David published this on Arab Spring in My Step last night.
Just back from reporting from Tahrir.
It was dark, heaving with people, tear gas swirling in the air, the sound of street battles on the side streets – sometimes very tense, sometimes bursting with excitement.
This is not the forum for a long detailed look at what has happened over the last week (I am too tired for one thing and hopefully will have a more fulsome report in this weekend’s Sunday Business Post), but just some initial thoughts on this cool Cairo night…
Since the massive protest on Friday I have visited the square every day except Monday. During that time its mood has shifted, its voice changed, its demands developed.
In the case of the intense police attack on Sunday- I think the mood of some of the crowd actually changed during that retreat, with the chants becoming even clearer in their attack on the military leadership.
It seems clear that now, no matter what “concessions” the military rulers make, the ‘revolutionary youth’ in Tahrir (for a real want of a better term, because not everyone there is young!) have decided that the men in uniform represent a counter revolutionary force and must go.
Whether the vast swath of Egyptians agree entirely with this is not so clear.
The military traditionally garners respect here. It walked away from the revolution in January with its reputation enhanced. The dominate narrative, was that by its decision not to attack protestors during the revolution, they were somehow a partner with the revolutionaries. Some of the revolutionaries always disagreed with this narrative.
However, even its strongest supporters must concede that the rulers in uniform have gone about squandering this goodwill, with abandon. Military trials of civilians, imprisonment of opposition activists, the massacre of protesting Coptic Christians, the recent crackdown in Tahrir- and the slow pace of the promised transfer to civilian power, all this (and other actions) has severely tested the support the military enjoyed with some.
The ruling Field Marshall spoke on Egyptian TV tonight, apparently setting a solid date for presidential elections, but it seems that the protestors on the streets of Tahrir are well past that. And many don’t seem all that appeased by the parliamentary elections due to begin next week.
There was a revolution in January 2011.
It was televised.
We all watched it happen.
But after Mubarak was ousted and the bulk of protestors left Tahrir – there remained a strange anomaly in this revolution,
The revolutionaries never came to power.
Because of that-this revolution remains unfinished in the eyes of those in Tahrir tonight.
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