not want the world to see.”
WASHINGTON - February 3 - Pro-regime forces in Cairo are attacking and detaining media and human rights workers, leading to wide-spread concerns about an increase in state violence against pro-democracy protesters. Egypt is 7 hours ahead of U.S. ET. For online resources; see: accuracy.org/online-resources-on-egypt
Based in Cairo, Mekay reports for Inter Press Service and other outlets. He just wrote the Institute for Public Accuracy: "Just outside Tahrir Square right now. Pro-Mubarak ‘hired muscle' is attacking journalists and stopping them from going into the square. These are the government types, possibly even police staff in plainclothes. They are confiscating all cameras. They set up road blocks around most entryways to the square. I sense they may be preparing for something tomorrow, Friday. Friday has been called by the anti-Mubarak movement ‘The Departure Friday' i.e. a day in which Mubarak will decide to step down. Government supporters and apparently former police force members are searching all those heading towards Tahrir before turning them back. They confiscate food, water and medicine.
"Mubarak may be preparing for something which he does not want the world to see. The government is using all tools it can to thwart tomorrow's big marches in Tahrir Square and elsewhere. They are sending text messages in Arabic through the local mobile phone companies warning people about ‘getting into trouble.' One message reads: ‘Oh you young people of Egypt, listen to the voice of reason and be warned of rumors. Egypt is above all.' Mubarak has always portrayed himself as a wise man and the ‘voice of reason.'"
Currently in Cairo, Cassel is based in Beirut, Lebanon and is assistant editor of The Electronic Intifada. His website is JustImage.org and his tweets from Cairo can be followed at twitter.com/justimage. He said today: "Egyptians are risking their lives to stay in the streets and demand an end to the U.S.-backed dictatorship in their country. They've proved they will not surrender their fight until President Hosni Mubarak leaves. ... As the peaceful protests have continued at Tahrir (Liberation) Square effectively shutting down all of Cairo, so has the thuggery of the regime. From Cairo it seems that the outcome of the massive protests will be nothing other than Mubarak's immediate resignation." See: http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11773.shtml and http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11763.shtml
Hassan [a pseudonym] is foreign student now in Cairo. She said today: "The situation is changing quickly. Yesterday the army left Tahrir Square at dark, leaving the protesters open to attacks by pro-regime forces. The blogger Sandmonkey was beaten and detained. ... The regime might be following a strategy of creating so much chaos so that the protests become unsustainable."
Last night Sandmonkey wrote: "I have no illusions about this regime or its leader, and how he will pluck us and hunt us down one by one till we are over and done with and eight months from now will pay people to stage fake protests urging him not to leave power and he will stay ‘because he has to acquiesce to the voice of the people.' This is a losing battle and they have all the weapons, but we will continue fighting until we can't. ..." Sandmonkey, however, is no longer being detained: twitter.com/#!/sandmonkey
Lockman is a professor in the department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at New York University. He said today: "The initial vision of the Obama administration and key military leaders in Egypt seems to have been that Mubarak would hang on until his term ended in September. Meanwhile, the regime would engage in ‘dialogue' with the opposition without actually conceding anything of substance, and the momentum of the demonstrators in the streets would dissipate. Some of the old opposition parties, with little popular credibility or support, might be willing to accept some crumbs from the table of power and cut a deal with the regime; the hard-line opposition would then be isolated, marginalized and destroyed. This is more or less how the Iranian regime crushed the protest movement there after the June 2006 elections. In the long run, this might enable the Mubarak regime to survive even without Mubarak at its head, with no real opening to democracy, free elections, etc. This regime is very good at using a calibrated combination of repression and incentives to suppress the opposition; it hasn't stayed in power for three decades for nothing.
"But it is not clear whether this scenario will work. The violent efforts we saw yesterday to drive the protesters out of Tahrir [Liberation] Square and other strongholds of the opposition suggest that Mubarak is not ready to allow himself to be shoved aside, or even to share power, which may well strengthen the resolve of the demonstrators to hold out for Mubarak's immediate removal from power. If the masses return to the streets, Mubarak will have to step up the violence, which may isolate him further. And it isn't clear if the military is prepared to let the situation get out of control; its leaders may decide to throw Mubarak overboard sooner rather than later if that is what it takes to maintain their position and status, and prevent more extensive changes. So Friday's demonstration, and the responses to it of the regime and the military, will be critical."