Egypts Army has Chosen? – UPDATED

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.

Writes Ed:

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.

Yet, anyway!

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.

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  • Lisa Graas

    I seriously disagree with this analysis. This is what’s coming if the military does not maintain power. Conservatives by and large agree that the protests on the street are not pro-democracy as much as they are economically-motivated. Listen to Ambassador John Bolton.

  • Pen1thoughts2

    Interview with an Egyptian from Egypt who’s in the middle of it

  • David Roth

    Off topic:

    Why do I keep getting week-old posts in my RSS feed? My RSS was set up when you were on First Things; are you double Posting?

    Thanks. Dave Roth

  • David Roth

    I would be inclined to believe Bolton’s analysis of global events.

  • SKay

    From the Israel News—

    Obama Stands by Muslim Brotherhood Endorsement

    by Hillel Fendel
    Follow Israel news on and .

    For the first time, a U.S. government supports granting a government role to an extremist Islamic organization: the Muslim Brotherhood in

    On Monday, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Egypt’s new government will have to include a “whole host of important non-secular actors.” Most prominent among these is clearly the Muslim Brotherhood – which has made Islamic world domination one of its ultimate goals. It also opposes Egypt’s 30-year-old peace treaty with Israel.

    The Brotherhood is not a friend of the United States but it looks like they have a friend in the White House.

  • Joseph Marshall

    “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.”

    On the whole, we’ve managed to deal with them with reasonable success since 1930. Dictatorships are dictatorships. They are no new thing. We’ve smashed a few by force, made the devil’s bargain with others. Over the long haul, the most successful approach has been to wait them out unless they directly attack us. It takes patience. We waited out the Soviet Union for 70 years, but won in the end. We waited out Spain, too. And if we did not wait out Nazi Germany and Japan, we should remember that, but for some good luck [ie no aircraft carriers in Pearl Harbor and the capacity of the Russians to endure one out of four deaths in their army] and a few fateful decisions which the dictators made in 1942, we might not have won that war.

    Since the beginning of this century we have taken a more trigger-happy approach, which has had [to say the least] mixed results. The mere fact that we do not like it when people are oppressed, doesn’t mean that we have the power available to unilaterally change it, or, even if we do, have the capacity to impose both freedom and order after we sweep the dictator away. In the couple of cases where we succeeded, we had to kill millions of people and reduce the entire country to rubble, first.

    I don’t know precisely what Ed means by “outsmarted the Obama administration”. There is an armchair vantage point from which events that degenerate into chaos can be manipulated to our advantage as if they were a chess game. It often goes along with the habit of thinking that we should fix everything in the world by force. The better course is to always remember that wisdom should reckon on the unforseen, and that even if the reach is long, it can still exceed the grasp.

    The odds always favor the dictator over the public, unless the rule has been so inept that the military infrastructure disintegrates. This is a shame, but that’s life.

    As for Egypt, under any conditions, renewing a “hot war” with Israel, the odds on that are very, very long.

  • Anonymous

    On the plus side, if the military is siding with Mubarak, then they are not so infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood as previously feared. So if they could yet be swung (as they say, win the colonels, not the generals), then the prospects for a new government not controlled by Islamists is much greater.

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  • zmama

    “Yet, anyway!”

    So much in those two words. I have had a sense of foreboding for some time that we may one day face something like this in our own country. I pray we don’t but I sense it nonetheless.

    In the meantime I keep finding myself drawn to pray the Divine Mercy chaplet… have mercy on us Lord and on the whole world.

  • Bobdevine

    The western world will wring its hands and whine about all the things happening in Egypt and it will not mean squat in the final analysis.

    Egypt is a muslim or if you want Islamic country and it is not about to change no matter who ends up being in power. After all is said and done they will still be an Islamic Muslim country that hates anything and everything western or democratic. They will have a leader that is either more cruel or less cruel than Mubarak but they will still be against us, except for when they can con us into giving them something. Islam through its directions in the Quran and Sharia Law do not allow democracy or freedom and the people of Egypt do not want democracy or freedom they believe in the Quran. They just want someone different to oppress them.

  • Robert C

    Here is a very interesting perspective on the whole situation from within Egypt.

  • Greta

    In the end they are Islamist and with the rise of the clerics who are more angry and militant toward the west, we will see a continued rise in the anger of the people in these countries, especially when everything in their life is tied back to the mosque. When faith has such strong power, it can be used for good or evil. If the clerics were preaching the message of Christ and not Mohammed, we would not have terrorism on the rise everywhere in Muslim countries.

  • Jtd7

    I am glad that your post about Muslims protecting Coptic Christians in Egypt is getting attention. Christians in Tahrir have been protecting Muslims at prayer, too:

  • jb

    Said this this morning about the whole mess.

    And I believe someone is owning up to things in his last days. Perhaps the idea of redemption is dawning.

    This was genuine, and America, still enmeshed within a cold war mentality, did not know how to react. I am no fan of Obama (nor was I a fan of Bush), but none of us, nor Israel, nor the Brits, saw this coming. A genuine non-muslim cri de coeur, and all the “freedom loving nations” missed it as usual.

    Do not worry about the “Muslim Brotherhood.” They were late showing up, and the Islamic Egyptians guarding the Copts after the attack there should tell even the most jaded western cold warrior that things have changed.

    It changed in Iran, too, and the western mentality was still trying to figure out if Dwight D. was Smedley Butler or Smedley, Dwight D. American exceptionalism disappeared after VJ Day, and every one of our “wars” (perpetual anymore!) are living proof.

    We had a chance last week, as we did in Iran (to undo our total screw-up in 1953), and yet again, our military mindset (shades of Cairo?) proved the strongest of the weak.

    Pray, yes. Always. Pray that America rediscover what it once said it was–even moreso.

    Kyrie eleīson

  • jb


    You have a very simplistic view of the world. You would be most at home at Gateway Pundit, where such things as you have said are perfectly fine, but anyone with a contrary opinion, even to a minute degree, is banned before published by Hoft.

    Sounds like Mubarak and his ilk. Be that as it may, perhaps you should study fully the whole matter of Egypt, and how they, like Iran, got screwed royally by the Dulles brothers and the Old Warrior.

    Put yourself in their shoes, religious or not, and ask yourself if those men had the right to arbitrarily eliminate your freedom without your permission.

    You would scream bloody murder if anyone tried to do that in America, but what the hey, we’re just talking about some third-world nation that IS a third world nation because of our nation, but why should that interrupt your tirade against people about which you have no clue?


  • TerryeC51

    I think it would be a mistake to think of this uprising simply in terms of Islam. I am sure the Iranians will try to exploit this as will the Muslim Brotherhood, however, I think a lot of those people out there want a better life. They want the corrupt dictator gone.

    Not long ago, the mullahs faced an uprising like this and used brutality to put it down…now they try to say that this is an uprising like their own back in 1979.

    I think this is part of a larger movement in the Middle East. Thanks to technology these folks are beginning to catch onto the fact that they have been kept in darkness and poverty for years. In the West we have allowed ourselves to support anyone who says they will not support the extremists. Look where is has gotten us.

    Mubarak has never allowed any kind of political opposition to exist in that country. That way he can blackmail everyone into tolerating him. I just do not think that will work anymore.

  • TerryeC51

    Bob, I am not so sure that all these people are aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood or something like that. I think it would be a mistake to try and keep Mubarak in there when his own people obviously don’t want him there.

    If had done what he said he would do, and have real elections and leave office after two terms instead of installing himself as president for life…and if his family had not gone on high profile shopping trips when half the country lives on less than $2 a day and if his security forces had not done things such as torture a blogger to death…then maybe there would not be an uprising. I think technology has as much to do with this as religion. At least for now, who knows how it will all end.

  • TerryeC51

    These people are not the Borg. It is not as if they have a hive mind. Three weeks ago we had no idea any like this could or would happen in Egypt. None of the experts saw this coming. I think it would be a mistake to assume that we know what all these people want. We just do not know yet.

  • TerryeC51

    I think that to these people economic and political are much the same thing. They want the freedom to make a decent living and they want the freedom to assembly. Back in the 20s and 30s Egypt had a parliamentary government. So yes, economic forces are driving this, politics enters it as well.

  • kelleyb

    “Game over: The chance for democracy in Egypt is lost” is a fascinating article. One could say that the Weak Horse got played. hmm
    I am off to Adoration soon. I will pray for our world, our nation and our families.

  • JoyS

    Robert Springborg is a very knowledgeable man and I agree that it appears the military (and Mubarak) have outlasted those who want him ousted. But I disagree that the “pro-Mubarak” faction was only goons or hired goons. The protesters are young university students and office workers i.e. what passes in Egypt as middle class. But Egypt is a land of a very small middle class. The Mubarak supporters are small business men and independent contractors (you remember the people on the camels and horses the other day–they are the “tour” operators who eek out a “buck” but with no tourists their livelihood is destroyed and they live hand to mouth). The calls for the banks to reopen so people can get paid is a call to help the middle class protesters because everyone who isn’t rich or middle class doesn’t put their daily earnings in a bank–they put it into food in their families mouths.

    Mubarak has support not just in the Army but in the poor who are not the ones calling for democracy and instability. Their want can’t be met in protests. And this is why calling what is happening in Egypt a “pro-democracy” movement is fictitious. This is the stagnant middle class hoping something good will come out of them finally being dissatisfied after 30 years with a stable dictator not the majority of lower than middle class hoping that a good economy comes from stability. This is why these two factions clash.

    Egypt’s next problem isn’t unstable govt–it’s getting food in Egypt to feed it’s people; Egypt is a total import economy for food. This is why we, the US, should be worried….because no matter what comes next it won’t be “stable” , it will involve hunger and we will be blamed.

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