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Fw: Fisk joins protesters on top of a Cairo tank, death to dictators

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  • Romi Elnagar
    This article explain what my Egyptian-born husband has also been telling me:  that Omar Suleiman was a choice amenable to Israel.       Hajja Romi
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 31, 2011
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      This article explain what my Egyptian-born husband has also been telling me:  that Omar Suleiman was a choice amenable to Israel.
            Hajja Romi



      IRAN - BEN ALI.


      Egypt: Death Throes
      of a Dictatorship.

      Our writer joins protesters atop a Cairo tank as the army
      shows signs of backing the people against Mubarak's

      By Robert Fisk

      January 30, 2011 "The Independent" -- The Egyptian tanks,
      the delirious protesters sitting atop them, the flags, the
      40,000 protesters weeping and crying and cheering in
      Freedom Square and praying around them, the Muslim
      Brotherhood official sitting amid the tank passengers.
      Should this be compared to the liberation of Bucharest?
      Climbing on to an American-made battle tank myself, I
      could only remember those wonderful films of the
      liberation of Paris. A few hundred metres away, Hosni
      Mubarak's black-uniformed security police were still
      firing at demonstrators near the interior ministry. It was
      a wild, historical victory celebration, Mubarak's own
      tanks freeing his capital from his own dictatorship.

      In the pantomime world of Mubarak himself – and of Barack
      Obama and Hillary Clinton in Washington – the man who
      still claims to be president of Egypt swore in the most
      preposterous choice of vice-president in an attempt to
      soften the fury of the protesters – Omar Suleiman, Egypt's
      chief negotiator with Israel and his senior intelligence
      officer, a 75-year-old with years of visits to Tel Aviv
      and Jerusalem and four heart attacks to his credit. How
      this elderly apparatchik might be expected to deal with
      the anger and joy of liberation of 80 million Egyptians is
      beyond imagination. When I told the demonstrators on the
      tank around me the news of Suleiman's appointment, they
      burst into laughter.

      Their crews, in battledress and smiling and in some cases
      clapping their hands, made no attempt to wipe off the
      graffiti that the crowds had spray-painted on their tanks.
      "Mubarak Out – Get Out", and "Your regime is over,
      Mubarak" have now been plastered on almost every Egyptian
      tank on the streets of Cairo. On one of the tanks circling
      Freedom Square was a senior member of the Muslim
      Brotherhood, Mohamed Beltagi. Earlier, I had walked beside
      a convoy of tanks near the suburb of Garden City as crowds
      scrambled on to the machines to hand oranges to the crews,
      applauding them as Egyptian patriots. However crazed
      Mubarak's choice of vice-president and his gradual
      appointment of a powerless new government of cronies, the
      streets of Cairo proved what the United States and EU
      leaders have simply failed to grasp. It is over.

      Mubarak's feeble attempts to claim that he must end
      violence on behalf of the Egyptian people – when his own
      security police have been responsible for most of the
      cruelty of the past five days – has elicited even further
      fury from those who have spent 30 years under his
      sometimes vicious dictatorship. For there are growing
      suspicions that much of the looting and arson was carried
      out by plainclothes cops – including the murder of 11 men
      in a rural village in the past 24 hours – in an attempt to
      destroy the integrity of the protesters campaigning to
      throw Mubarak out of power. The destruction of a number of
      communications centres by masked men – which must have
      been co-ordinated by some form of institution – has also
      raised suspicions that the plainclothes thugs who beat
      many of the demonstrators were to blame.

      But the torching of police stations across Cairo and in
      Alexandria and Suez and other cities was obviously not
      carried out by plainclothes cops. Late on Friday, driving
      to Cairo 40 miles down the Alexandria highway, crowds of
      young men had lit fires across the highway and, when cars
      slowed down, demanded hundreds of dollars in cash.
      Yesterday morning, armed men were stealing cars from their
      owners in the centre of Cairo.

      Infinitely more terrible was the vandalism at the Egyptian
      National Museum. After police abandoned this greatest of
      ancient treasuries, looters broke into the red-painted
      building and smashed 4,000-year-old pharaonic statues,
      Egyptian mummies and magnificent wooden boats, originally
      carved – complete with their miniature crews – to
      accompany kings to their graves. Glass cases containing
      priceless figurines were bashed in, the black-painted
      soldiers inside pushed over. Again, it must be added that
      there were rumours before the discovery that police caused
      this vandalism before they fled the museum on Friday
      night. Ghastly shades of the Baghdad museum in 2003. It
      wasn't as bad as that looting, but it was a most awful
      archeological disaster.

      In my night journey from 6th October City to the capital,
      I had to slow down when darkened vehicles loomed out of
      the darkness. They were smashed, glass scattered across
      the road, slovenly policemen pointing rifles at my
      headlights. One jeep was half burned out. They were the
      wreckage of the anti-riot police force which the
      protesters forced out of Cairo on Friday. Those same
      demonstrators last night formed a massive circle around
      Freedom Square to pray, "Allah Alakbar" thundering into
      the night air over the city.

      And there are also calls for revenge. An al-Jazeera
      television crew found 23 bodies in the Alexandria
      mortuary, apparently shot by the police. Several had
      horrifically mutilated faces. Eleven more bodies were
      discovered in a Cairo mortuary, relatives gathering around
      their bloody remains and screaming for retaliation against
      the police.

      Cairo now changes from joy to sullen anger within minutes.
      Yesterday morning, I walked across the Nile river bridge
      to watch the ruins of Mubarak's 15-storey party
      headquarters burn. In front stood a vast poster
      advertising the benefits of the party – pictures of
      successful graduates, doctors and full employment, the
      promises which Mubarak's party had failed to deliver in 30
      years – outlined by the golden fires curling from the
      blackened windows of the party headquarters. Thousands of
      Egyptians stood on the river bridge and on the motorway
      flyovers to take pictures of the fiercely burning building
      – and of the middle-aged looters still stealing chairs and
      desks from inside.

      Yet the moment a Danish television team arrived to film
      exactly the same scenes, they were berated by scores of
      people who said that they had no right to film the fires,
      insisting that Egyptians were proud people who would never
      steal or commit arson. This was to become a theme during
      the day: that reporters had no right to report anything
      about this "liberation" that might reflect badly upon it.
      Yet they were still remarkably friendly and – despite
      Obama's pusillanimous statements on Friday night – there
      was not the slightest manifestation of hostility against
      the United States. "All we want – all – is Mubarak's
      departure and new elections and our freedom and honour," a
      30-year-old psychiatrist told me. Behind her, crowds of
      young men were clearing up broken crash barriers and road
      intersection fences from the street – an ironic reflection
      on the well-known Cairo adage that Egyptians will never,
      ever clean their roads.

      Mubarak's allegation that these demonstrations and arson –
      this combination was a theme of his speech refusing to
      leave Egypt – were part of a "sinister plan" is clearly at
      the centre of his claim to continued world recognition.
      Indeed, Obama's own response – about the need for reforms
      and an end to such violence – was an exact copy of all the
      lies Mubarak has been using to defend his regime for three
      decades. It was deeply amusing to Egyptians that Obama –
      in Cairo itself, after his election – had urged Arabs to
      grasp freedom and democracy. These aspirations disappeared
      entirely when he gave his tacit if uncomfortable support
      to the Egyptian president on Friday. The problem is the
      usual one: the lines of power and the lines of morality in
      Washington fail to intersect when US presidents have to
      deal with the Middle East. Moral leadership in America
      ceases to exist when the Arab and Israeli worlds have to
      be confronted.

      And the Egyptian army is, needless to say, part of this
      equation. It receives much of the $1.3bn of annual aid
      from Washington. The commander of that army, General
      Tantawi – who just happened to be in Washington when the
      police tried to crush the demonstrators – has always been
      a very close personal friend of Mubarak. Not a good omen,
      perhaps, for the immediate future.

      So the "liberation" of Cairo – where, grimly, there came
      news last night of the looting of the Qasr al-Aini
      hospital – has yet to run its full course. The end may be
      clear. The tragedy is not over.

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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