Monday, 31 January 2011

Egypt - The world is watching

A sense of the spirit – and the danger - of the Egyptian revolution could be found in Robert Fisk’s report in the Independent yesterday.

On the one hand, the people are embracing the army:

When a long line of troops assembled across the road, a very old, hunch-backed man sought and gained permission to approach them. I followed him as he embraced the lieutenant and kissed him on both cheeks and said: "You are our sons. We are your people." And then he walked down the row of troops and kissed each one and embraced each one and told each one that he was his son. You need a heart of stone not to be moved by such scenes and yesterday was replete with them.

On the other hand, no-one knows what is taking place behind the scenes, or what the escalation of the military presence on the streets really means:

The old lady in the red scarf was standing inches from the front of an American-made M1 Abrams tank of the Egyptian Third Army, right on the edge of Tahrir Square. Its soldiers were paratroops, some in red berets, others in helmets, gun barrels pointed across the square, heavy machine guns mounted on the turrets. "If they fire on the Egyptian people, Mubarak is finished," she said. "And if they don't fire on the Egyptian people, Mubarak is finished." Of such wisdom are Egyptians now possessed”

It is clear, though, that only the fall of Mubarak and his regime can now satisfy the Egyptian people. Calls have gone out for a general strike and for a million-strong march in Cairo tomorrow. The world is watching. And the world will need to act if there is any attempt to drown this uprising in blood.