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Egypt: Rage against the Mubaraks | Editorial | Comment is free | The Guardian

There is one cry that stands out in Egypt: dictatorship will no longer hold us down


Editorial
The Guardian, Thursday 27 January 2011

It has been 34 years since Egypt was shaken by mass demonstrations on the scale of Tuesday's "Day of Rage". In 1977, Anwar Sadat's decision to cut subsidies on food and fuel ignited three days of rallies until the government relented and restored them. Today, the rage is directed against not just a specific act, but a whole sclerotic regime. Mass arrests will not stem it.

Like Tunisia, the revolt is leaderless. Egypt's interior ministry's first response was to blame the Muslim Brotherhood, but the banned Islamist group has played little part in the demonstrations. Nor has the Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, around which opposition to the regime at one time coalesced. There is a reason why a national unity government which includes the opposition has been so difficult to stitch together in Tunisia. It is because remnants of the old regime are trying to ride a tidal wave over which they have no control. It is only when they all go, and fresh elections held, that political calm will be restored.

The consequences of that happening in Egypt are slim. Egypt differs from Tunisia in many respects – its size, its traditional role as the Arab world's political and cultural leader, although that has lessened of late. But as a wave of protest, sparked by self-immolation, unemployment and high food prices, sweeps the Arab world from Mauritania to Saudi Arabia, there is one cry that stands out in Egypt: dictatorship will no longer hold us down. Jack Shenker, our reporter, got a brief taste of the beating and maltreatment that Egyptians routinely receive at the hands of plain-clothed police during President Hosni Mubarak's long years of emergency rule. If nothing else happens, the idea that the Arab world needs ageing dictators as a bulwark against the rising tide of Islamism has been holed below the water line.

The 82-year-old president is sensitive to calls that he must go. He has health problems, has been in power for nearly 30 years, and has no designated successor. Attempts to groom his son Gamal have been resisted by the army. Besides, a man like Gamal who has been at the centre of a privatisation programme will find it hard to meet growing popular demands to lessen the gap between rich and poor. In a cable written in May 2009 the US ambassador to Cairo, Margaret Scobey, predicted that the ageing president would seek a sixth term.

That surely must be off the agenda now. Mubarak is a survivor, but if he is the political realist Scobey portrayed him as, he must now realise that retirement at last beckons. This may only herald the arrival of another strongman like the intelligence chief Omar Suleiman. But in the end, only free elections will begin to address Egypt's political problems.


guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2011
 

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Thousands of Egyptians' Violent Protests Enter Second Day

FoxNews.com - Thousands of Egyptians' Violent Protests Enter Second Day

Published January 26, 2011 | Associated Press


CAIRO -- Thousands of Egyptians vented their rage against President Hosni Mubarak's autocratic government in a second day of protests Wednesday that defied a ban on public gatherings. Baton-wielding police responded with tear gas and beatings in a crackdown that showed zero tolerance for dissent.

Egypt's largest anti-government protests in years echoed the uprising in Tunisia, threatening to destabilize the leadership of the most important U.S. ally in the Arab world. The ability of the protesters to sustain the momentum for two days in the face of such a heavy-handed police response was a rare feat in this country.

One protester and a policeman were killed Wednesday, bringing the two-day death toll to six. Some 860 people have been rounded up, and Facebook, Twitter and cell phones -- key to organizing protests -- have been disrupted.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called on Egypt to adopt broad reforms and not crack down on the anti-government crowds. She urged the Mubarak regime to "take this opportunity to implement political, economic and social reforms that will answer the legitimate interests of the Egyptian people."

Still, there was no indication that Mubarak, who has ruled with an iron fist for nearly 30 years, intends to relinquish power or make democratic or economic concessions, and no sign he would rein in his security forces.

The defiant demonstrations continued late into the night. In Cairo, dozens of riot police with helmets and shields charged more than 2,000 marchers on a downtown boulevard along the Nile. Smaller clashes broke out across the capital. In one, protesters stoned police, who responded with a volley of tear gas from a bridge over the Nile.

One protester, businessman Said Abdel-Motalib, called the civil unrest "a red light to the regime. This is a warning."

In cities across Egypt, protesters incensed by Egypt's grinding poverty, rising prices and high unemployment hurled rocks and firebombs at police and smashed the windows of military vehicles.

The Interior Ministry warned Wednesday that police would not tolerate any gatherings, and thousands of security forces were out on the streets poised to move quickly against any unrest. Many were plainclothes officers whose leather jackets and casual sweat shirts allowed them to blend in easily with protesters.

Thousands of policemen in riot gear and backed by armored vehicles also took up posts in Cairo, on bridges across the Nile, at major intersections and squares, as well as outside key installations, including the state TV building and the headquarters of Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Party.

Police fired tear gas to disperse a crowd of several hundred activists on a main thoroughfare, chasing them through side streets as both sides pelted each other with rocks while hundreds of onlookers watched. Plainclothes officers shoved some into waiting vans, slapping them in the face.

Observing the clashes, Omima Maher, a 37-year-old housewife lamented her money woes. "Everything is so horrible. I hope we can change it," she said.

A policeman and a demonstrator were killed Wednesday when a car ran them over during a protest in a poor central Cairo neighborhood, security officials said. Earlier, three demonstrators died in clashes in the city of Suez and one policemen was killed in Cairo violence.

In Suez, east of Cairo, a peaceful gathering turned violent at sunset when protesters threw rocks at a morgue where they were waiting for the body of a man killed a day earlier. Police broke up the crowd with tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition fired into the air.

Women screamed as they called their sons home, and men vomited in the streets from the acrid white tear gas that filled the air.

Protesters also firebombed the ruling party headquarters and a police station, damaging both buildings as burning trash littered the streets.

In the southern city of Assiut, witnesses said riot police set upon some 100 activists, beating them with batons and arresting nearly half of them. "Down, down Hosni Mubarak!" chanted the crowd. "Oh, people, join us or you will be next."

Although Wednesday's demonstrations were smaller than the tens of thousands who rallied a day earlier, the latest unrest follows repeated public outcries in recent months over police brutality, food prices, corruption and, more recently, sectarian strife between Christians and Muslims.

Parliamentary elections in November were widely decried as fraudulent, rigged to allow candidates from Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Party to win all but a small fraction of the chamber's 318 seats.

Many in Egypt see the events as a sign of the authoritarian leader's vulnerability in an election year. There is speculation the 82-year-old Mubarak, who recently experienced serious health problems, may be setting his son Gamal up for hereditary succession.

There is considerable public opposition to a father-son succession and, according to leaked U.S. diplomatic memos, such a scenario does not meet with the approval of the powerful military. Still, the regime's tight hold on power has made it virtually impossible for any serious alternative to Mubarak to emerge.

Nearly half of Egypt's 80 million people live under or just above the poverty line set by the World Bank at $2 a day. Combined, the poverty, corruption and social disparity pose a threat to Mubarak's regime at a time when he and his son have been unable to improve the lives of the country's poor.

A persistent rumor that Mubarak's family has fled the country was denied Wednesday as "baseless" by a senior ruling party official. However, the fact that such a rumor found legs speaks to the widely held perception that Mubarak could follow the example of Tunisia's longtime authoritarian ruler, who fled the country with his family in the face of that country's popular uprising.

While that is unlikely, failure to rein in the unrest could tempt the military to intervene to take charge of the streets and restore order, or even realign the political order and put forward one if its own as a presidential candidate.

Amr Moussa, the outspoken head of the Arab League once seen as a viable successor to Mubarak, painted a picture of an Arab world that is in turmoil when asked about events in Egypt.

"The Arab citizen is angry, is frustrated. That is the point. So the name of the game is reform," he said at Davos, where he is attending the World Economic Forum meetings.

Many Egyptian protesters say they have been inspired by the uprising in Tunisia -- even invoking the same slogans heard in the north African nation.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle invoked Tunisia Wednesday, saying the unrest in Egypt "underlines the necessity of democratization, of respect for human and civil rights."

"We are seeing in the last few weeks that a country's stability is not endangered by granting civil rights. It is through the refusal of civil and human rights that societies become unstable," he said.

------

Associated Press writers Maggie Michael in Cairo and Hadeel al-Shalchi in Suez contributed to this report.

Read more: FoxNews.com - Thousands of Egyptians' Violent Protests Enter Second Day
 

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A video for what is happening in Egypt, Mubarak and his regime uses live and rubber bullets as well as tear gas.

I can post more picture and videos, if you are interested to know more.

 

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I have no sympathy for the various, more or less murderous dictators of the Middle East, in whose Countries little trickles down to the general population.
Depending on their level of paranoia, sociopathic tendencies, and effectiveness of secret police, few potential opponents / political alternatives remain.
By their level of secrecy, Islamist fruitloops may be the strongest groups organized enough, and are certain to try to take advantage of the power vacuum.
To demonstrators who believe what comes after Mubarak can only be better; "beware of what you wish for."

I have lived in Iran for 10 years, and Iranians are far worse off than when the Shah was around.
"When the Shah was there, Iran had one King, now every Mullah is like a King."
 

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Let us wish they are more successful than the Green Movement in Iran in removing these despots from their country. And let us hope they don't suffer what poor Neda and the other killed, tortured and currently held Persians endured and are still suffering while fighting for freedom.

Queen Farah said it best about those who took the Shah's monarchy down:

"They promised the people Heaven..but instead opened the gates to Hell."

 

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Let us wish they are more successful than the Green Movement in Iran in removing these despots from their country. And let us hope they don't suffer what poor Neda and the other killed, tortured and currently held Persians endured and are still suffering while fighting for freedom.

Queen Farah said it best about those who took the Shah's monarchy down:

"They promised the people Heaven..but instead opened the gates to Hell."

Quite sad, after daughter Leila died of a drug overdose 10 years ago, Farah's youngest son Ali Reza shot himself this Jan 4th. Both suffered from severe depression.
 

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Quite sad, after daughter Leila died of a drug overdose 10 years ago, Farah's youngest son Ali Reza shot himself this Jan 4th. Both suffered from severe depression.
Indeed..I'm not sure how much more Queen Farah will be able to stand after losing the husband who was the light of her life, her beautiful daughter, and now one of her boys. I saw a documentary on her called "The Queen and I", which was the best I have seen of her so far as it detailed her daily life from a very personal perspective. In it, when she visited her daughter Leila's grave in Paris, it really breaks your heart as you see this regal Queen almost on her knees crying for her child..and she does the same for her husband every year..and now her son.

So sad to see Iran this way..when it used to be such a cosmopolitan and beautiful place under the Shah. Things weren't perfect with the Shah of course..but they sure as hell beat the way it is now.
 

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ElBaradei Under House Arrest as Demonstrations Rock Cairo

SPIEGEL ONLINE
01/28/2011 05:32 PM
Protests in Egypt
ElBaradei Under House Arrest as Demonstrations Rock Cairo

By Yassin Musharbash in Cairo

Pictures Photo Gallery: Cairo Protests Escalate - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Mass protests in Egypt continued to spread on Friday, with police breaking up demonstrations with tear gas and force. Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei has also been detained and President Hosni Mubarak has said he will address his people on Friday night.

Once Friday prayers finished in the Egyptian capital of Cairo, the scream of sirens filled the air. Soon after, demonstrators swarmed into the city center -- and police reacted with force. The sound of exploding tear gas grenades could be heard everywhere in the early afternoon; clouds of tear gas covered central Cairo like fog. Police also used water cannons and rubber bullets in an attempt to break up the demonstrations. Security personnel fired warning shots into the air.

The scenes of chaos and violence on Friday are the latest in a week full of protests as Egyptians take to the streets to protest the heavy-handed rule of President Hosni Mubarak, who has led the country for 30 years. Demonstrations began on Tuesday, and fully 1,000 people have been arrested since -- even before protests began on Friday.

Observers say that it is unlikely that Mubarak's regime will topple as readily as that of Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who fled his country earlier this month following mass protests. And police in Egypt appear to be doing all they can on Friday to restore order.

But for the first time since bread riots shook the country in 1977, large numbers of Egyptians are defying the country's ban on demonstrations and are taking to the streets.

Mubarak to Address the Nation

Egyptian authorities also placed opposition politician Mohamed ElBaradei under house arrest on Friday. Earlier in the day, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency and his supporters had joined forces with protesters. After being shot at with a water cannon, ElBaradei retreated to a mosque that was then circled by police. In the surrounding streets, police fired canisters of tear gas in order to prevent anyone from leaving the mosque. The tear gas canisters also caused several cars to catch on fire and several people suffered burn injuries.

The opposition Muslim Brotherhood has also supported the protests. The Islamist group stated Friday that five leaders and five former members of parliament had been arrested. The Egyptian government announced a nightfall curfew across the country, but demonstrators appeared to be ignoring it as evening progressed. Mubarak announced that he was going to address the nation on Friday evening.

Some of the rallies on Friday developed spontaneously, wherever protesters found the courage to gather together. "Join up, join up," a woman yells at passers-by on one of the bridges spanning the Nile River. Just as quickly as knots of protesters form, however, the police move in to try to disperse them.

Al-Jazeera has reported on Friday that protests are taking place across the country. And in Cairo, while quarters outside the city center are calm, security personnel are to be found on almost every street in central quarters. The protests, however, have continued. Only Tahrir Square, where tens of thousands gathered on Tuesday, is quiet as police have completely sealed it off, though demonstrators were pushing toward the square in the late afternoon.

Police Given Firm Orders

Just before Friday's demonstrations got underway, Egyptian security forces were reportedly instructed to use their weapons should the need arise. "The police received clear orders to stop all demonstrations and, should the need arise, to shoot directly at demonstrators," a security official said. Armed personnel carriers were parked on all large squares in the Egyptian capital with police cars filling the side streets.

It was difficult to gain a clear overview of the scale of Friday's protests and there were no confirmations available for reports of injured demonstrators. Al Jazeera reported on Friday that violent clashes took place on Abdel Moneim Riyad Square resulting in one death. Witnesses told Reuters of a dead protester in the city of Suez. Reports also emerged Friday of further protests in the cities of Alexandria, Minja, Assiut and Arish.

Egyptian officials have largely shut down both the Internet and mobile phone networks. The entire country has been mostly offline since early Friday morning, eliminating many of the tools protesters had been using to organize demonstrations. The monitoring site BGPmon has reported that 90 percent of the Egyptian Internet is down. Notable is the fact that almost all Internet providers blocked access in coordination with each other.

Ordered to Suspend Service

During similar events in other cases, social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter were typically blocked, a posting on BGPmon's site reads. But "in this case the government seems to be taking a shotgun approach by ordering ISPs to stop routing all networks." There are also currently massive disturbances and outages in the Egyptian mobile phone networks. European mobile phone giant Vodafone announced Friday that network operators in selected regions had been ordered to suspend service.

Meanwhile, a posting on a blog by James Cowie, an employee of Renesys, a New Hampshire-based company that monitors Internet routing data, states that the situation is completely different from the "modest Internet manipulation" that took in place in Tunisia, where "specific routes were blocked, or Iran, where the Internet stayed up in a rate-limited form designed to make Internet connectivity painfully slow." The Egyptian government's actions, Cowie wrote, "have essentially wiped their country from the global map." He adds that it remains to be seen "what happens when you disconnect a modern economy and 80,000,000 people from the Internet."

The servers hosting the websites of the Egyptian government and the US Embassy in Cairo were also apparently down, according CNN. But in Germany, the Foreign Ministry in Berlin said it still had a communications link to the German Embassy in Cairo. Meanwhile, several German package tour operators cancelled tours of Cairo offered to travelers. Egypt is a popular tourist destination for many Europeans seeking an escape from the winter cold.

URL:

* Protests in Egypt: ElBaradei Under House Arrest as Demonstrations Rock Cairo - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

RELATED SPIEGEL ONLINE LINKS:

* Photo Gallery: Cairo Protests Escalate
Photo Gallery: Cairo Protests Escalate - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International
* Concerns about the Muslim Brotherhood: Israel Fears Regime Change in Egypt (01/28/2011)
Concerns about the Muslim Brotherhood: Israel Fears Regime Change in Egypt - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International
* The World from Berlin: 'The Era of Paralysis in Egypt Has Ended' (01/27/2011)
The World from Berlin: 'The Era of Paralysis in Egypt Has Ended' - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International
* Mohamed ElBaradei on Democracy in Egypt: 'There Is No Turning Back Now' (01/25/2011)
Mohamed ElBaradei on Democracy in Egypt: 'There Is No Turning Back Now' - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International
* Tunisia's Worrying Precedent: Arab Rulers Fear Spread of Democracy Fever (01/25/2011)
Tunisia's Worrying Precedent: Arab Rulers Fear Spread of Democracy Fever - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

RELATED INTERNET LINKS

* BGPmon
Egypt falls off the Internet | BGPmon.net Blog
* Renesys Blog: Egypt Leaves the Internet
Egypt Leaves the Internet - Renesys Blog
SPIEGEL ONLINE is not liable for the content of external web pages.


© SPIEGEL ONLINE 2011
 

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I watched Mubarak's TV speech making the same old promises repeated at big occasions.
The man looked arrogant. I seems 6 years as Sadat's vice president, and 29 year of ruling Egypt has left him out of touch with reality.

I watched on Euro News, which broadcasts in 15 or so European language sound tracks (you pick one) with very little spin.
Quite refreshing.
 

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I was actually awaiting to hear him apologize and getting ready to get lost.

There was a joke circulating prior to his speech; interior minister calls up Moubarak "are you ready for the nation's farewell speech?"

Moubarak, replies back: "where are they going?"

I guess this joke reflects reality...
 

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World asks Mubarak to reform and repent

World asks Hosni Mubarak to reform and repent - Hindustan Times

Agence France-Presse
Paris, January 29, 2011
First Published: 11:55 IST(29/1/2011)
Last Updated: 12:11 IST(29/1/2011)
World asks Mubarak to reform and repent
World leaders voiced mounting fears as thousands of protesters clashed with troops in Egypt, calling for restraint on all sides and urging Egyptian leaders to heed the cries for reform.

Leading a chorus of global concern, US President Barack Obama called on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to take concrete steps towards political reform, and to refrain from using violence against protesters.

"The people of Egypt have rights that are universal," Obama said shortly after speaking by telephone for 30 minutes with the Egyptian leader, whose country has been rocked by four days of protests against his rule.

Obama said he told Mubarak to deliver on promises made in a speech to the Egyptian people to introduce democratic and economic reforms.

"I told him he has a responsibility to give meaning to those words. To take concrete steps and actions that deliver on that promise," Obama said.

Some 27 people have been killed in the four days of countrywide anti-government rallies, which have also left more than hundreds injured and thousands in detention.

In a televised address early Saturday, Mubarak said he had sacked Egypt's government and vowed to bring in democratic and economic reforms.

"I have asked the government to resign and tomorrow there will be a new government," a stoney-faced Mubarak said. "We will not backtrack on reforms.

"We will continue with new steps which will ensure the independence of the judiciary and its rulings, and more freedom for citizens," he added.

Mubarak has played a key role as a powerful regional voice in the Israeli-Arab conflict during his 30 years in power.

And Washington, like many Western governments which have dealt with him, has struggled to formulate a response to the rapidly evolving crisis.

Earlier, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the protests "underscore that there are deep grievances within Egyptian society and the Egyptian government needs to understand that violence will not make these grievances go away."

The crisis -- inspired by the events which led to the ouster of Tunisia's long-time ruler earlier this month -- is to be discussed at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday.

"The continued use of force against demonstrators by police and state security forces is deeply troubling," said Catherine Ashton, the European Union's top foreign policy official.

She also called on Egyptian authorities to release all those rounded up in a crackdown on the protests.

Demonstrations also flared in central Paris Friday, calling for Mubarak's ouster, as well as outside the Egyptian embassies in Montreal and Caracas.

British Prime Minister David Cameron added his voice to the calls for reform in Egypt, after his Foreign Secretary William Hague warned of a "great danger of violence" due to the huge numbers of people on the street.

"What we need is reform in Egypt," Cameron told CNN television.

"I mean we support reform and progress in the greater strengthening of their democracy and civil rights and the rule of law. Clearly there are grievances that people have and they need to be met and matched."

France also voiced concern. "Only dialogue among all the parties" can improve matters, said French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie, adding such talks must "take into account aspirations that are being expressed for more liberty and democracy.

Eyeing a tide of regional unrest, which also saw demonstrations erupt on the streets of Yemen on Thursday, UN chief Ban Ki-moon Ban appealed to Arab governments to take note.

"What I have been saying repeatedly is that first of all, all concerned people or leaders should ensure that the situation in that region, particularly now in Egypt, does not and should not lead to further violence," he said.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt criticised the decision by Egyptian authorities to cut off Internet access, saying Myanmar was the only other country he could have think of to have taken the measure.

"In a situation like the one in Egypt, closing down the Internet may be downright dangerous," he warned.
HindustanTimes-Print
© Copyright 2010 Hindustan Times
 

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Concerns about the Muslim Brotherhood Israel Fears Regime Change in Egypt

SPIEGEL ONLINE
01/28/2011 01:13 PM
Concerns about the Muslim Brotherhood
Israel Fears Regime Change in Egypt

By Gil Yaron in Jerusalem

Israel is watching developments in Egypt with concern. The government is standing by autocratic Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, out of fear that the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood could take power and start supplying arms to Hamas.

Israel is usually a country where politicians have an opinion on any topic, and vociferously so. But in recent days, Israel's leadership has been unusually silent on a certain question. No one, it seems, is willing to make an official comment on the ongoing unrest in Egypt, where protesters have been holding anti-government rallies. It's not because Israel does not care about the riots ravaging its southern neighbor -- on the contrary, Israeli news channels, normally prone to parochialism, have been closely following recent events in the Arab world, from Tunisia to Lebanon.

Radio, television and newspapers constantly report the courage of the demonstrators in the streets of Cairo, not only relishing the historic spectacle, but openly expressing sympathy with Egypt's struggle for democracy.

But the Israeli government is keeping quiet. "We are closely monitoring the events, but we do not interfere in the internal affairs of a neighboring state," was the curt answer from the Israeli Foreign Ministry to requests for comments.

So for journalists looking for quotes, it is a happy coincidence that Israel's former Industry and Trade Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer resigned from the Israeli cabinet last week and can now freely express his opinions as a member of the opposition Labor Party. "I don't think it is possible (for there to be a revolution in Egypt)," Ben-Eliezer told Israeli Army Radio. "I see things calming down soon." The Iraqi-born former minister is a renowned expert on Israeli-Arab relations and is a friend of the Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman.

Ben Eliezer's statement is consistent with the assessment of members of Israel's intelligence community and Middle East experts, who point to the strength of Egypt's army. In his remarks to Army Radio, Ben-Eliezer also explained Israel's position on the protests. "Israel cannot do anything about what is happening there," he said. "All we can do is express our support for (Egyptian President Hosni) Mubarak and hope the riots pass quietly." He added that Egypt was Israel's most important ally in the region.

Uneasy Peace

Egypt was the first Arab state to sign a peace treaty with Israel, in 1979, but the relationship between the neighboring countries remains delicate. Good relations are limited to government circles. The regime in Cairo attempts to curtail the establishment of closer links between the countries' civil societies. The professional associations of doctors, engineers or lawyers, for example, require their members to declare that they will not contribute to normalizing relations with Israel.

Even 30 years after the peace agreement, annual trade between the neighboring countries only amounts to a value of $150 million (€110 million). (For comparison, Israel's trade with the European Union was worth around €20 billion in 2009.)

A recent incident involving the vice governor of the Sinai Peninsula reveals how many Egyptians think about Israel. After a shark attack off the coast, the official said that it could not be ruled out that the deadly fish had been released by Israeli intelligence to harm Egypt's tourism industry. After the bloody attack on a church in Alexandria on Jan. 1, a spokesman for Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood speculated that Israel could be responsible for the attack, with the intention of sowing discord between Christians and Muslims.

Indeed, the Muslim Brotherhood is one of the main reasons why official Israel seems to support Mubarak so keenly. It is considered the most popular political movement in Egypt, and its position regarding the peace treaty with Israel is clear: They want it revoked immediately. "Democracy is something beautiful," said Eli Shaked, who was Israel's ambassador to Cairo from 2003 to 2005, in an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE. "Nevertheless, it is very much in the interests of Israel, the United States and Europe that Mubarak remains in power."

For Israel, more is at stake than the current so-called "cold" peace with Egypt and a few tens of millions of dollars in trade. "Never before have Israel's strategic interests been so closely aligned with those of the Sunni states as today," says Shaked, referring to Arab countries whose populations are mainly Sunni Muslim, such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The recent publication of the US diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks showed what he means: Much of the Arab world, and especially Mubarak, sees Shiite Iran and its allies, such as Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in Lebanon, as an existential threat, just as Israel does.

Potential Serious Danger

"If regime change occurs in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood would take the helm, and that would have incalculable consequences for the region," says Shaked. The Israeli government has noted with concern the fact that, even after 30 years of peace, Egypt's army is still equipped and trained mainly with a possible war against Israel in mind.

A cancellation of the peace treaty would open up a new front with the 11th largest army in the world, which is equipped with modern American weapons. But what Israel fears more than a -- somewhat unlikely -- armed conflict with Egypt is an alliance between an Islamist regime in Cairo and Hamas, which considers itself an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Today the Egyptian army tries to stop -- albeit hesitantly -- weapons smuggling from Sinai to Gaza, the main supply route for Hamas. An Egyptian regime that opened the border with Gaza for arms deliveries would pose a serious danger to Israel.

Shaked considers the West's demands for more openness and democracy in Egypt to be a fatal mistake. "It is an illusion to believe that the dictator Mubarak could be replaced by a democracy," he says. "Egypt is still not capable of democracy," he adds, pointing out that the illiteracy rate is over 20 percent, to give just one example. The Muslim Brotherhood is the only real alternative, he opines, which would have devastating consequences for the West. "They will not change their anti-Western attitude when they come to power. That has not happened (with Islamist movements) anywhere: neither in Sudan, Iran nor Afghanistan."

Ultimately the choice is between a pro- or an anti-Western dictatorship, says Shaked. "It is in our interest that someone from Mubarak's inner circle takes over his legacy, at any cost." In the process, it is not possible to rule out massive bloodshed in the short term, he says. "It would not be the first time that riots in Egypt were brutally crushed."

URL:

* Concerns about the Muslim Brotherhood: Israel Fears Regime Change in Egypt - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

RELATED SPIEGEL ONLINE LINKS:

* The World from Berlin: 'The Era of Paralysis in Egypt Has Ended' (01/27/2011)
The World from Berlin: 'The Era of Paralysis in Egypt Has Ended' - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International
* Mohamed ElBaradei on Democracy in Egypt: 'There Is No Turning Back Now' (01/25/2011)
Mohamed ElBaradei on Democracy in Egypt: 'There Is No Turning Back Now' - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International
* Tunisia's Worrying Precedent: Arab Rulers Fear Spread of Democracy Fever (01/25/2011)
Tunisia's Worrying Precedent: Arab Rulers Fear Spread of Democracy Fever - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International
* SPIEGEL 360: Our Complete Coverage of the WikiLeaks Diplomatic Cables
WikiLeaks Diplomatic Cables - SPIEGEL ONLINE - Nachrichten


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I was in Egypt a few months ago, and talked with some ordinary Egyptians over a cup of coffee.
They told me those is power had recently changed the election rules placing restrictions on political parties and candidate's qualification requirement that only one person would qualify to be on the ballot, and that would be Moubarak's son. So they were setting the stage for him to take over. Most people on the street are not into politics, just trying to keep their job to make a living, and they had accepted 30 years of Moubarak because he did bring in the tourists. Over 70% of jobs in Luxsor are in the Tourism Industry. So there must be something that triggered this current riot.
 

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Sith Lord
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Tourism is restricted to some areas; in a country as big, and rich, distribution of wealth is not fair.

Problem is, if Islamists rise to power, Egypt can kiss tourism good bye and enter anarchy.
 

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What is the solution?

US aid only helps the party in power until the situation become unsupportable.

Tunisia, Lebanon, Egypt; Who is next?
Yemen?
Jordan?

The ones that need a revolution seem the least likely;
Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia,
 

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Cruise Control
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Published on Saturday, January 29, 2011 by ABC News
Egyptian Police Using U.S.-Made Tear Gas Against Demonstrators

by Sarah O. Wali and Deena A. Sami

Egyptian riot police are firing tear gas canisters bearing the label "Made in U.S.A" against street demonstrations in Cairo, according to protesters who provided ABC News with pictures of the canisters.The protestors said the tear gas canisters were recovered in Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo on Tuesday.

The label urges anyone who comes in contact with the gas "to seek assistance as soon as possible."

According to the canister labels, the tear gas is produced by Combined Systems International of Jamestown, Pennsylvania.

The company's web-site says it sells "non-lethal weapons" to foreign governments, without specifying Egypt.

A company spokesperson did not return calls by ABC News seeking comment.

The United States provides $1.3 billion a year in military financing for Egypt. According to the State Department's 2010 budget request, the aid is used to help strengthen and modernize the Egyptian army.

Egyptians who are part of the street demonstrations told ABC News that the evidence of the U.S.-made tear gas sends a powerful signal.

"The way I see it the U.S. administration supports dictators," said Aly Eltayeb, 26, who has participated in the protests since Tuesday.

"The way tear gas works is by spreading panic," he said. "Your eyes tear up a lot so you can't see, and you feel like your suffocating. You can actually breathe but you feel like you are suffocating so you try to run, but when you run you inhale more."

Protestors made the discovery of the U.S. tear canisters at the same time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other U.S. officials called for peaceful solutions and restraint by the Egyptian government.
© 2011 ABC News
 
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