Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Things I see and don't see

I was downtown today for this first time this week. The first time since the military fired on demonstrators over the weekend. And the first since the remaining protestors were cleared out again. There were some small groups of people on the streets around the midan, but not many. And there were military police in the square who seemed to be doing two things—helping direct traffic and making themselves visible. They were wearing uniforms with bright red armbands and bright red berets, and they were in groups and could be readily identified from a distance. The streets had been shut down by the military earlier in the week, and it seems like the military wanted to clear everyone and everything out before the end of the week so that there was not momentum coming into the weekend.

And in other news, there was the announcement of the detention of Mubarak and sons for questioning for 15 days. The sons, and their cronies, are being held at the Tura prison which is near where I live (and which I blogged about a few months ago). The former president appears to be essentially under house arrest in Sharm.

I am not entirely sure if there is a connection between the military attacks on protestors and the high-level arrests, but it does often seem to be the case that something terribly demoralizing (and in this case tragic) is offset by something encouraging. I am not sure if this is part of a well-rehearsed script, but it does occasionally feel that way. Then again, there is not a lot of evidence that the military is particularly well-organized in its role as the country’s rulers...

I love seeing dictators held to account for their crimes almost as much as I like seeing activists in the streets (and treated respectfully by the state security authorities, whoever they might be at the moment).

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