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Every revolution has sooner or later to stand on the barricades and fight a counter-revolution. The scenes today at the Tahrir square are nothing short of the scenery that we imagine from the French revolution. A gathering that can be described as “the people” because it looks like the people is holding ground against hordes of militiamen of a dying regime. Young and old, women and men, Muslims and Christians, women in Hijab and women in jeans, all are there, some are throwing stones, the women are gathering stones and passing them to the young men, others are building barricades, doctors attending to the wounded, committees organized and arresting thugs, others address the media…. A people on the march.
It is clear that what is happening now is an orchestrated attack on the revolution with as main players Mubarak himself who refuses to leave and is willing to burn the whole country before budging. The corrupted businessmen who feel they will lose their privileges and are paying their employees and blackmailing others to joining pro regime demonstrations. ( I have actual information of a boss that paid his employees half of their salaries an promised them the rest tomorrow if they would attend a pro Mubarak demo). Add to that, the goons of the security forces who are afraid from trials after the revolution and who are desperate to defend their status.
The position of the Americans is double, on one hand Obama and the state department are pushing for keeping the regime but under another name like Suleiman, the man of the CIA and of Israel. On the other hand , the CIA and the Israelis would like Mubarak to stand ground not only for his sake but to prevent the revolutionary scenario from spreading to other Arab countries, they also know that deposing Mubarak will lead to democracy and democracy will lead to an anti-Israel agenda.
The speech of Mubarak yesterday did leave the opposition confused and the street doubting. The argument of many was ” he said he is leaving so let’s wait these few months”. The Wafd party (liberals) and others, accepted the Mubarak “geste” and ended their participation in the revolution. The youth movement which is the largest component of the revolution and the Muslim Brotherhood which is the largest political party and the best organized entity, both rejected the speech and declared their determination to continue the struggle. Also Mohamad al Baradei joined that position.
My fear, and that of many, was that confused and divided, starved and scared the people will back down and the revolution will die out. But Mubarak committed a large mistake sending his militias against the people. In a surrealistic scene, thugs on horses and camels attacked the Tahrir square with swords, in a move coming from another time and another planet. But the image speaks for it self, the thug on a horse attacking the young man with a blackberry, this is the contrast between the Egypt of Mubarak and the new Egypt the revolution is claiming. Thousands upon thousands of thugs and regime troopers in civil clothing, stormed the Tahrir square but in vain, the people stood its ground, fought on every entry of the square. The Battles were live on Aljazeera ( the revolution TV and thank you Qatar again and again ) and the people finally after 7 hours of fighting for every inch, got the militias on the run.
At this moment, skirmishes are still happening in nearby areas ( the museum, Talaat harb, etc…), 1000 wounded fell among the people, but more than 400 prisoners from the thugs were arrested by the popular committees. The militiamen are regrouping and planning another attack, but also thousands of young men, led by figures of the Muslim Brotherhood are heading towards Al tahrir square.
The Brotherhood, my historic rivals as Arab nationalist and leftist, are playing an important role in this revolution. They are putting their neck on the line for it, they are putting their doctors at its service, they are using their influence to sustain it including having Youssof Qaradwi Himself on Aljazeera calling to support the people. They are above all , not recuperating and when talking to the media stressing that no one owns this revolution and that the people who started it are the young men and women who went to the streets on the 25th of January when all the political parties including the Brotherhood were taken by surprise, and the men and women who marched yesterday in millions making every political party including the brotherhood look small and negligent. But today the revolution needs structured organizations to form a fighting machine and the Brotherhood has experience, resources and the will to play that role. And they are doing it in respect of the movement and without claiming it. This attitude is earning respect from everybody, including the thousands of non-political , nationalist or leftist youth who are standing the ground with brotherhood people all over Egypt today.
The Brotherhood, the movement of 6 april, and Baradei are all playing the role the UGTT played in Tunisia they have now the responsibility to regulate the rhythm of the revolution.
The youth of 6 april are the ones calling for action, they are calling for a day of anger tomorrow and for the day of salvation on Friday hoping to use the momentum of the Friday prayers, and the brotherhood are in an ideal position to support such a plan.
Friday there must be a march to the presidential palace, the army can do nothing, and the President can only take his airplane to join Benali or put a bullet in his own head. The actions of the regime destroyed every chance to appease the people and now there is a no way back for sure. Mubarak cannot control Egypt, either he will leave, or Egypt will explode in violent turmoil till he does.
Dyab Abou Jahjah can be reached through his blog.