In February of this year, I warned that the Egyptian military might simply be playing a shrewd game of deception with the people of Egypt. It now seems that my suspicions and concerns were well-founded. As you have probably already heard, violence has once again erupted in Cairo's Tahrir Square in Egypt; this time by the hand of the Egyptian military, who many Egyptians erroneously assumed was siding with the youthful protesters of the January 25th Revolution.
This past Friday, tens of thousands of protesters gathered in Tahrir Square to protest against some of the actions which have been taken by the military since it took over the country following the departure of Hosni Mubarak two months ago. They named this latest protest the "Friday of Warning".
According to online news sources, while the military claims to be slowly working towards an open, free, democratic society in Egypt, at the same time, thousands of Egyptians have been arrested and tried before military courts over the past two months. Furthermore, some protesters have been tortured, and there are claims that some of the female protesters have been abused by means of so-called "virginity tests".
The latest protests were orchestrated in large part by the Muslim Brotherhood, which at this current time happens to be Egypt's most organized political organization, in the wake of the downfall of former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak. As you will recall, I mentioned in previous posts that while the revolution was initially organized by Egypt's secular youth, since then, it has in large part been taken over by the Muslim Brotherhood. Personally, I don't trust the Muslim Brotherhood, and I have begun to wonder if they haven't made some kind of back-room power-sharing arrangement with the Egyptian military.
When Friday's protests began, the Muslim Brotherhood claimed that the military was "one hand" with the people; however, by early Saturday morning, that perception had changed drastically. During the wee hours of the night, as the protesters rested in Tahrir Square, for a period of about two hours, several thousand Egyptian riot police, uniformed soldiers and military police officers stormed the square. When it was all over, at least one protester was dead, and dozens more were wounded.
In an article entitled "Hero of Egypt's Revolution, Military Now Faces Critics", the New York Times noted in part:
Since the military assumed direct control after Mr. Mubarak was forced from power, it has seen its standing as defender of the revolution called into question by actions that reflect the authoritarian tactics of the past rather than a blueprint for a democratic future, many here said.
Even the new protest was met with violence. Around 3 a.m. on Saturday, soldiers swept into Tahrir Square, beating hundreds of protesters with clubs and firing heavy volleys of gunfire to break up the demonstration, The Associated Press reported. The Health Ministry said that one person had been killed, according to the news agency.
The troops dragged an unknown number of protesters away, throwing them into police trucks, witnesses told The A.P.
So much for the Egyptian military being "one hand" with the people. These authoritarian military dictatorships of the Middle East -- which is what the Mubarak regime was -- simply don't seem to know how to deal with situations other than through violence. We have seen this in Egypt, in Libya, in Syria, in Bahrain, in Yemen, and elsewhere.
Not surprisingly, as a result of the early morning violence, the protesters are now accusing the leader of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces -- Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi -- of being Egypt's new military dictator. Considering that Field Marshal Tantawi has been a long-time friend and ally of Hosni Mubarak, and that the Egyptian military supported Mubarak's regime for the past thirty years, should we have expected any better from Tantawi?
As one jailed blogger -- Michael Nabil -- noted, "The revolution has so far managed to get rid of the dictator, but the dictatorship still exists."
It would seem then that the protesters of the January 25th Revolution in Egypt have had a rude awakening, and now realize that their only true friends and supporters are those who sit in, or march along, beside them. No one else can be trusted.
And the Muslim Brotherhood?