Things don’t look good in Egypt.
The emerging alliance between the Egyptian army and the right-wing Muslim Brotherhood seems to be in control, and it’s likely that the elections for parliament will produce an assembly dominated by the Brotherhood and the (military-linked) National Democratic Party, the remade party that controlled the country during the Mubarak era.
Today, in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, many of those who organized the revolt that toppled Mubarak were back in the square, protesting the slowness of Egypt’s democratic evolution. They were calling, they said, for a “second revolution.” But according to reports from Cairo, only “several thousand” appeared. Noticeably absent was the Brotherhood, which denounced the rally. (In a statement today, the Muslim Brotherhood asked: “Who are the people angry with now?”) In the square itself, one the slogans chanted was: “Where is the Muslim Brotherhood?”
On its Facebook page—isn’t it perverse that the ruling Egyptian military council communicates its positions via Facebook?—the military warned that the Tahrir Square rally was organized by “suspicious elements who will try to pit the military against the people.” Not far away, a rally of several hundred people held a counter-rally of sorts. Their slogan? “For the sake of our country, we want to be ruled by the army.”
On CNN, Fareed Zakaria had it about right:
“We think of Egypt as having gone through a regime change. But it really didn’t go through a regime change. Egypt has been run since 1952 by a military dictatorship. It is still run by a military dictatorship. Mubarak resigned. A few people around him resigned. But at the end of the day the military still holds power. They have a huge vested interest in maintaining the current system politically, financially and socially. They aren’t going to go quietly into the night.”
According to Al Ahram, the semi-official Egyptian daily, which has undergone a regime change of its own, there were reports that the “youth wing” of the Muslim Brotherhood has planned to take part in the Second Day of Rage events today, but it isn’t clear that they did so. The younger members of the Brotherhood are far less dogmatic than the older ones, but they’re also not part of the group’s leadership, and it isn’t clear what clout they have. Reports Al Ahram:
“Many of the leading activist groups, including the 6 April Youth movement, the Coalition of Revolutionary Youth, Al-Masry Al-Hurr, ElBaradei Campaign, the Egyptian Movement for Change, the Maspero Copts movement, the Muslim Brotherhood Youth wing and expected presidential candidate Bothaina Kamel have all announced their intention to take part.”
And the military, through the so-called Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, is arresting people—including leaders of the April 6 Youth Movement—who were organizing today’s events, and taking other measures to curtail it, reports Al Ahram:
“The SCAF used several tactics to prevent people from joining the protest, from sending ousted president Mubarak and his two sons to criminal court, releasing statements on Facebook saying suspicious elements were asking people to protest and playing on the relationship between the people and the army, and finally on Thursday arresting activists leafleting about the 27 May protests.”