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February 11, 2011 - No. 19

Desperate Bid of the U.S. to Avoid
Regime Change in Egypt


Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, February 11, 2011: Egyptians rally to celebrate the resignation of President
Hosni Mubarak and reiterate that the full extent of their demands for regime change be met. (Al Manar)

Desperate Bid of the U.S. to Avoid Regime Change in Egypt
"Canada's Role in Egypt's Democratic Development" -- Emergency Debate in the House of Commons - Pierre Soublière
Role of the Military Fully Exposed
Significant Developments in the Current Uprising

SUPPLEMENT
U.S.-Style Democracy Building in Egypt


Desperate Bid of the U.S. to Avoid
Regime Change in Egypt

The Anglo-Zionist imperialists, with the U.S. at the helm are desperately trying to divert the people's movement in Egypt from accomplishing its just aim of regime change and to block the further spread of this revolutionary fervour across the region. This situation constitutes arguably the greatest threat to the strategic interests of U.S. imperialism in decades, and it is a situation where the imperialists have little room to manoeuvre. As the Anglo-Zionist media today jubilantly declare that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's resignation settles the question, the real play of the U.S. to block the people's movement in Egypt has just begun. The military bid, announced today, to take over the helm of the sinking Egyptian ship is a thinly disguised U.S.-backed coup aimed at establishing facts on the ground that will block the people's striving for empowerment.


February 11, 2011: Egyptians in Tahrir Square celebrate the resignation of President Mubarak. (RIA Novosti)

No Rest for the Wicked

Their desperate bid entails a constant effort to buy time so as to put the facts on the ground necessary for a transition that suits their interests. Consider the scenario. The U.S. imperialists with the exception of a small coterie of recalcitrant elements, have always recognized that Mubarak must go but the question was always how. If, along with the rest of his regime, he was forced to step down according to the demands of the people, then the situation is grave for the imperialists. This is an equation where genuine regime change takes place, invariably leading to a renewed people's Egypt opposed to imperialism. Instead, the U.S., Israel and other foreign powers have opted to orchestrate a situation where Mubarak goes while another U.S.-client government is established -- the much sought after and acclaimed "orderly transition" of the reactionaries including Canada -- so that the people would continue to be marginalized while the foreign rule takes another form. Hence the announcement that the newly appointed Vice-President Omar Suleiman, former head of Mubarak's murderous intelligence agency, is assuming various presidential powers while the military has taken over control of the country.

To date the Egyptian people have refused to be diverted by either the carrot or the stick. In regard to the former, the token negotiations Mubarak claimed to conduct with some opposition forces failed to demobilize the people. There is no reason to believe that they will be demobilized by Mubarak's resignation while the military makes promises about lifting the State of Emergency once this situation ends. In regard to the use of the stick, all efforts to use the police forces, military or hired thugs (dubbed pro-Mubarak supporters) to quell the protests through violence, torture, murder, arrest or sheer chaos have also failed. If anything, the numbers and militancy of the protestors have swelled. Workers have joined the protestors after the unions held another General Strike starting on February 8 and large numbers of expatriates continue to arrive to join the protestors. So, the flip side of the equation is that the Egyptian people have been doing everything possible to block the imperialist and reactionary strategies aimed at wiping out their movement. How will this clash of interests manifest itself in the coming days?

The People's "Last Warning" Communiqué

Events in Egypt are unfolding quickly. Today is the day protestors, in the face of Mubarak's appearances on TV arrogantly running governmental meetings as if all were well, declared a deadline for the entire regime to step down. Entitled "Last Warning," the communiqué of the protestors stated that if this demand were not to be met by the deadline, they would mobilize towards the presidential palace in Cairo to arrest Mubarak for crimes against the people. In doing so, they would directly confront the military guarding the palace and the surrounding rich district where it is located. At the eleventh hour, with tens of thousands surrounding the presidential palace and millions assembled at Tahrir Square and in cities all over Egypt, Mubarak resigned, handing over the reins of power to the military, as if the Egyptian people want to exchange one form of military rule for another.


February 10, 2011: Egyptians gathered in Tahrir square to listen to President Mubarak's speech doff their shoes
as a sign of profound disrespect to emphatically reject the regime's attempts to hold onto power. (Xinhua)

Today may yet prove to be the most decisive day since the protests erupted on January 25. The protestors' courageous proposal to arrest Mubarak was highly significant. In taking this stand, they cut through all the forked tongue talk of the reactionary regime and imperialists, forcing them to decide: will the army be mobilized against the people? What will the likes of Obama and others do with their proclamations of democracy and non-violence if a bloodbath is unleashed by the military against the people? Managing finally to have Mubarak resign and the military take over may de-escalate the situation temporarily, but everyone knows it is far from over. After 30 years of emergency rule, the Egyptian people are no more likely to accept a military takeover in the guise of democracy than they have the current regime.

Little Room to Manoeuvre

The contradictions are sharp. Even though Mubarak was the head of a U.S. client state, his refusal to follow U.S. dictate to make a clean exit when he saw it as a threat to his power made life especially difficult for the imperialists. Simultaneously, Mubarak knew that without U.S.-backing he had no chance of maintaining power. The army cannot survive without the long-standing funding of the U.S. Yet it is this same military that would be mobilized to break the protests, even as the U.S. recognizes that full-scale military attack against the protestors will likely only further enrage the people against the same U.S. known to back that military.

How will the imperialists put in place the orderly transition in the region -- that neoliberal multiparty system whose aim is to block the people from exercising political power in their own interests? The dictatorships the U.S. imperialists have propped up in the region from Egypt to Saudi Arabia are opposed to this token change which will see them lose their corrupt stranglehold in its present form. The people are refusing to accept any such U.S.-backed solutions whatsoever. A military takeover of the country will settle nothing so far as the people are concerned, even as it increases the potential for all-out military violence against the people.

This is the significance of Saudi Arabia giving refuge to the deposed President of Tunisia Zine Al Abidine Ben Ali, former friend of the U.S. who was abandoned by the Americans when it became clear that he could no longer maintain their interests in the face of the popular uprising. This is the significance of the earlier threat to the U.S. from Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, that his kingdom will prop up the tottering regime of the Egyptian president if the U.S. withdraws its support, particularly its funding of that regime. Similarly, this is the significance of their claim that they would replace U.S. funding to the military if necessary. The contradictions are sharp between an Obama administration trying to pacify through token, superficial "democratic" change the masses of people who refuse to be diverted or fooled, and the dictatorships/militaries of the U.S. client states which are quickly becoming an obstacle to U.S. imperialist interests by refusing to give up their corrupt power to safeguard U.S. interests.

Egypt Is Not Honduras

The imperialist bid to pacify popular uprisings by imposing token democracy, with controlled elections and civil institutions run by the U.S., is a strategy the U.S. imperialists and countries of the European Union and Canada have been attempting to enact in the Middle East for a number of years. This started with the Charter of Paris signed in 1991 which declared that every country had to have a free market economy, multiparty system and abide by so-called human rights. The U.S. in particular has been funding regime changes in the name of democracy to deal with the ever-rising discontent of the peoples over the havoc wreaked by the so-called free market economy and U.S. imperialism and American client states on their societies. The British have provided the so-called Civitas Project to corrupt the Palestinian Authority and sabotage the liberation movement of the Palestinian people. Canada is a partner in this project and is mandated to provide the so-called electoral and judicial arms for these so-called democracy building initiatives. In Egypt the reactionaries are hoping to use the strategy used to smash the people's 2009 uprising in Honduras, orchestrating a coup against the popular government of Manuel Zelaya and then using ambiguity to gain time so as to declare it legal and institute the coup regime. Yet Egypt, with a population of 81,527,172, compared to 7,318,789 in Honduras, and with 1,001,449 square km compared to Honduras' 112,090 square km is a completely different kettle of fish. Pulling off in Egypt what

Halifax, January 30, 2011: "Egyptian regime is an Egyptian matter not USA matter."
they did in Honduras will be much more difficult.

TML again salutes the revolutionary movement of the Egyptian people and the fearless unity of their ranks representing all sectors of the society. TML calls on the Canadian working class and its allies to go all out in support of the Egyptian people as events continue to unfold. A victory for the Egyptian people will transform the situation across the region, affirming the right to sovereignty for all, including the long suffering Palestinian people. A victory for the democratic aspirations of the Egyptian people is a victory for the peoples of the world in their striving to hold governments responsible for providing the human rights of all with a guarantee.

Long Live the Democratic, Sovereign Movement of the Egyptian People!
No to the Use of Military Force Against the People!
One Humanity, One Struggle!

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"Canada's Role in Egypt's Democratic Development" -- Emergency Debate in the House of Commons

The government of Canada is playing a particularly nefarious role in attempts to keep corrupt regimes in place in the name of democracy. This is very clear in relation to the unfolding events in Egypt. Prime Minister Harper stated he wants "a future that's not simply more democratic but where that democracy is guided by such values as non-violence, the rule of law, and respect for human rights, including the rights of religious minorities."

On February 2, 2011, the House of Commons held an emergency debate on the situation in Egypt. Speaker after speaker had good words for the courageous people of Egypt. Most importantly, at every turn the issue was raised that it is up to the Egyptian people to decide how they are governed and by whom. However it is easy to understand why the First Nations in the Americas concluded that the colonialists speak "with a forked tongue." Having stated that it is up to the Egyptians to decide, the discussion turns into one of establishing conditions that must be respected by any new Egyptian government. Canadian Parliamentarians also seem keen on making Egypt a case in point on how "democratic development" is a priority of Canada's foreign policy.

Having declared that "It is not up to us to decide who should govern tomorrow's Egypt," Minister of Foreign Affairs Lawrence Cannon goes on to set the agenda for the democratic future of Egypt:


Toronto, January 29, 2011

"A true democratic transition in Egypt will require institutional reforms. For example, it will require the establishment of a credible and non-partisan elections commission to run the elections, as we have here in Canada. Such an elections commission would oversee the preparations for an election, which should reflect international standards for transparency and integrity."

Perhaps what Cannon has in mind here is a commission such as the one Canada set up in Haiti by which 15 parties -- including the party of Jean Bertrand Aristide, Fanmi Lavalas -- were excluded from running.

Cannon goes on with his prescription:

"It would also be beneficial to set fixed terms for the president and vice-president. However, an election must not be confused with democracy."

No confusion here. Too many times elections have expressed a result the Anglo-American imperialists don't like -- as in the case of Venezuela, Gaza, Haiti, etc. As a result the latest talk about "democracy building" specifically says that stable government is the aim, not elections. Cannon continues:

"Although a fair and equitable election process is certainly essential to building a democracy, only a stable and honest government can ensure the sustainability of democratic principles. In order for us, here in Canada, to recognize and support the future Egyptian government, it must meet four basic conditions: first, it must respect freedom, democracy and human rights, particularly the rights of women; second, it must recognize the State of Israel ; third, it must adhere to existing peace treaties (treaties that are, as has been pointed out in TML, beneficial to the U.S. and Israel); and fourth, it must respect international law." On this last point, Cannon later reiterates, "The peace agreements already in existence must also be recognized by a new government. Indeed, that government needs to respect the international community's will."

He does not say what happens when the will of the "international community" of empire builders is contrary to the will of the vast majority of the Egyptian people.

Taken aback as the empire builders are at this time by the turn of events, not to speak of the inevitable turn history is taking, Bob Rae, Liberal critic for Foreign Affairs, states:

"If we now realize that governance is such a critical issue in this part of the world and indeed in other parts of the world, I wonder what the member would suggest we do as a country to ensure there are not just a series of one-offs as we respond to the Egypts and the Tunisias and the others that may arise, but that we have a more consistent approach to governance. Perhaps we should give the mandate to either CIDA or Foreign Affairs, but give it clearly to one of them and say that this is their responsibility to run with this."

Rae seems to be concerned that things could get out of hand, that is, that the people could give themselves a form of governance which would make them sovereign and not allow foreign interests to dictate their lives. He seems concerned that the mechanisms of interference and meddling in these countries are lacking, mechanisms whereby Canada could support, for example, "legitimate opposition parties." He therefore promotes the yet to be financed - or so the speakers claim -- Canadian Centre for the Advancement of Democracy, whose aim would be precisely to support the "appropriate" parties and meddle in the internal affairs of other countries in a more systematic and organized fashion. Rae expresses his concern in much the same way as Stockwell Day when he echoes the latter's "cautionary tale": "...we should go into these situations with our eyes open, with a sense of our own historical experience as he [Stockwell Day] has described it, the experience of appeasement, the experience of Iran, and we can go back further with the experience of other revolutions which have gone awry and have not worked to the benefit of the people."


Toronto, January 29, 2011

Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, reassures Rae by enumerating various programs in the field around the world "to support democratic development." He goes on to say, "I have many friends who have been involved in those projects through the support of other governments, such as the National Endowment for Democracy in the United States, the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute, the Westminster Foundation and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation." And reflecting a similar remark made several years ago by then Prime Minister Jean Chrétien about the role of Canada in the world, Kenney says, "I believe that in principle we are of one accord on this objective of a greater Canadian role in democratic development. We have a unique role to play because we do not carry the stigma that our friends to the south do in some parts of the world. We do not carry the post-colonial baggage that our European allies do. We have a unique role that we can play and ought to play."

What with Canada having been rejected for the Security Council, dare we say that the self-image is perhaps wearing a bit thin?

In conclusion, the "non-partisan" approach to such discussions, especially of an international nature, means that within Parliament, no one is standing up for a principled position of support for the Egyptian and world's people as they oppose all interference in their internal affairs. This "non-partisanship" is precisely one of the basic flaws of what is called Canada's democratic system whereby in the name of stability the "legal will" of the few (read "monopoly right") is being imposed on the popular will (read "public right").

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Role of the Military Fully Exposed


Young Egyptian women openly defy heavy military presence sent to intimidate protestors.

Though much effort has been expended to make the army appear neutral, this attempt has also unraveled in the past week. TML pointed out on February 7, "It must be stated unequivocally that the Egyptian military is a pawn of the Anglo-Zionist agenda in Egypt and that there has been an intentional policy of creating doubt about this simple fact." TML also pointed out, "The role of the army will become increasingly obvious for all to see as the time for Mubarak's inevitable departure nears."

Unfolding events have proven this prediction true. While early on, the army did not attack the protestors, as of February 4 their discourse shifted, with military spokespersons addressing the protestors in Cairo and demanding they leave. Soon after, on February 6, the army made a move to force the protestors in Cairo to end their siege of the governmental buildings and to open the roads. This attempt failed as protestors formed human chains to surround the tanks and military personnel, forcing them to back down. There is still a serious danger that the military may unleash all-out violence against the people when they do not accept the military assuming the powers of state. If this is the case, there is little hope left for the U.S. dream of containing the situation. The army is seen as an arm of the U.S., and already the people's hatred of the crimes committed by the U.S. and Israeli Zionists is a main cause of the uprising.

In related news, the Times of London on February 10 reported that "Saudi Arabia threatened to prop up embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak if the Obama administration tries to force a swift change of regime in Egypt."

It reports "a testy personal telephone call" on January 29, in which Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah reportedly told President Obama "not to humiliate Mubarak and warned that he would step in to bankroll Egypt if the U.S. withdrew its aid program, worth $1.5 billion annually."

King Abdullah made it clear that Mubarak "must be allowed to stay on to oversee the transition towards peaceful democracy and then leave with dignity."

"Mubarak and King Abdullah are not just allies, they are close friends, and the King is not about to see his friend cast aside and humiliated," a senior source in the Saudi capital told The Times.

Two sources confirmed details of the King's call, made four days after the people of Egypt took to the streets.

"The revelation of Saudi concerns sheds new light on America's apparent diplomatic paralysis and lays bare the biggest rift between the nations since the oil price shock of 1973," Fox News writes. "The tough line from Riyadh is driven by concern that Western governments were too eager to shove aside Mubarak when the uprising began, without proper consideration of what should follow him."

"With Egypt in chaos, the kingdom is Washington's only major ally left in the Arab world and the Saudis want the Americans to remember that," said a source in Riyadh.

"The White House declined to comment on the reports saying that the administration did not divulge what other leaders said to Obama. However, it later said that Obama had discussed Egypt during a phone call with King Abdullah on Wednesday, saying the U.S. leader stressed the need for a meaningful and lasting political transition.

The news came as testimony gathered by the Guardian newspaper claimed that the Egyptian military, despite maintaining an appearance of neutrality in the ongoing crisis, had secretly detained hundreds and possibly thousands of suspected government opponents since mass protests began weeks ago. The Egyptian military has been accused of being involved in both the disappearance and torture of Egyptian citizens, including the use of electric shocks.

Hossam Bahgat, director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights in Cairo, said hundreds, and possibly thousands, of ordinary people had "disappeared" into military custody across the country. Many were still missing.

"Their range is very wide, from people who were at the protests or detained for breaking curfew to those who talked back at an army officer or were handed over to the army for looking suspicious or for looking like foreigners even if they were not," he said.

"It's unusual and to the best of our knowledge it's also unprecedented for the army to be doing this."

It is reported that Obama's most senior national security aides also met with Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Wednesday to discuss the situation in Egypt.

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Significant Developments in the Current Uprising

January 25: Current uprising gets underway. Tens of thousands of protestors rallied in Cairo and in many major Egyptian cities to support the Tunisian revolution and demand economic reforms. Those demonstrations were as usual ruthlessly crushed by police forces and in some cities (e.g. Suez) police forces opened fire on protestors, killing and wounding dozens.

January 26 to 28: As a response to the regime's violent repression, hundreds of thousands of Egyptians started flooding the streets of Cairo as well as all major cities in Egypt in massive protests demanding the resignation of Mubarak and his entire regime. The protests on Friday, January 28 -- known popularly as the "Friday of Rage" -- were the biggest protests in Egypt since 1919 when more than 2 million protestors swarmed the streets of Cairo, in addition to more than 4 million protestors in other cities such as Alexandria and Suez. The Egyptian regime retaliates by withdrawing all police forces from the streets and then releasing criminals from prisons to terrorize the protestors. After failing to destroy the protests, Mubarak vows to leave office after the September elections. He also changed the government and all the Ministers, appointing Omar Suleiman to the new position of Vice-President.

January 29 to February 1: Millions of protestors kept to the streets and the regime responded by deploying army units and combat tank divisions inside Cairo along with an excessive presence of military aircraft overhead. This is the first time military planes have been seen in the skies over Cairo since 1967. On February 1, U.S. intervention is stepped up with the arrival of the U.S. President's Special Envoy Frank Wisner to the country.


Tahrir Square, January 30, 2011

February 2 to 3: The regime unleashed thousands of armed gangs and militias to terrorize protestors and drive them out of the streets. In a matter of minutes, downtown Cairo was turned into a war zone as the regime's militias (many armed and on camels or horses) unleashed wave after wave of attacks against the unarmed protestors within sight of the army. The military never intervened to defend the protestors. After a couple of days of such chaos in the streets of Cairo and other major cities in Egypt, the gangs were pulled off the streets as they failed in their mission to incite the protestors to retaliate violently. The international community condemned the regime's actions, which led to the death of hundreds, and the disappearance or injury of thousands.

February 4 to 5: The Egyptian people retaliated against the regime's violent repression by holding on to Tahrir Square (Arabic for "Liberation") in downtown Cairo for the 12th day in a row. On February 5 they rallied more than 2.5 million peaceful protestors in Cairo. In total, more than 5 million people rallied all over the country.

February 6: The Egyptian people continued their demonstrations in Cairo along with other cities. The regime's continued attempts to contain the demonstrations were marked by their decision to change all the figureheads and well-known personalities of the ruling party, after already changing the government and assigning a new Vice-President. Also this day marked the start of another government strategy that included initiating negotiations with opposition parties, which supposedly represent the millions of protestors. The government's aim in the "dialogue" is to show the outside world that the regime is negotiating with the protestors. What the news media call the main opposition parties represent less than 10 per cent of the population. Combined Christian-Muslim ceremonies took place to hounour all the martyrs killed by the regime since the protests started. It is reported that more than 500 have been killed. On this day too, the protestors stood up to an army plan that included entering Liberation Square with tanks in an attempt to divide protestors and isolate groups in a bid to re-open the roads. They were especially trying to lift the protestors' siege of the many governmental buildings in and beside the Square. The plan failed when the protestors formed human chains around all the tanks in the square and prevented them from moving.

February 7: This day marked the official full-scale revolt of the Christian population in Egypt when some Christian spiritual leaders issued a statement supporting the regime and denouncing the protests. The Muslim spiritual leadership in Al-Azhar also supported Mubarak and denounced the protests. On this day, millions of youth officially announced that they do not agree with the negotiations between some parties and the government. Mubarak, after four days of being incommunicado, appeared on TV running two government meetings in order to prove to the protestors and the rest of the world that he is still in control.

Suleiman announced a slew of constitutional reforms, to be undertaken by as yet to be formed committees. Suleiman said that one committee would carry out constitutional and legislative amendments to enable a shift of power while a separate committee will be set up to monitor the implementation of all proposed reforms. The two committees will start working immediately, he said. Suleiman stressed that demonstrators will not be prosecuted and that a separate independent fact-finding committee would be established to probe the violence on February 2.

February 8: Day sixteen of the rallies in Tahir Square. Mubarak's newly appointed Vice President Omar Suleiman, told a news conference that his government "can't put up with continued protests" for a long time, the state news agency MENA reported. The crisis must be ended as soon as possible, he said. There will be "no ending of the regime" and no immediate departure for President Hosni Mubarak, he said. Suleiman reportedly told the editors of the newspapers that the regime wants "dialogue to resolve protesters' demands for democratic reform." In a thinly veiled threat, he added that the government doesn't "want to deal with Egyptian society with police tools."

Al-Jazeera reports that at one point in the roundtable meeting, Suleiman warned that the alternative to dialogue "is that a coup happens, which would mean uncalculated and hasty steps, including lots of irrationalities. We don't want to reach that point, to protect Egypt."

Pressed by the editors to explain the comment, he said he did not mean a military coup but that "a force that is unprepared for rule" could overturn state institutions, Amr Khafagi, editor-in-chief of the privately-owned Al-Shorouk Daily, who attended the briefing, said. "He doesn't mean it in the classical way," he said. "The presence of the protesters in Tahrir Square and some satellite stations insulting Egypt and belittling it makes citizens hesitant to go to work," he said.

Suleiman is said to have warned that calls by some protesters for a campaign of civil disobedience are "very dangerous for society and we can't put up with this at all."

Millions of protestors responded to Mubarak's TV appearances by amassing one of the largest demonstrations in Cairo since the beginning of the events. They surrounded all the government buildings, including the headquarters of the government, forcing the Prime Minister to relocate to the Ministry of Civil Aviation building. This day also marked the expulsion of the Minister of Media from the ministry building by his own employees after Egyptian TV ran an interview with him denouncing the protestors.

But the most significant event of this day was the deadline that the protestors gave Mubarak and his regime to step down: the revolution's youth leadership declared that if Mubarak and his regime do not step down from power by Friday, February 11, then the millions of people gathered in Cairo are going to mobilize toward the presidential palace. This palace is located in the richest part of Cairo which is closed off and protected by the military. The protestors declared their intent to arrest the President and put him on trial for all the crimes he and his regime have committed in the last 30 years. Their communiqué of the day declared this to be their last warning. This stand is significant as it signaled the failure of the government's strategy to wipe out the movement by first trying to drain the energy of the protestors by leaving them protesting and not paying them any attention while the regime continued business as usual and then tried to redirect the aim of the protests and contain them by declaring that negotiation with certain opposition parties would resolve the issue. Any illusion mongering of the government that the regime is negotiating with protestors was smashed by the refusal of the protestors to end their actions and leave the streets due to the "negotiations." Hence, the communiqué which issued the last warning refocused the aim of the revolution to its initial goal that Mubarak and his regime must step down before any negotiations take place. Hence, two weeks of trying to divert the movement from this goal failed. With the unions calling a general strike to join the protests on this day, and an increasing number of Egyptian expatriates to swell the ranks of the protests, it became clear that far from a dwindling movement exhausted by the ongoing protests, the movement has grown in numbers, breadth and tenacity.

February 10: In Cairo on the morning of Thursday, February 10, day eighteen of the revolution, the Egyptian military commandeered Egyptian state television and broadcast a so-called Communiqué No. 1 complete with pictures of the meeting of the State Military Council without President Hosni Mubarak in the chair and without the presence of his vice-president Gen. Omar Suleiman. The main content of the communiqué was a reassurance that the military will not interfere with lawful protests, full stop, an unconditional promise. The convening of the State Military Council was declared to be ongoing/continuous until further notice, an unprecedented development in itself. The significance of this Council meeting is that, it had only previously met at the time of the June 1967 war with Israel and at the time of the October 1973 war with Israel in which Egypt reversed the Israeli gains and ended the Israeli military occupation of the Sinai Peninsula that had been in place since the June 1967 war. Furthermore it had on both those occasions been summoned under the Egyptian president's command and authority, with the President [then Col. Anwar Sadat] in the Chair. So the convening of the council AND absence of Mubarak from the chair and of Suleiman from the gathering seemed to confirm the appearance of a coup by elements of the military that want Mubarak and Suleiman gone.

The U.S. was silent and Israel suddenly zipped its lips after issuing dire warnings each of the previous three days.

In the afternoon, as speculation grew that Mubarak would be giving a resignation speech in the evening, an oddly out-of-tune report appeared that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was ready to make up the entire U.S. subsidy to the Egyptian military (which currently runs at about US$1.3-billion per year).

Meanwhile, Mubarak spoke with arrogant confidence about three hours later, amid ongoing dead silence from the Obama and Netanyahu administrations, that he was staying and only temporarily delegating certain limited presidential powers to Suleiman (who was widely speculated hours previously as being a major target of the military people that had issued Communiqué No. 1). Of course, this arrogant declaration was proven wrong, as Mubarak was forced to resign as of today.

So it appears the coup in the morning was followed by a semi-counter-coup in the evening in which the previously-dissident sections of the military were reassured that their foreign subsidies would remain intact, thanks to the House of Saud stepping in to top up whatever the U.S. treasury might still be paying out. All this got the U.S. off the hook at the same time that it enabled Mubarak to rule another day and kept the Israelis happy that their man in Cairo, Omar Suleiman, was still in place.

The struggle will certainly continue, as the workers are stirring and today's demonstrations are massive in the wake of the outrage over Mubarak's and Suleiman's arrogant and contemptible dismissal of any and every one of the serious demands of the democratic movement. The possibility of a bloodbath during today's demonstrations remained palpable but one of the most interesting facts about the mass participation in these Egyptian events is that it is now in the same range of the mass demonstrations between the March and October revolutions in Russia in 1917 and the mass demonstrations of the last 3-4 months of the popular movement in Iran that drove out the Shah of Iran.

February 11: Farewell Friday's announcement that Mubarak had stepped down and handed over the reins of power to the military unleashed an explosion of emotion from a people braced to expect the worst from the military in response to their push towards the presidential palace, following the statement by Mubarak the night before that he would not step aside. No sooner the wave of emotion settled, people immediately expressed their determination to push forward for the realization of their aims.

A statement read out on state television at midday on Friday by the military was not well received. It announced that the military would lift a 30-year-old emergency law but only "as soon as the current circumstances end." It said the military would also guarantee changes to the constitution as well as a free and fair election, and it called for normal business activity to resume.

But far from convincing people to go home, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Tahrir Square said people there were hugely disappointed with that army statement, and vowed to take the protests to "a last and final stage." "They're frustrated, they're angry, and they say protests need to go beyond Liberation [Tahrir] Square, to the doorstep of political institutions," she said.

The Agence France Presse correspondent in Tahrir Square said the "masses of pro-democracy campaigners" appeared to have a clear and even more determined resolve to achieve their goals than ever before.


Tahrir Square, February 11, 2011 (RIA Novosti)

Organizers had called for 20 million people to come out on "Farewell Friday" in a final attempt to force Mubarak to step down. Reports indicate that masses of people turned out, around the Presidential Palace and in Tahrir Square and people poured into Cairo from the outskirts headed to the square. Huge protests were also reported in Alexandria, the country's second biggest city, as well as in the cities of Mansoura, Mahala, Tanta, Ismailia and Suez, with thousands in attendance. In the north Sinai town of el-Arish, at least one person was killed and some 20 wounded when police attacked protestors outside the police station.

According to sources who spoke to Al-Jazeera, Mubarak left Cairo for the Red Sea resort of Sharm al-Shaikh. Meanwhile, the Anglo-American media expressed the hope that the protestors will hand over the fate of their movement to the army. They do not seem to think it is far fetched to believe that those who are opposing 30 years of military rule will now hand over their fate to the military.

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