Wednesday, June 6, 2012 at 5:11 AM

Protesters Return to Egypt’s Tahrir Square

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

The following excerpts from two of the many commentaries I’ve written on the Egyptian revolution should explain what is unfolding there now.

The first is from Army Pledges No Force Against Protesters, The iPINIONS Journal, February 1, 2011:

With all due respect to the protesters, the issue is not whether Mubarak will go, for he will. (The man is 82 and already looks half dead for Christ’s sake!) Rather, the issue is who will replace him. And it appears they have not given any thought whatsoever to this very critical question…

The devil the Egyptians know might prove far preferable to the devil they don’t. Just ask the Iranians who got rid of the Mubarak-like Shah in 1979 only to end up with the Ayatollah Khomeini — whose Islamic revolution they’ve regretted (and have longed to overturn) ever since….

The second is from Egyptian Revolution Part II, The iPINIONS Journal, July 14, 2011:

It seems the only thing that will satisfy these protesters — who clearly have no ability to lead Egypt’s transition and have no faith in the ability of anyone else to do so — is replicating throughout the entire country the festive state of anarchy that reigns among them in Tahrir Square [i.e., never-ending revolution].

Beyond this my commentaries will attest that, instead of demanding Mubarak’s immediate ouster, I entreated pro-democracy protesters to plead for a U.S. guaranty that Mubarak would honor his promise to oversee an orderly and timely transition to a secular, democratic government. They clearly did not take heed.

This is why I am not at all surprised that these quixotic protesters are now back in Tahrir Square venting their spleens about their revolution being betrayed by a conspiracy between Mubarak loyalists and the Muslim Brotherhood.

They are doing so because, despite their favored candidates participating in the first round of the presidential election they demanded, Egyptian authorities announced last week that only a Mubarak crony and one fielded by the Muslim Brotherhood survived for the runoff scheduled for June 16-17.

Neither [Ahmed] Shafiq (right)  nor [Mohamed] Morsi are any good. They have to pull out of the presidential race. One is from the former regime, and one has no political experience and has a group’s Islamist agenda.

(Protester Arafa Mohamed, 21, as quoted by Al Jazeera, June 5, 2012)

In fact, the results of this first round only added insult to the injury their national aspirations suffered when the Muslim Brotherhood won control of parliament after several rounds of elections earlier this year. Not least because Morsi, a political prisoner during Mubarak’s rule, has gone out of his way to endorse the Brotherhood’s “renaissance project,” which codifies their mutual “dream of implementing Sharia” and doing for/to Egypt what the Islamic revolution did for/to Iran.

The non-Islamists allowed themselves to be drawn into the saga of the never-ending revolution… Non-Islamist politicians and parties were forced to follow the mob’s mood no matter how irrational or self-destructive it was. Instead of offering leadership to ‘the street,’ they chased its whims, leaving the Islamists as the only rational actor in the eyes of voters who were fed up with the idea of permanent revolution and anxious for functioning government.

(World Affairs, March/April 2012)

Mind you, these protesters are so vested in the saga of “never-ending revolution” that the vast majority of them never even bothered to vote. For, despite this being their first opportunity to participate in a truly democratic presidential election, Bloomberg Businessweek reported on May 29 that voter turnout was only 46 percent. Yet their self-righteousness and arrogance are such that they blame others for their failure to elect a more acceptable, liberal candidate.

But where the May 28 results of the presidential election only incited a few protesters to return to Tahrir Square, the June 2 verdicts in the trial of the Mubaraks incited droves.

That Mubarak and his two sons were all placed behind bars in a courtroom cage only added to the humiliation of their fall from … power. They face a battery of corruption charges. But far more ominous are the charges related to the killing of over 900 of the pro-democracy protesters who precipitated their downfall. Indeed, whatever drama unfolds over the course of this trial, there seems little doubt that they will all be convicted and sentenced to death.

(“Mubarak on trial,” The iPINIONS Journal Vol. VII, p. 63)

Well, far from sentencing them to death, the court convicted and sentenced Mubarak to life in prison; but it acquitted his sons.

It would be an understatement to say that pro-democracy protesters greeted these verdicts with jeers. After all, they expected summary executions for Mubarak and his two sons.

What’s more, given that they were already simmering with resentment because scores of security police from the dreaded Interior Ministry were never even arrested, it’s hardly surprising that they were protesting in the streets within hours after the court announced these verdicts. Which is why Tahrir Square looks today just as it did at the height of the protests against Mubarak over a year ago.

But the irony seems completely lost on these protesters that they are protesting verdicts from purportedly democratic court proceedings as if they were dictated by Mubarak himself. Never mind that the judges who handed them down were probably all, in some way, beholding to Mubarak (more on this below).

Meanwhile, perhaps to show that he actually received a de facto death sentence, Reuters reported that:

Deposed Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak suffered ‘a health crisis’ on Saturday upon arrival at prison after he was sentenced to life in prison over the killing of protesters in the uprising against his rule.

Of course, I suspect that having him wheeled into court on his hospital bed every day during trial and this reported health crisis now are all part of a charade orchestrated by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces – the military generals who still (and will continue to) rule Egypt – to exaggerate Mubarak’s downfall and suffering. Furthermore, I suspect that he agreed to play along because he was assured not only that his sons would be acquitted, but that they would be able to keep millions in ill-gotten gains to live a very comfortable life in exile (no matter what additional show trials they must endure in the short term).

Not to mention that the “prison” where Mubarak has been (and will continue) living out his last days would probably make the retirement home of any multimillionaire seem like a humble shack.

In any event, pro-democracy protesters are reacting as if last week’s election results and trial verdicts constituted a greater offense to their notions of democracy than Mubarak’s 30-year dictatorship. Accordingly, all indications are that they are amassing to mount their Egyptian Revolution Part III.

And so it goes….

Related commentaries:
Army pledges no force
Egyptian revolution
Military bigger devil than Mubarak
Liberated Egypt Thumbing nose at U.S.

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