Here’s a bird’s eye view:
And here’s a similar scene, but up close and personal:
From what I can tell, this isn’t likely to end in the overthrow of the Mubarak regime. Egypt is not Tunisia. But the protests and violence clearly have th Arab leadership very worried because, well, Egypt is not Tunisia. Egypt is the biggest nation in the Arab world. Al Jazeera isn’t very popular among Americans, but it is probably even less popular among Arab leaders who fear its reports coming out of Egypt. King Hamad, the leader of Bahrain, for example, has called Mubarak seeking an emergency Arab summit.
As the Gulf Daily News (NOT an independent news source, by the way), blandly reported the development:
His Majesty King Hamad made the call as he held a telephone conversation with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
He stressed the need to co-ordinate the meeting to map out a strategy spearheading the progress of the Arab nations.
He also highlighted the importance of such a blueprint to promote the interests, security and stability of Arabs.
The strategic importance of Egypt and its pivotal role as a guarantor of Arab stability was also stressed.
“The stability of Egypt reflects on the stability of all Arab countries,” His Majesty said, calling for strong bilateral relations.
He expressed his confidence in the stability and steadfastness of Egypt, hailing President Mubarak’s wisdom, enlightened vision and aspiration to ensure a better future for his people.
King Hamad hailed Egypt’s firm and principled national stance, describing it as a reference point for all Arab and Islamic causes.
He highlighted the crucial role played by Egypt in the liberation of Kuwait in 1990.
His Majesty also praised the vital role of Egypt, led by President Mubarak, in championing Arab causes, promoting unity and consolidating the march of joint work.
Here in the United States, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tried to walk the narrow line between support for the protesters’ cause and caution about what could come next, as Voice of America reports:
In calling for restraint by all the parties in Egypt, Clinton said the United States has consistently urged the Mubarak government to be responsive to calls for greater political reform and openness.
“We support the universal rights of the Egyptian people including the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly,” she said. “And we urge the Egyptian authorities not to prevent peaceful protests or block communications, including on social media sites. We believe strongly that the Egyptian government has an important opportunity at this moment in time, to implement political, economic and social reforms to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people.”
In the short term, tomorrow promises to be the critical day, as Egyptians gather in mosques for the Friday day of prayer. And in the slightly longer term, these events call into further question what happens in Egypt once the 82-year-old Mubarak leaves the scene. The Western world may have a lot at stake, but it also has very little ability to influence what happens. Change that is not allowed to occur gradually has a way of occurring all at once.
– Jay Bookman