Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Rage Boy Surfaces Egyptian-Style As Obama Stirs The Pot


Today saw new protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square and elsewhere, the heaviest they have been in about a week.The protesters have a new strategy to avoid 'protest fatigue' - Tuesdays and Fridays are now the officially designated days of rage, which enables the protesters to rest in between, and get revved up fromthe Friday mosque sermons. Unlike last week, there was no violence.Human Rights Watch claimed they had confirmed more than 300 fatalities during the protests but that's Human Rights Watch and as you know if you've followed their other reporting on the Middle East they tend to be somewhat,umm, factually challenged, shall we say.

The government itself seems to be confident and digging its heels in when it comes to both the protesters and the Obama Administration's demands, which tells me that a deal is very likely in place for a new power structure with the Muslim Brotherhood's blessing.

In its umpteenth change of message to date on Egypt, the Obama Administration insisted now on 'a quicker transition to democracy' and an end to Egypt's 30 year State of Emergency, which has proven useful to the Mubarak government over the years in getting rid of troublesome people.

Vice President and former Intelligence chief Omar Suleiman responded on Egyptian state television that President Mubarak had appointed a committee of judges and lawyers to work on amending what passes for Egypt's constitution. According to Suleiman, this committee has put Egypt “on the path of peaceful and orderly transition of power.”

And as far as repealing the State of Emergency, Suleiman said only that Egypt will remove the emergency law "when the situation justifies its repeal."

Suleiman also had a few more words for both President Obama and the protesters. Rather than speeding up the transition, Suleiman said the talks and negotiations on the transition would continue as long a s necessary and that the only alternative to talks is a “a coup.”

“And we want to avoid that — meaning uncalculated and hasty steps that produce more irrationality,” he said, according to the official State news agency.

“There will be no ending of the regime, nor a coup, because that means chaos,” Mr. Suleiman said. And he warned the protesters not to attempt more civil disobedience, calling it “extremely dangerous.” He added, “We absolutely do not tolerate it.”

Again, if Suleiman is talking tough in this fashion, I think his earlier meetings with the Muslim Brotherhood were fruitful and a deal has been struck.

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