From Ed Morrissey at Hot Air:
The Mubarak regime has begun to act more forcefully to shore up its power after days of protests pushed it to the brink of collapse. Security forces have begun arresting and intimidating bloggers, journalists, and human rights activists in an attempt to reimpose order in the wake of street fighting:
An informal center set up by human rights workers in the square was seized, and a group of journalists was stopped in their car near the square by a gang of men with knives and briefly turned over to the military police, ostensibly for their protection. Two reporters working for The New York Times were released on Thursday after being detained overnight in Cairo.
Two Washington Post staffers were among two dozen journalists detained by the Interior Ministry Thursday morning, the paper reported.
The concerted effort to remove journalists lent a sense of foreboding to events in the square, where battles continued between the protesters and the Mubarak supporters, who human rights workers and protesters say are being paid and organized by the government. People bringing food, water and medicine to the protesters in the square were being stopped by Mubarak supporters, who confiscated what they had and threw some of it into the Nile.
Foreboding is right. The regime apparently feels a little more sanguine about their ability to control events on the streets. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have directed their efforts at international journalists who have been waiting for precisely this development. Three days ago, Mubarak didn’t dare try it.
UPDATE: FOUND IT! Hooboy. In all of my reading yesterday I read this analysis:
While much of American media has termed the events unfolding in Egypt today as “clashes between pro-government and opposition groups,” this is not in fact what’s happening on the street. The so-called “pro-government” forces are actually Mubarak’s cleverly orchestrated goon squads dressed up as pro-Mubarak demonstrators to attack the protesters in Midan Tahrir, with the Army appearing to be a neutral force. The opposition, largely cognizant of the dirty game being played against it, nevertheless has had little choice but to call for protection against the regime’s thugs by the regime itself, i.e., the military. And so Mubarak begins to show us just how clever and experienced he truly is. The game is, thus, more or less over.
The threat to the military’s control of the Egyptian political system is passing. Millions of demonstrators in the street have not broken the chain of command over which President Mubarak presides. Paradoxically the popular uprising has even ensured that the presidential succession will not only be engineered by the military, but that an officer will succeed Mubarak. The only possible civilian candidate, Gamal Mubarak, has been chased into exile, thereby clearing the path for the new vice president, Gen. Omar Suleiman. The military high command, which under no circumstances would submit to rule by civilians rooted in a representative system, can now breathe much more easily than a few days ago. It can neutralize any further political pressure from below by organizing Hosni Mubarak’s exile, but that may well be unnecessary.
The president and the military, have, in sum, outsmarted the opposition and, for that matter, the Obama administration. They skillfully retained the acceptability and even popularity of the Army, while instilling widespread fear and anxiety in the population and an accompanying longing for a return to normalcy.
Fascinating. I used to argue that the West could not really do anything effectively in the Middle East without learning the language of faith, but now I wonder if the Democratic West, and particularly Americans, are ill-equipped to deal with dictatorships and the way their minds work, simply because we’re accustomed to thinking in terms of limits and peaceful transitions of power – we don’t know how to think in terms of holding on to power, at all costs.
But maybe this latest explains why this post is suddenly getting a lot of overseas traffic.
Meanwhile the Muslim Brotherhood want an end to Egypt’s “cold peace” with Israel
I’m feeling called to pray. For the whole world.