Sunday, November 20, 2011

They brought down an autocrat; can they bring down a military? (2x UPDATED)

2nd UPDATE: 7:35 p.m. EST: The death toll is sure to grow in the coming hours and perhaps days, with there being little sign in the let up in the intensity of the protests. It appears that at least 13 people are dead, as the BBC reports.
Thousands of Egyptian protesters remain in Cairo's Tahrir Square after two days of clashes in which at least 13 people were killed and hundreds injured.
On Sunday, police and troops made a violent attempt to evict the demonstrators, firing tear gas and beating them with truncheons.
However, the protesters returned less than an hour later, chanting slogans against Egypt's military rulers.
The European Union said it condemned the violence "in the strongest terms".
There were also clashes in other cities including Alexandria, Suez and Aswan.
A key member of the European Union also has weighed in on the crisis. Catherine Ashton, the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, released the following statement (which I quote in full);
"I am extremely concerned at the riots and violent clashes witnessed in Egypt, notably in Tahrir square over the weekend. I deplore the loss of life and the many injuries and express my solidarity with the families of the victims.
I urge calm and restraint and condemn the use of violence in the strongest terms. There is no doubt that the transitional process is a difficult and challenging one. I have expressed my concern in the past about the emergency law and the ongoing military trials. I reiterate that the interim authorities and all parties concerned have the crucial task of listening to the people and protecting their democratic aspirations.
Law and order must be ensured in a manner respectful of human rights. Citizens and political parties' demands that the transition moves forward and safeguards the principles of democracy must be listened to.
As Egypt prepares to go to the polls, in its first democratic and transparent elections, I remain confident that the Egyptian people and the authorities will find the way to move peacefully forward and succeed in overcoming the challenges."
1st UPDATE: 5:33 p.m. EST: Al-Arabiya sends the following tweet: : Egypt’s Health Ministry: 10 killed, 214 wounded in Cairo’s Tahrir clashes

ORIGINAL POST: Egyptian protesters set in motion the Arab Spring (and, yes, I realize that the protests began in Tunisia). Now, they might be attempting to usher in an Arab Fall.

As the New York Times reports, people are again taking to Tahrir Square, and this time they want the military leadership of the country to step down.
The military-led government’s attempts to beat back or squash the protests appeared to only redouble their strength. After using tear gas, rubber bullets and birdshot to beat back a day of continuous attacks on the headquarters of the Interior Ministry, hundreds of soldiers and security police in riot gear stormed the square from several directions at once about 5 p.m., raining down rocks and tear gas as they drove thousands of demonstrators out before them.
But after less than half an hour they had retreated, having succeeded only in burning down a few tents in the middle of the square. And after another half an hour, the crowd of protesters had more than doubled, packing the square as ever more demonstrators marched in from all directions, chanting for the end of military rule.
The Voice of America suggests that at least 3 people were killed in today's clashes with the police. (AFP posted this video of the protests.)
Egyptian medics said Sunday a police and army assault on anti-government protesters in Cairo killed at least three people, raising the death toll in two days of unrest to at least five.
At least one politician -- the country's culture minister -- has quit, in response to the military's handling of the crisis.

Reuters adds that the protests are gaining in intensity just as Egyptians are about to head to the polls to elect their parliamentary leaders.

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