Friday, July 1, 2011

Egypt: Between Al-Gamal’s Slip Of The Tongue And The Marshal’s Warning

By Zuheir Kseibati
The bloody clashes that took place on Tahrir Square and in Balloon Theater in Cairo and turned the night of the Egyptian capital into a volcano of anger - which caused the wounding of around 600 people within hours - were not a new test for the ability of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to protect the January 25 revolution. Moreover, some in Egypt are not hesitating to recognize that what happened on the square and in the theater was a mere sample of the magma of hatred and spite which exited the crater of oppression and injustice following decades of silence.
During Hosni Mubarak’s days, the opposition was blamed for its decay and weakness. Today, it is blamed as the ally of the victor, for being preoccupied with the settlement of partisan scores without paying any attention to the priority of protecting the revolution. This protection will certainly not be achieved by allowing the remaining “thugs” of the former regime to hide behind the disgruntled over the “slowness” of reform and the reluctance to stage quick trials for the symbols of this regime, but also behind those angry with the police which has started to tremble before them and flee Tahrir Square and Balloon Theater. In the meantime, the scene of the incidents is besieging the army with pressures, at the head of which is Commander of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi.
Yesterday at dawn, the fire of anger was burning the properties of the state and the citizens, at a time when an American citizen donated $100,000 for the protection of “Egyptian cultural heritage.” For its part, the Council responded to the incident witnessed at the theater - which was attacked during a celebration in honor of the families of the martyrs of the revolution - by accusing once again that “organized plan to create division between the revolutionaries and the security establishment.”
It is thus the “conspiracy,” only a few days after what was described as being “Al-Gamal’s slip of the tongue” - when Egyptian Deputy Prime Minister Yahya al-Gamal accused Israel and America of weaving the strings of conspiracy to trigger sectarian tensions and clashes between the Muslims and Copts in Egypt. Was it a mere slip of the tongue or an attempt to flee forward to resist the “conspiracy” by seeking those provoking it?
Six hundred people were wounded during the hours of anger! However, this did not prevent the Field Marshal from encouraging the non-postponement of the “summit” match between Al-Zamalek and Al-Ahly, because the people did not wish to see it toppled. As for the Marshal himself, he was not spared from the slogans on the square, following the accusations made to the Military Council of having allied with the Muslim Brotherhood group to pave the way before its victory in the parliamentary elections.
A few days prior to crowded demonstrations – almost including a million people – on July 8 to condemn the delay affecting the trials and the reform, and a few days prior to the commemoration of the July 23 revolution, the police was not the only one besieged by rage. Indeed, this was also the case of the Military Council which is believed to be mixing caution with slow steps to please the street without leading Egypt toward chaos. Some of those who are distant from the mind of “rage” summarize the scene of the revolution based on a three-faceted equation:
 - A government besieged with multiple “blackmail” attempts amid mounting political polarization.
- An inability to answer the question: Who can achieve the security of the state? At a time when the police is terrified of retaliation after it remained – for dozens of years – the primary guarantor for the silence on the street.
- An unrestrained media freedom used to escalate the campaigns against the government of the revolution and “open the retaliatory appetite” of the citizens.
 And in light of the existing poverty - for the handling of which no revolution has a magic wand - retaliation is quickly turning into a collective wish to carry out sabotage and destruction. At the level of the snake of corruption, it has become clear that the severance of its head did not restore the wasted billions to the Egyptian Treasury, and will neither build factories nor provide job opportunities to the millions of poor.
All Egyptians know that those benefitting from corruption are armies that keep changing their flags. However, what is realized by only a few is that the revolution of the poor and the youth cannot survive on the mere production of slogans on the square.
The January 25 revolution is now facing the predicament of cleansing reform from retaliation, whose shapes are varying between “class,” political and sectarian reprisal. If this situation were to escalate, it would lead all the sides toward the “conspiracy” of collective suicide.
This suicide would definitely destroy all that is Egypt with the eradication and elimination of all that existed prior to January 25, 2011.
This is not a call to write off the history of the people’s discounting, but what happened on Tahrir Square in Balloon Theater cannot be explained by the “conspiracy” theory and will not be a convincing pretext for the hastening of the “cleansing” through retaliatory sanctions.
This commentary was published in al-Hayat on 30/06/2011

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