Friday, 28 January 2011

Days of rage [UPDATE]

Egypt is not Tunisia, said many knowledgeable persons when facile parallels began to be suggested about the upheavals of recent days in the two countries. At first, I agreed with the skepticism, but two things suggest that the original theory of revolutionary dominoes may be closer to the mark.

This is from The Independent (London) of today:

In one of many astonishing scenes earlier, thousands of anti-government protesters wielding rocks, glass and sticks chased hundreds of riot police away from the main square in central Cairo, and several of the policemen stripped off their uniforms and badges and joined the demonstrators.

If those scenes become common, Mubarak is finished.

Meanwhile, the Cairo stock market is down 16% in two days. All these are signs of a remarkably fragile regime with few ideas of how to shut off the unrest. While blocking Twitter and cellphone service may complicate the protest movement, it also could simply speed things up and force people into more effective organizing routes. And while crashing the Internet and phone service helps the repressive forces, it also prevents any work from getting done in the entire country, which means that time is on the side of the people if they can maintain the disruptions.

[update] Robert Gibbs is now (3.00 pm Friday) refusing to say that the U.S. supports Mubarak’s permanence in power. Contrast this cutting-loose of Mubarak with Carter’s bitter-end backing of the Shah of Iran.

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