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Egypt's oligarchy determined to prevent true revolution

Mark Urban | 19:02 UK time, Monday, 31 January 2011

It is Egypt's oligarchs who will most likely decide the fate of President Hosni Mubarak.

They are the generals, businessmen, and political fixers who run the country, have prospered for decades at the expense of others, and have the most to lose from revolution.

These are the kind who told President Ben Ali of Tunisia that it was time to go (because their interests were threatened), and who to a considerable extent still wield power there, and suppress the demonstrations in Tunis that are now largely ignored by the foreign media.

By appearing with his security chiefs on TV on Sunday, Mr Mubarak sought to convince everybody that he retains the confidence of Egypt's oligarchy.

Their continued support has come at a price, including the appointment of Omar Suleiman, the former intelligence chief, as vice-president.

Gen Suleiman personifies Egypt's "permanent government".

As a former boss of the Mukhabarat intelligence service, he knows better than anyone what makes Egypt tick.

He played an important role in negotiating the ceasefire than ended Israel's Gaza War in 2009, and has extensive contacts with foreign diplomats, spymasters, and business leaders.

At the moment - and clearly events have been moving with great speed in the region, so this may change - Mr Mubarak is just hanging on, and the oligarchs have lined up a possible replacement in Gen Suleiman.

The army has secured key installations in Egypt's cities, and whatever support its members may feel for the country's unemployed or down trodden masses, the military has held together, without units going over en masse to the opposition.

The Egyptian army prefers to remain in this reactive role - its statement that it will not fire on the people makes plain it will not clear the streets.

If it was ordered, that task would most likely have to fall to the interior ministry's 400,000 strong paramilitary forces, who have re-emerged after spending the weekend in barracks.

So long as these forces - totalling nearly one million armed men - remain solid, the country's permanent government will not have to cede power.

They may choose a different front man; they may concede some tangible influence to a newly elected parliament; but they will prevent radical transformation of the country.

They will protect their economic privileges, and block any wholesale power grab by Islamic extremists.

If though the army, interior forces and Mukhabarat fracture, then a truly revolutionary situation may arise.

Mr Mubarak or his new vice-president might retain the support of the generals, but if the forces are placed in an untenable position - for example by having to mount a large scale violent crackdown - a revolt among middle ranking officer (such as colonels and majors) could ensue.

This was the type of change that brought radical transformation to Egypt and the wider Arab world in the 50s and 60s when "colonels' coups" spread from Cairo to Baghdad, Damascus and Tripoli, sweeping away an old elite.

Back in the 50 revolution brought a pan-Arab ideology to power: Baathism.

Today the vibrant currents of thought are Islamic, and democratic.

We can only guess whether the current events will produce a "1989 moment" in which democratic values spread out from Egypt, as they did from Berlin at the end of the Cold War, or a "1979 moment" involving an initially broad-based democratic revolution being hijacked by Islamists as it was in Iran.

But the people who would lose most from either course - the Cairo elite - will not give up easily.


  • Comment number 1.

    usa that gives billions in aid will determine who is in charge. it won't be democracy because democracy won't be positive for israel.

  • Comment number 2.

    It was never going to be democracy doesn`t happen in any real form here and it has not an earthly of breaking out in muslim countries anyway.

    People like the Afghans and Egyptians and Persians KNOW what "democracy" is about as imposed by us or Soros or the`s a medium for spreading the influence of global capitalism via corrupt elections.... and it installs the same old oligarchic families and tribal and military leaders in order that Washington can pickup the phone and run the they do with Britain and Ireland and the EU.

    That`s why so many use Islam and theocracies to undermine global capitalism`s grip on the world....but once the capitalist media get in to influence them the game is probably up!

  • Comment number 3.

    #1 and 2

    Mark's post is all too familiar is it not.

    ''businessmen, and political fixers who run the country, have prospered for decades at the expense of others''

    As worcesterjim suggests, our version of the above are simply more adept at projecting the illusion of democracy. They make us think everything that happens is 'our own idea' or 'in our own interests', when actually it is not.

    Such is the power of 'suggestion' ...ask any pub hypnotist.

    Sooner or later something will come along, that shouts 'wake up' loud enough for it to make a difference.

  • Comment number 4.

    ust to say Mark no apology is necessary to that great man of peace on account of a common title for a working blog on current affairs to do with a theme,which along with so many others, Tolstoy toiled over in his masterpieces. A name is a name is a ....,that's all, although I do understand that there are some cultures that believe that names of themselves endow something special; a self aggrandising superstition of course.

  • Comment number 5.

    Egyptians - beware the illusions of so called representative democracy.

    It's wonderful to see the people rising up against their oppressors & demanding freedom & democracy.
    But they are further from freedom & democracy than they might think.

    Egyptians, do you think we have freedom & democracy in Britain?
    Tory or Labour, Democrat or Republican, nothing really changes; people are just given the illusion of a choice.
    It's really just Pepsi or Coca-Cola.

    The Arab nationalists sold out to the West, but there are other imperialists, e.g. China.
    Whoever controls the oil, the Suez Canal, indeed, whoever controls the means of production, controls society & will use the workers as slaves for their own profit.

    The Muslim Brotherhood may well be a big improvement on the current regime, but as Iran shows Islamists don't offer self-determination.

    Democracy has to be direct democracy.
    Direct democracy involved the people determining society's needs & how they are met; it is the public ownership of the means of production.

    But even this isn't enough.
    It has to be international to survive.

    Well done Egyptians, keep going & continue to set an example to the world.

  • Comment number 6.


    Nuff sed.

  • Comment number 7.

    Yes...they seem to be blocking the main NN blog`s dawned at last that the EDL could be our freedom fighters...which then calls into question where the BBC stands on a free if we didn`t know!!

  • Comment number 8.

    The United States has troops in the Sinai - about 1,000 (as far as I know, but there may be more.). These could easily be infiltrated into Egypt, with live ammunittion; they could initiate bloodshed and mayhem, and take this relatively peaceful situation to a new level. How could the Egyptian People seperate the American army from its own army, which of course, has promised not to act against its own citizens?
    Egptians are used to seeing its army; they have been fanned through Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and other Egyptian locations. Lt. Gen. Sami Enan, Chief of Staff of Egypt’s armed forces, left Washington in a hurry.
    How Egypt's military handles the thousands of protesters marching through the streets of Cairo could well decide the country's fate.
    Egypt's military for the past 30 years has received billions of dollars in US aid. It even sends its most promising officers to study in American Colleges; yet, for all that, it's not clear whether the US has leverage with Egypt's military leadership, but it certainly has control of its own forces, which are close at hand in the Sinai.
    It wasn't particularly unusual for the top Egyptian officer, Army Lt. Gen. Sami Enan, to be in Washington, but when Egypt erupted, Enan cut his visit short. Later, the top US Officer, Adm. Mike Mullen, called the Egyptian general and there occurred a pledge to continue the strong relationship.
    I don't think there's anything the US can do that's really decisive in terms of what's happening on the streets...except as I mentioned above; INFILTRATE. Otherwise, the revolution seems to very much have its own momentum.
    In Cairo, there is a mind-set that Enan has White House backing to keep Mubarak in power if possible. This may be untrue. Perhaps President Barack Obama is waiting to see further developments before taking sides against Mubarak. But mind-set is not easily disrupted, and the results can be devastating. What if those Amerucan troops infiltrate? What if they shoot to kill? What happens then?
    Mubarak will either stay by shedding blood and spreading fear or he will fall. If the blood is shed by American forces, there will literally be Hell to pay across the Arab world.
    Whatever the White House and the Pentagon told Enan, Mubarak seems to think that the Obama administration does not really want him to go.
    Everyone in Egypt knows that power is vested with Mubarak, but all Mubarek has done is to fire his cabinet and promise to announce a new government. No other grievances have been addressed. But in the style of Bill Clinton, Mubarek said that he is in touch with Egyptians and understands their problems. He also insisted that he is the guarantor of the nation’s safety, especially against violent instigators who want to “destabilize” the country.
    Will the Egyptian army shoot at the people, or will infiltrated American forces shoot at the people?
    Enan’s soldiers will fire on their civilian brothers only if the army has been assured of White House support or neutrality. Egypt’s army has very close ties to the Pentagon. It conducts exercises with US forces every two years. There are two-way visits almost each month. It is closer to the Pentagon than the Jordanians - the other other major Arab ally of the US in the Middle East.
    (The top ally is, of course, Israel.)
    Watch for American covert action in Egypt...and if this happens:
    watch for all Hell to break lose among Arab countries.

  • Comment number 9.


    Good tip off BB. I am alerted.

  • Comment number 10.

    9 Just when I thought I had left the Twighlight Zone I find myself among 9/11 deniars AGAIN.
    I know that I shall regret this be DO tell us Barrie...who was responsible for 9/ll?...Preferably without the use of the phrases Airfix models or Elders of Zion or complete coincidence?

  • Comment number 11.

    The English Defence League: Who are they defending England against? Perhaps the hundreds countries affected by England's plundering empire? God love them; the poor English!!!

    Do this group defend dark skinned English people, or is it just the deserving white people???

  • Comment number 12.

    11 now there`s an interesting point DD...when I have visited Ulster I have never seen a dark skin....and didn`t the Roma have to leave and go home when you folk made them unwelcome?

    Whereas we have large numbers of people from all over the world here and if you have a desire to become truly multicultural (rather than exclusively tribal/sectarian) I am sure the RC church can assist you!

  • Comment number 13.

    And how many black people are in Sinn Fein?

  • Comment number 14.

    And if Irish nationalist got the rough ride that English nationalists do would you support us?

  • Comment number 15.

    12. worcesterjim
    "didn`t the Roma have to leave and go home"

    It's funny you mention the awful treatment of the Roma Gypsies in Belfast. I think you will find, that the people involved in this intimidatory activity, would be people who would proclaim to be British; Ulster loyalists, egged on by Combat 18 and the BNP .

    N.Ireland has a multi-cultured society. Because of our small population, their presence is not as visible as it is in Britain. The lack of work West of the river Bann, is the main reason why immigrants don't come here! Racist attacks are few and do not represent the views of the majority of the people. Irish people are all over the world; unlike the English, we rarely complain when people follow us home!!!

    Sinn Fein are a party built on equality. That means equality for all the people in Ireland. Read some of their literature; you might be surprised!!!

  • Comment number 16.

    14. worcesterjim
    "would you support us?"

    Irish republicans would support any calls by English nationalists, to an England free of the Act of Union. They would of course, have to agree that a 32 county Ireland has a right to sovereign status at the same time!!!

  • Comment number 17.

    15...So that will be a "no" then DD?....but here`s an idea ...just point me to the Roma living in the Catholic community as you are so multicultural...or has the black Sinn Fein contingent got their own website maybe?

  • Comment number 18.

    17. worcesterjim
    "Roma living in the Catholic community"

    Roma people live here in Derry City with no problem. As do Irish travellers, who have integrated while maintaining their individuality. They are all welcome in my city. The Roma people are mostly beggars, and they also sell flowers. These people are enslaved by European Mafioso, who bring them here then control them. Chinese Mafioso do the same for marijuana growers.

  • Comment number 19.

    18 That`s fascinating DD...because they face persecution everywhere else. Seriously what do you atribute that level of tolerance? Have you an abundance of social housing perhaps?

  • Comment number 20.

    16 I can`t imagine English nationalists objecting to Irish freedom at all DD....but whereas our Yankee masters would let you go free they make it very plain we are stuck fast in the UK/EU robbery regime until we all go broke!

  • Comment number 21.

    19. worcesterjim
    "Have you an abundance of social housing"

    It's Derry city we're talking about. The lack of social housing is an ever present problem here. That and high unemployment. People here have had to suffer intolerance for centuries. Do on to others as you would like done on to you I guess!!!

  • Comment number 22.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 23.

    It's a bit rich for an Irishman to be preaching to anyone else about tolerance!! You breed intolerance based on what side of the religious fence you fall - another gold star for organised religion!!

    On the general point about democracy. WorcesterJim is right - there's no such thing really. We can vote people in based on a manifesto (which the majority of the country never read) and politicians can and do u-turns on promises and we can't vote them out for up to 5 years. Not very democratic.

    Also, power corrupts. Always has, always will. All the normal man can do is hope that morals and conscience are occasionally engaged in any decision making process.

    Things are bad in Egypt, but all I'd say to the average Egyptian is be wary of what wish for. Change may be needed, but depending on what that change is - things may not be any better and could be much worse. If the Muslim Brotherhood get in to power I don't think things will be better at all, for the Egyptians or the West - again religious divides crop up.

    Here's to an Atheist world.

  • Comment number 24.

    23. Will71
    "It's a bit rich for an Irishman to be preaching to anyone else about tolerance!!"

    The English and Scottish, and in particular from the Tudors onwards, brought religious intolerance to Ireland and spread it throughout the island. It is a pity it has remained ever since. Be careful what you wish for!!!

  • Comment number 25.

    Well, Mr. Urban, I think you've got it!
    There is plenty of covert action going on - not just by the Egyptian oligarchy, but by the United States, Israel, and possibly Britain.
    I don't think it's just the Egyptian oligarchs who will most likely decide the fate of President Hosni Mubarak; I think that israel is working frantically and that the United States is working frantically. Not too sure about you Brits, but you do tend to hang with the Americans.
    Israel has the most to lose in the way of security; you can bet something heavy is going to come o0ut of Israel - something covert and BIG!
    You're right about Tunisia. It's sort of dropped off the map.
    Maybe you could find out what's really going on there.
    Back to Egypt, Omar Suleiman is no solution. His ties to the CIA, Israel's Mossad and potential covert action from the United States are too heavy.
    It's not the Egyptian Army that frightens me; it's the American and Jewish presence in the Sinai; it's Africom - America's army in Africa.
    And now you add this new information: If it was ordered, that task would most likely have to fall to the interior ministry's 400,000 strong paramilitary forces, who have re-emerged after spending the weekend in barracks. Wow!
    Thank-you for this astonishing article that sees the situation as it really is.

  • Comment number 26.

    Will 71 should be aware that he is wasting his time trying to get Dis Derry to ever blame himself or his precious sect for anything.They are pure as driven snow....which could be why he wears dark glasses! (But between ourselves have you ever noticed how fascist regimes are so often Roman Catholic?)

  • Comment number 27.

    26. worcesterjim

    As I have already explained to you, the Irish are defenders, while the British are attackers; They are seen the world over as fascist imperialist warmongers. Your government is one of the biggest terrorist organisations the world has ever seen. Open your eyes; read some books; learn something!!!

  • Comment number 28.

    27 SORRY DIS!! It was the tears of laughter that obscured philosophical profundity of your latest fevered ramblings...and perhaps the thought that I had heard very similar stuff from my relatives about the Red Hoynd of Ulster....not to mention the Rev Paisley`s Neverland DIY christian message of peace to the world....before he became one of the Chuckle Brothers!
    No wonder the South don`t want you lot....they can`t afford your antics!

  • Comment number 29.

    28. worcesterjim

    The British are seen the world over as fascist imperialist warmongers. Your government is one of the biggest terrorist organisations the world has ever seen. No wonder the World hates your lot....they can`t stand your subversive antics!

    Open your eyes; read some books; learn something!!!

  • Comment number 30.

    29 You haven`t been the same since you went on that Bloody Sunday march last week DD....the only trouble with you parroting like this is that I AGREE WITH YOU and my sincere wish is that our troops(more like Wall Street`s troops) would come home now...and that Ireland should be I have told you!
    Now is there another tune on your fiddle?

  • Comment number 31.

    "The British are seen the world over as fascist imperialist warmongers. Your government is one of the biggest terrorist organisations the world has ever seen."

    Strictly speaking I don't think you can be warmongers and terrorists at the same time. Terrorists don't go to war.

    If we are seen as fascist imperialist warmongers the world over, frankly that's the problem of those that have that thought. Our imperialist credentials are in the past and I'd suggest that those annoyed about what happened in the past are probably so because we were just better at it than their countries were. Most countries have tried to extend their 'empire' at some stage of history, but to hold a grudge about that is ridiculous. I don't hate the French because the Duke of Normandy took a liking to Britain in 1066. I don't hate Scandinavians because the Vikings invaded, nor the Germans for trying.

    If anyone wants to talk about Imperialism - what about Religion? Organised religion has invaded countries for 2000 years, trying desperately to extend its influence and power across all borders. Look at the trouble that has caused, and continues to cause. Look at the wars and terror that has been committed in the name of religion and because of religion. What's that if it isn't imperialism and warmongering? As for Fascist - one definition I found is "Fascists believe that a nation is an organic community that requires strong leadership, singular collective identity, and the will and ability to commit violence and wage war in order to keep the nation strong." That is also how I'd sum up the impact of many organised religions over the last 2000 years.

    There is a good argument that the US and the UK extend an imperialist influence on other countries through foreign policy, but all countries do that in different ways, so lets not pretend we are the only ones or the worst.

  • Comment number 32.

    31 Careful Will....DD has spent years being indoctrinated to the point where he has as much imagination as an "I speak your Weight" machine.....and before you sneer at him let`s remember that the two main "christian" (ho ho!) sects atre as bad as each other at turning out mindless bigots!
    And guess who created the mess... Yes ..THE BRITISH!

  • Comment number 33.

    31. Will71
    "Terrorists don't go to war"

    Can you define the word terrorist for me???

    "Fascists believe that a nation is an organic community that requires strong leadership, singular collective identity, and the will and ability to commit violence and wage war in order to keep the nation strong."

    The singular collective British identity has been spewed out by collective UK Prime Ministers, ignoring those who don't want to have such an identity. The definition you give sums up the notion that, the illegal wars being conducted by the current axis of evil, headed by the US and UK governments, are being fought to strengthen British influence on the world, and to have supremacy over the world markets!!!

    The British government is a fascist, terrorist organisation; they have been for centuries!!!

  • Comment number 34.

    32. WorcesterJim

    I'm not going to sneer at anyone. DD has his opinion and I have mine. We don't agree. That's what these blogs are about.

    Re the bigot thing - I'm a confirmed Atheist so don't feel any good comes out of organised religion whatever the derivation. My experience is that it creates division that, bringing it back to the subject of the blog, is my main concern over the Egypt situation. It worries me what may happen if the Muslim Brotherhood come to power, because yet again religion will be involved in decision making ahead of common sense.

  • Comment number 35.

    For what it`s worth I think religion is just a form of undemocratic politics in which people are persecuted if they disagree with "God`s Word"....or the clergy.

  • Comment number 36.

    Protests started in Egypt.
    The top brass of the Egyptian military scurried to the United States.
    The top brass consulted with US officials; in other words to receive their marching orders.
    The current regime is no more than a pawn serving American and Israeli interests. The US has been neck-deep in every aspect of the Egyptian government's activities, including Mubarek's failure to step down.
    Israel has allowed the Egyptian military to move into areas of the Sinai Peninsula.
    The reality: the US government has worked against democracy in Arab countries. When President Obama says that there should be a period of "transition" in Egypt.
    What does this mean?
    It means Mubarak and the Egyptian regime should remain. The US does not want a people's transitional Government in Egypt.
    The US must bring the Egyptian military towards the control of Egypt until a "moderate and legitimate political leadership can emerge". (Choke. Choke.)
    US State Department double-speak needs translation. What US officials mean by "moderate" are dictatorships and regimes like Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Jordan, and Ben Ali's Regime in Tunisia. As for "legitimacy", this means individuals who will serve American/Israelis' interests.
    Israel is far more bombast than the US. Out of fear of losing Egypt, Israel has been encouraging the Mubarak regime to unleash the full force of the Egyptian military. They have also been defending Mubarak internationally. The Egyptian military's primary role has always been to police the Egyptian people, keep the Mubarak regime in power. US military aid to Egypt is intended for Mubarek Regime defence.
    If the Egyptian people manage (some how) to bring about new, sovereign, democratic government, the world is being told: it would mean a second Iran. This would cause a truly significant global shift. It would also deeply upset the interests of the US, Israel, Britain, the EU, and NATO.
    If the Egyptian people manage (some how) to bring about new, sovereign, democratic government, the fake Israeli-Palestinian peace talks would be over, the suffering (starvation) of the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip would end, the cornerstone of Israeli military security would be gone.
    Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu: "Tehran is waiting for the day in which darkness descends." Netanyahu is correct about one thing, the Iranian Foreign Ministry has been monitoring the events in Egypt rather keenly, but haven’t all Middle East & north African countries been monitoring rather keenly?
    Syria has made low-key remarks; it fears of revolt at home.
    Israel is preparing itself. Netanyahu to the Israeli Knesset: "A peace agreement does not guarantee the existence of peace (between Israel and Egypt), so in order to protect it and ourselves, in cases in which the agreement disappears or is violated due to regime change on the other side, we protect it with security arrangements on the ground."
    Would the Israelis attack Egypt if a true People’s Party was set in place? Is such a nightmare scenario, which includes the use of nuclear weapons, a possiblity?
    Egypt cannot be managed by the Mubarak regime, the US, Israel, and their allies anymore. Thus, the US, Israel, and their allies are now working to divide, destabilize Egypt. The attacks on the peaceful protestors in Cairo's central Tahrir Square by Mubarak's club-wielding thugs riding camels & horses was a stage production. It epitomized every stereotype and incorrect attitude about Arabs and the peoples of the Middle East.
    The Mubarak regime's state-controlled media is reporting popular support for Mubarak, wide-spread approval of his speech and his "transitional government" plans. The same state-controlled media is also trying to blame Iran and its Arab allies for the Egyptian protests. Egyptian state-controlled media has reported that Iranian special forces, along with the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas, have been on destabilization missions.
    Mubarak's thugs are also creating chaos in Egypt; it’s called "managed chaos". Making Egyptians fight one another, turning Egypt into a divided and insecure state, just like Anglo-American Iraq, is the objective. The building tensions between Egyptian Muslims and Egyptian Christians, which includes the attacks on Coptic churches, is also involved. In this context, on the 13th day of the protests in Egypt, the Mar Girgis Church in the Egyptian town of Rafah, next to Gaza and Israel, was attacked by armed men on motorcycles.
    Egypt is not free yet.

  • Comment number 37.

    Egypt's oligarchy is determined to prevent true revolution, as are the United States and Israel.
    It is Egypt's oligarchs who will most likely decide the fate of President Hosni Mubarak, and you will note that Mubarak is still in Egypt, at Sharm el-Sheik - his palace of historical consultation with western powers. Why has Mubarak not left Egypt?
    As for Tunisia, interim authorities have said elections "could" be held in about six months, but will they be held in six months?
    Marzouki said Tunisia has to complete cleaning house before any elections; the old system under Ben Ali's ruling party must be swept away. To this end, the interim PM and president resigned from the former ruling Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD) party. Four ministers refused to sit in a cabinet that contained 8 high-ranking members of Ben Ali's government.
    Earlier, Tunisia's junior minister for transportation said that he and 2 other ministers with ties to a labour union had resigned. Anouar Ben Gueddour has resigned along with Houssine Dimassi, the Minister of Training & Employment, and Abdeljelil Bedoui, a minister dealing with PM affairs. Mustapha Ben Jaafar, the newly-appointed health minister, is also gone. The "unity" government is beginning to look patchy.
    The opposition, Ettajdid Party will also pull out if ministers from Ben Ali's RCD do not give up their party membership and return to the state all properties they grabbed through the RCD. Don't hold your breath for this to happen.
    Ghannouchi, who has been PM since 1999, said that ministers from Ben Ali's party were included in the new government "because we need them in this phase"; they have "clean hands" as well as "great competence".
    Because of this, many angry Tunisians see the new "unity" government as a sham.
    Apparently, Ghannouchi erred in reappointing so many ministers from Ben Ali's government. I think it remains to be seen whether this new government will even be able to stand, never mind hold elections in six months (60 days is required by law.).
    Meanwhile, Moncek Marzouki, a human rights activist, was met at the airport by a crowd of his supporters. Marzouki told them that he would ask Saudi Arabia to hand over Ben Ali who has to be prosecuted in Tunisia for "crimes committed against the people of Tunisia".
    He also urged fellow Tunisians to hold firm in their efforts to bring down the RCD, calling this party: "a parasite of the country...
    Tunisia's biggest threat: chaos. You have a lot of people from the old regime (oligarchy)...They think that chaos would probably benefit them," because the people would then demand the return of Ben Ali.
    Marzouki: the people have to understand that now it's time to build up a new country, and that we need much more discipline, and that they have to accept that we cannot have everything right away...
    The echelon in the police corps, which carried out Ben Ali's repressive policies, has yet to be cleansed. A security official in Tunis confirmed police were vacating their posts. Tunisia's parliament voted to give the interim president, Fouad Mebazaa, the power to enact laws by decree to expedite reforms before elections. Marzouki says the PM is part of the problem because of his decade under Ben Ali.
    Only two opposition parties are represented in the Cabinet. The Ennahdha Party represents moderate Islamists has not been included, nor Marzouki's own party: the Congress for the Republic.
    Marzouki has no qualms about the eventual entrance of Ennahdha, banned by Ben Ali. What if Ennahdha allied with Marzouki?
    "Why not?" Marzouki said. "Ennahdha is a central part of the (political) spectrum."
    The first-ever political opinion poll in Tunisia shows that its 11M people are not politically savvy. Only three parties, Ben Ali's RCD — whose activities are now suspended — Ennahdha and the legal opposition PDP party have been recognized.
    Back to Egypt, Where is Omar Sulieman now and what is he up to?
    As a former boss of the Mukhabarat Intelligence Service, he knows Egypt better than anyone. Sulieman played an important role in negotiating the ceasefire than ended Israel's Gaza War in 2009, and has extensive contacts with foreign diplomats and business leaders.
    What is Mubarak's true status at Sharm el-Sheik?
    The army has secured key installations in Egypt's cities; the military has held together. The Egyptian army prefers to remain in this role; it maintains that it will not fire on the people, makes plain it will not clear the streets, but the army has begun to do exactly that - clear the streets, or at least Liberation Sqaure.
    The Interior Ministry has 500,000 strong paramilitary forces, who have re-emerged. So long as these forces remain solid, the country's permanent government will not have to cede power. They may choose a different President; they may concede some tangible power-sharing; but they will not allow radical transformation.
    They will protect their economic privileges; they will block any wholesale power grab by Islamic extremists. In order for Egypt to conclude a truly democratic revolution: the army, interior forces and Mukhabarat must be broken apart. What is the chance of that happening with the military in control?
    I believe that Tunisia has a better chance of total democratic change than does Egypt. In Egypt there has occurred a SOFT COUP - a soft MILITARY coup. For democracy to ensue, at least a good portion of the army must side with the people - like the former "colonels' coups" that spread from Cairo to Baghdad, literally sweeping out the old elite.
    But the Cairo Elite, I think, are playing games. There have been "public" changes that mean literally nothing. The Cairo elite is still in charge, and who knows what they are up to.


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