Two years ago when protests in Tahrir Square led to the ouster of Egyptian despot Hosni Mubarak I was ecstatic. American-Saudi-Israeli domination of the Middle East seemed about to undergo a necessary alteration in order to accommodate democracy over autocracy. I was working at a carpenters local at the the time and there was plenty of hopeful, giddy discussion among the few informed progressive members.
This morning after catching up on stories from David Kirkpatrick for today, yesterday and Monday I'd argue that Egypt is still showing us the way. There is a lot of tut-tutting about the state being in collapse, about the attack on the Semiramis InterContinental Hotel. But what's happening is the Egyptian people are trying to dislodge the entrenched, repressive Mubarak-holdover police that control the Interior Ministry. Describing the citizenry's battle against the cops in the Suez Canal city of Port Said, Kirkpatrick illuminates us as to the politics involved:
Defending their stations, the police fought back, and in Cairo they battled their own commander, the interior minister.
Brotherhood leaders say Mr. Morsi has been afraid to name an outsider as minister for fear of a police revolt, putting off any meaningful reform of the Mubarak security services. But when Mr. Morsi recently tapped a veteran ministry official, Mohamed Ibrahim, for the job, many in the security services complained that even the appointment of one insider to replace another was undue interference.
In a measure of the low level of the new government’s top-down control over the security forces, officers even cursed and chased away their new interior minister when he tried to attend a funeral on Friday for two members of the security forces killed in the recent clashes.
“What do you mean we won’t be armed? We would be disarmed to die,” one shouted, on a video recording of the event.
In an attempt to placate the rank and file, Mr. Ibrahim issued a statement to police personnel sympathizing with the pressure the protests put on them. Later, he promised them sophisticated weapons.
“That can only be a recipe for future bloodshed,” said Hossam Bahgat, executive director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, which monitors police abuses.Minus an intervention by the military the war between citizens and the police will continue. So far the military is biding its time. Its calculation is when to risk becoming the target of the Revolution.