Friday, February 11, 2011

Mubarak gone: see, massive protests can undo a regime (that is, when military agree)

So Mubarak is finally gone.  We can all rejoice with noted Egyptian blogger Sandmonkey who has shown to some us in Venezuela the kind of things we may want to get ready for.

Why did Egyptians succeeded today and Venezuelans failed in 2002-2003?  Cheap comparisons are of course ridiculous, and odious.  However oen thing is improtant: the miltiary in Egypt told Mubarak to go whereas in December 2002 Chavez had purged the army enough from the 2002 fiasco that we could not expect much from them, and even less today.

Let's not forget one thing, in countries which are not truly democratic the army eventually decides who stays and goes.  Period.

There are very few countries in the world where we can say that the army has a minor political role and where the civilian government has the upper hand.  These countries are usually recognized because their defense minister has been a civilian for decades, the institutionalism and separation of powers is real and strong, where there can be massive civilian changes in the country orientation without that many people losing sleep over it, where the police is 99% of the time enough to control any form of public protest, etc, etc...  A couple of dozen countries maybe?  I count at most 3 in our hemisphere, with roughly as many on their way to be military-boot free.  Venezuela and Cuba being of course at the very bottom of the barrel.............

So let's rejoice with Sandmonkey that a big step has been taken in Egypt but that tomorrow they will need to start making sure that the army does not simply replace one regime by a carbon copy.


  1. charly11:44 PM

    "they will need to start making sure that the army does not simply replace one regime by a carbon copy."

    They? To paraphrase Stalin, how many divisions do THEY have. THEY already got the short end of the stick. THEY sure will get a carbon copy. Come on, the new strong man is the previous chief torturer. Not to wonder, every Egyptian is a domestic tyrant.

  2. charly

    one thing at a time. we do not know for sure what has happened inside the egypt high ranks and whomever is in charge might be there in the understanding that it is only for a while. once mubee is out all could fall like a "chateau de cartes"

    let's celebrate today that there is such a thing as people power even in arabic countries. tomorrow will be soon enough to start worrying sick.

  3. Anonymous12:22 AM

    <Tunesia, Egipto, mucho que pensar sobre los paises arabes con gobiernos longevos para no decir otra cosa, y Cuba, Bielorusia, Venezuela? digo yo por decir. La Maga Lee

  4. Anonymous6:48 AM

    You ssid it correctly any comparision is odious. Remember it is all about people and opperission of one own country or of its neighbours is not acceptable. The Palesteniens will soon be get rid of apartheid and Egyptions will build a better country. Remember they faced bullets on the ramps of the freeway just as about a decade ago in Caracas, that was inspiration for the Egyptions. The Argentenion people faced disappearnces and today see for youself. One should not mess with the wrath of the people.


  5. To anonymous,
    The Palestinians have a self imposed apartheid. Hamas has taken all freedoms from Gaza not Israel. Israel is not the problem in the Middle East. Arab dicators are the problem.

  6. We have to remember that the people of Venezuela did actually get Chavez out of power, if only for one day.For many reasons the opportunity was lost.

    Apparently some of the same army officers that asked Chavez to step down, invited him back thinking they might be in for a right wing dictatorship which could have landed them in jail for having originally supported Chavez.Also there was no international support.

    One of the big advantages that Chavez has over Mubarak is his ideology of class warfare.This appeals to the basest most primal emotions of the people.It makes it more likely that soldiers would fire on those whom they perceive to be class enemies or at least to be doing their bidding.

    Many of the Egyptian top brass are cronies of Mubarak but didn't want to risk a civil war by ordering the army to fire on the people.

    The efforts of Mubarak did not succeed as he was unable to get large enough counter demonstrations of his supporters going. The best he could do was to have his thugs attack the demonstrators who stood their ground.

    The Egyptian officer core has been trained by US methods which gives them a different attitude to those who have been steeped in years of ' Patria,Socialism o Muerte'.

  7. Daniel,

    While you are correct that "the army eventually decides who stays and goes", you need to apply a bit more context. Armies do not exist in a political and social vacuum. Every soldier has parents, brothers, sisters, wives, lovers, friends, etc. in the civilian world.

    While the leadership of Egypt's army eventually chose to support the protesters and not the regime, you need to consider that they probably had little choice. The protesters had gained so much popular support, that even had the generals given the order to suppress the protesters, the line officers and soldiers probably would not have obeyed in any case.

    The point to be learned from this is that prolonged popular protest can sap the will of the army to such an extent, that as an instrument of power against the people, it becomes powerless. I saw this happen first-hand in Georgia during the Rose Revolution.

  8. 1979 Boat People2:05 AM

    The events in the Middle East must scare the shit out of the Castro regime.

    Cuban political prisoners freed against wishes

  9. 1979 Boat People2:26 AM


    Aisha.Taliban.Afganistan. Human cruelty

  10. I hope even if I am not so optimistic, that Egypt becomes a democracy. It would be nice, but there are many things against it: the fundamentalists, but more importantly the old military and also certain other groups.


    It is more complex than that:
    Islam is definitely with a Middle Age mindset and that weighs very heavily there, but you also had Western countries time after time putting up dictators when democracies were growing up, only because they were too close to the Soviets (without becoming totalitarian). Read a bit of history of Iraq, for instance...preferably, just for a little change, from a non-US author. I recommend Robert Fisk'
    The Great War for Civilisation.

    Both Israelis and Arabs are part of the problem and the solution. Israelis are taking out people from places they have inhabited for hundreds if not thousands of years (most cases the latter) in territory they invaded in 1968 (West Jordan). That has worsened the problems of Gaza, which in itself had to receive refugees after ethnic cleansing of 1948 (which was begun after the Arabs from other countries attacked, etc) and whose people cannot move to the West Bank and hardly anywhere else.

    David Eisenstein from NY has no more rights to get into a flat in East Jerusalem than an Arab whose great-grandparents were living there in their own house in the XIX century. And don't tell me that's anti-Semitic. The Mustafa is probably more semitic (and probably has more "Jewish ancestors") than the red-haired Eisenstein.

  11. Bridge9:07 AM

    Nice HIS comments ....


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