February 2011 archive

Mubarak’s Egypt NO MORE

Today, the people were more resolved than ever to get rid of Hosny Mubarak, especially after last night's provocative statement. I went to the presidential palaces alongside thousands of Egyptians and we surrounded it completely. Within a couple of hours we received the news: MUBARAK HAD ABDICATED!

Now, mind you, he didn't really abdicate..the army overthrew him. That's why we only had Omar Suleiman letting us know this. But it doesn't matter. We will get all the money they stole and use it to rebuild the country.

Tonight will be the first night where I go to bed and don't have to worry about state security hunting me down, or about government goons sent to kidnap me; or about government sponsored hackers attacking my website. Tonight, for the first time ever, I feel free…and it is awesome! :)

Save any and all disagreements with any of the groups that operate them. We will disagree with each other, and that will be sweet because no more dictatorship. Tomorrow we squabble,and…tonite?

TONIGHT WE CELEBRATE! :)

 FUCK OFF MUBARAK..I HOPE YOU BURN IN HELL! :)

Mubarak’s gamble

Earlier yesterday, I spoke to Wael Ghonim and he told me to expect some very good news around 5 pm that night, but he never elaborated what it is. Around 10 am, we heard that Saudi Arabia, alongside UAE and Kuwait, are creating an aid package to Egypt to possibly replace that of the US. Around 4 pm last night, we recieved the news that the President itends to step down tonight and give all of his responsbilities to the VP, Omar Suleiman. The Army then convened and issued its first statement, in a meeting without Mubarak or his VP around 5 pm. Around 9 pm Egypt time, Obama did a speech congratulating the people of Egypt for their march for democracy, so it seemed like a done deal. Finally, an hour later than originally announced, President Hosny Mubarak , against all expectations and information, refused to step down from his post, and said that he refuses any foreign interference in Egypt.  The White House then announced that it has been double-crossed by the Egyptian regime.

 Now, what does this all mean?

Well, 4 main things:

1) Mubarak is not going to leave Office without bloodshed. Any attempt for a peaceful exit has been discarded by his regime, and they are intending to fight the will of the people until the end.

2) Mubarak has burned the image of Hossam Badrawy and the Wisemen council with his speech. Hossam Badrawy, the secretary general of the NDP, was the face of the NDP that announced Mubarak's intenetion to abdicate power later tonight. Now the man has no credibility. Same goes for the Wiseman Council, since Mubarak's speech was focused on how he has met their demands, which don't include him leaving. If most of them don't quit their posts today, I would be greatly surprised.

3) We are seeing the first possible split in the power structure in Egypt: It seems that the Armed forces are in one camp, and the president, intelligence agencies and the republican guard in another camp. If you add to the equation the Ministery of Interior and the protesters, you have 4 players right now in an intensely unpredictable power struggle. We are now awaiting the second statement from the High council of amred forces to clearify their position once and for all. Whether the Army is with or against the people will determine a lot of today's outcome.

4) Mubarak has now put the US in a corner: He double-crossed the White House, and announced his intentions to fight foriegn intervention. Adding to that the news of the arab aid, he is sending the US a clear message: "I could tell you and your aid to go to hell, and get the money from the arabs instead. Where does this leave your precious Israel? If you don't want us to cause problems on that front,  you better shut up about what we will do and get with the program, or else!"

If you take all of those factors into consideration, the situation starts looking intensely ominous. If the regime and the army has split, we could see major fighting and bloodshed today. If the Army is with the President, then they will all turn their guns on the Protesters, who are determined not to live under Mubarak rule for one extra day. It also means that he put on the line the future of the transitional government with Omar Suleiman in charge, because Suleiman's fate seems intensely intertwined with the President now. This has become a fight for survival: it's either the regime or the people. The bad news is, the regime has all the weapon and organization. The good news is, the people are determined and increasing in numbers and the army might step in and save us all unnecessary bloodshed.

It all depends on the army's statement now.

The wait is killing me. 

The Way Forward

Today started with two very important facts: 1) The Mass resignation of important Mubarak regime figures from their posts in the Ruling National Democratic Party, including his longtime crony Safwat ElSherif and his own son Gamal Mubarak ; 2) The number of people who called me asking what the next move for the Tahrir Protesters will be and were disappointed by the lack of a clear way forward to the movement. They feared the protests would lose momentum and this historic moment would slowly dwindle and die.

Now, I am not a leader of this movement, and god knows I would be loathe to name myself as a spokesperson for the 5 million individuals nationwide who have joined these protests. If anything, I am simply a promoter and a participant who is way too proud of the fact that this is a movement with no leaders or representatives. In many ways this has helped the cohesion and unity of those protests: people agreed on a set of demands that promote general democracy, accountability and freedom. Demands that promote self-governing and personal rights no matter what your ideological leanings may be. We thought that was enough, and now we are thinking it might not be after all.

If we are to assess the successes of the movement so far, there have been a few key victories, but not any truly major ones. Mubarak says he won’t run again, but he won’t step down. Mubarak will change the constitution but will use the same parliament that has election fraud indictment tarring over 85% of its members. Even with today’s news, what the NDP did so far has been more cosmetic than actual change. We shouldn’t be appeased by it. Mubarak is still President, Emergency law is still in effect, the parliament hasn’t been dissolved, new elections haven’t been called for and the constitution is still that flexible document that the ruling party can change whenever they see fit. Even though we appear to be winning, we are not by a long shot.

Now, regarding the way forward, so far we seem to have two options on the table : 1) For the Jan 25 protests to remain as is: anarchic yet goal-oriented; & 2) the Wisemen’s council , which is currently being promoted as the third option between the Government’s Stubbornness and the Protesters unyielding persistence . They are gaining traction amongst those who do need leaders to represent their views and negotiate with the government, and their proposal is worth considering. The problem with the Wisemen’s council as a third option is this: while it is respectable and contains prominent Egyptian leaders and businessmen, I am not sure what leverage they got on either side or if either side would accept it as a mediating force.

That being said, the status quo just won’t due. This lack of action and organization will be used against us (the protesters) in every way possible. The participants will start complaining about the lack of direction or movement leaders. The government will start complaining that the protesters haven’t offered a single person to represent them and negotiate with the government for them, and that the protesters don’t know what they want. Mind you, this is utter rubbish: It’s not that the protesters don’t know what they want (you can read about their demands everywhere), it’s that their demands are so nonnegotiable for them, that it makes no sense for them to engage in negotiations until a number of those demands get realized. Thus, Gridlock!

So here are my two cents: next time when you head to Tahrir, alongside blankets and food and medicine, please get some foldable tables, chairs, papers, pens, a laptop and a USB connection. Set up a bunch of tables and start registering the protesters. Get their names, ages, addresses & districts. Based on location, start organizing them into committees, and then have those committees elect leaders or representatives. Do the same in Alex, In Mansoura, in Suez, in every major Egyptian city in which the Protesters braved police suppression and came out in the thousands. Protect the Data with your life. Get encryption programs to ensure the security of the data. Use web-based tools like Google documents to input the data in, thus ensuring that even if your laptops get confiscated by State Security Goons, they won’t find anything on your harddrives. Have people outside of Egypt back-up your data daily on secure servers. Then, start building the structure.

You see, with such Proper citizen organization and segmentation, we’ll have the contact information and location of all the protesters that showed up, and that could be transformed into voting blocks in parliamentary districts: i.e. a foundation for an Egyptian Unity party. That Egyptian Unity Party will be an Umbrella party that promotes equality, democracy & accountability, without any ideological slants. It should be centrist, because we don’t want any boring Left vs. Right squabbling at that stage. Once you institute the structure, start educating the members on their rights and their obligations as citizens. Convince them to bring their friends and relatives into meeting. Establish voters’ critical mass , all under that party.

The Egyptian Unity Party, however, will not be a permanent structure, but rather a transitional entity with a clear and direct purpose: create the grassroots organization to take back the parliament and presidency in the next elections. Once sufficient votes and seats have been obtained, the party will amend the constitution to promote civil liberties, plurality, and truly democratic elections. Once that constitution is in place, the party can disband, and its elected members can start forming their own parties and collations, based on their personal beliefs and ideologies, or they can join any of the existing parties, and breathe some life into their decaying carcasses. We will end up with an actual political process and representative political parties that will actually discuss policy and have to represent those who voted for them so that they can get re-elected. Democracy in action. An old but brilliant concept. A way to ensure that no matter what, we will have a huge influence on who becomes the next Egyptian President come election day in September.

I am extremely hopeful we can do this. So far we have proved all the critics and the haters wrong. It’s time to do that again!

Egypt, right now!

I don't know how to start writing this. I have been battling fatigue for not sleeping properly for the past 10 days, moving from one's friend house to another friend's house, almost never spending a night in my home, facing a very well funded and well organized ruthless regime that views me as nothing but an annoying bug that its time to squash will come. The situation here is bleak to say the least.

It didn't start out that way. On Tuesday Jan 25 it all started peacefully, and against all odds, we succeeded to gather hundreds of thousands and get them into Tahrir Square, despite being attacked by Anti-Riot Police who are using sticks, tear gas and rubber bullets against us. We managed to break all of their barricades and situated ourselves in Tahrir. The government responded by shutting down all cell communication in Tahrir square, a move which purpose was understood later when after midnight they went in with all of their might and attacked the protesters and evacuated the Square. The next day we were back at it again, and the day after. Then came Friday and we braved their communication blackout, their thugs, their tear gas and their bullets and we retook the square. We have been fighting to keep it ever since.

That night the government announced a military curfew, which kept getting shorter by the day, until it became from 8 am to 3 pm. People couldn't go to work, gas was running out quickly and so were essential goods and money, since the banks were not allowed to operate and people were not able to collect their salary. The internet continued to be blocked, which affected all businesses in Egypt and will cause an economic meltdown the moment they allow the banks to operate again. We were being collectively punished for daring to say that we deserve democracy and rights, and to keep it up, they withdrew the police, and then sent them out dressed as civilians to terrorize our neighborhoods. I was shot at twice that day, one of which with a semi-automatic by a dude in a car that we the people took joy in pummeling. The government announced that all prisons were breached, and that the prisoners somehow managed to get weapons and do nothing but randomly attack people. One day we had organized thugs in uniforms firing at us and the next day they disappeared and were replaced by organized thugs without uniforms firing at us. Somehow the people never made the connection.

Despite it all, we braved it. We believed we are doing what's right and were encouraged by all those around us who couldn't believe what was happening to their country. What he did galvanized the people, and on Tuesday, despite shutting down all major roads leading into Cairo, we managed to get over 2 million protesters in Cairo alone and 3 million all over Egypt to come out and demand Mubarak's departure. Those are people who stood up to the regime's ruthlessness and anger and declared that they were free, and were refusing to live in the Mubarak dictatorship for one more day. That night, he showed up on TV, and gave a very emotional speech about how he intends to step down at the end of his term and how he wants to die in Egypt, the country he loved and served. To me, and to everyone else at the protests this wasn't nearly enough, for we wanted him gone now. Others started asking that we give him a chance, and that change takes time and other such poppycock. Hell, some people and family members cried when they saw his speech. People felt sorry for him for failing to be our dictator for the rest of his life and inheriting us to his Son. It was an amalgam of Stockholm syndrome coupled with slave mentality in a malevolent combination that we never saw before. And the Regime capitalized on it today.

Today, they brought back the internet, and started having people calling on TV and writing on facebook on how they support Mubarak and his call for stability and peacefull change in 8 months. They hung on to the words of the newly appointed government would never harm the protesters, whom they believe to be good patriotic youth who have a few bad apples amongst them. We started getting calls asking people to stop protesting because "we got what we wanted" and "we need the country to start working again". People were complaining that they miss their lives. That they miss going out at night, and ordering Home Delivery. That they need us to stop so they can resume whatever existence they had before all of this. All was forgiven, the past week never happened and it's time for Unity under Mubarak's rule right now.

To all of those people I say: NEVER! I am sorry that your lives and businesses are disrupted, but this wasn't caused by the Protesters. The Protesters aren't the ones who shut down the internet that has paralyzed your businesses and banks: The government did. The Protesters weren't the ones who initiated the military curfew that limited your movement and allowed goods to disappear off market shelves and gas to disappear: The government did. The Protesters weren't the ones who ordered the police to withdraw and claimed the prisons were breached and unleashed thugs that terrorized your neighborhoods: The government did. The same government that you wish to give a second chance to, as if 30 years of dictatorship and utter failure in every sector of government wasn't enough for you. The Slaves were ready to forgive their master, and blame his cruelty on those who dared to defy him in order to ensure a better Egypt for all of its citizens and their children. After all, he gave us his word, and it's not like he ever broke his promises for reform before or anything.

Then Mubarak made his move and showed them what useful idiots they all were.

You watched on TV as "Pro-Mubarak Protesters" – thugs who were paid money by NDP members by admission of High NDP officials- started attacking the peaceful unarmed protesters in Tahrir square. They attacked them with sticks, threw stones at them, brought in men riding horses and camels- in what must be the most surreal scene ever shown on TV- and carrying whips to beat up the protesters. And then the Bullets started getting fired and Molotov cocktails started getting thrown at the Anti-Mubarak Protesters as the Army standing idly by, allowing it all to happen and not doing anything about it. Dozens were killed, hundreds injured, and there was no help sent by ambulances. The Police never showed up to stop those attacking because the ones who were captured by the Anti-mubarak people had police ID's on them. They were the police and they were there to shoot and kill people and even tried to set the Egyptian Museum on Fire. The Aim was clear: Use the clashes as pretext to ban such demonstrations under pretexts of concern for public safety and order, and to prevent disunity amongst the people of Egypt. But their plans ultimately failed, by those resilient brave souls who wouldn't give up the ground they freed of Egypt, no matter how many live bullets or firebombs were hurled at them. They know, like we all do, that this regime no longer cares to put on a moderate mask. That they have shown their true nature. That Mubarak will never step down, and that he would rather burn Egypt to the ground than even contemplate that possibility.

In the meantime, State-owned and affiliated TV channels were showing coverage of Peaceful Mubarak Protests all over Egypt and showing recorded footage of Tahrir Square protest from the night before and claiming it's the situation there at the moment. Hundreds of calls by public figures and actors started calling the channels saying that they are with Mubarak, and that he is our Father and we should support him on the road to democracy. A veiled girl with a blurred face went on Mehwer TV claiming to have received funding by Americans to go to the US and took courses on how to bring down the Egyptian government through protests which were taught by Jews. She claimed that AlJazeera is lying, and that the only people in Tahrir square now were Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. State TV started issuing statements on how the people arrested Israelis all over Cairo engaged in creating mayhem and causing chaos. For those of you who are counting this is an American-Israeli-Qatari-Muslim Brotherhood-Iranian-Hamas conspiracy. Imagine that. And MANY PEOPLE BOUGHT IT. I recall telling a friend of mine that the only good thing about what happened today was that it made clear to us who were the idiots amongst our friends. Now we know.

Now, just in case this isn't clear: This protest is not one made or sustained by the Muslim Brotherhood, it's one that had people from all social classes and religious background in Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood only showed up on Tuesday, and even then they were not the majority of people there by a long shot. We tolerated them there since we won't say no to fellow Egyptians who wanted to stand with us, but neither the Muslims Brotherhood not any of the Opposition leaders have the ability to turn out one tenth of the numbers of Protesters that were in Tahrir on Tuesday. This is a revolution without leaders. Three Million individuals choosing hope instead of fear and braving death on hourly basis to keep their dream of freedom alive. Imagine that.

The End is near. I have no illusions about this regime or its leader, and how he will pluck us and hunt us down one by one till we are over and done with and 8 months from now will pay people to stage fake protests urging him not to leave power, and he will stay "because he has to acquiesce to the voice of the people". This is a losing battle and they have all the weapons, but we will continue fighting until we can't. I am heading to Tahrir right now with supplies for the hundreds injured, knowing that today the attacks will intensify, because they can't allow us to stay there come Friday, which is supposed to be the game changer. We are bringing everybody out, and we will refuse to be anything else than peaceful. If you are in Egypt, I am calling on all of you to head down to Tahrir today and Friday. It is imperative to show them that the battle for the soul of Egypt isn't over and done with. I am calling you to bring your friends, to bring medical supplies, to go and see what Mubarak's gurantees look like in real life. Egypt needs you. Be Heroes.