Saturday, February 5, 2011

Who will the Military choose - President or People?

There is no doubt today that Egypt's army is responsible for letting the clashes and violence on the streets accelerate as they watched as muted spectators the bloodshed and gross human rights violations taking place everywhere in Egypt.

But this is not knew, its only that the world can now watch it live during the protests and through various messages coming out of Egypt on twitter and face-book. While the anti Mubarak protests have largely been peaceful, violence only erupted when the pro Mubarak gang took to the streets sheltered behind the army tanks. Lives were lost and fear spread, yet the protests continue.

Earlier when the military refused to use force on protesters, it seemed like they deserted Mubarak yet when they refused to intervene when the pro Mubarak gang clashed with the protesters, they sent mixed signals. The military yet refuses to take sides but they are the most important factor in determining where Egypt is moving.

Mubark ensured that his deputy and prime minister were both military personnel and has surrounded himself with armed forces personnel in the cabinet and other positions of power. The military could be hesitant to remove one of their own - Mubarak who served them as a commander longer than as a President- from power, yet they would still like to maintain their image of the protector of the Egyptians and want the public to respect them.

The next course of action depends entirely on which way the military moves and it seems the Obama administration is in talk with them to find a possible solution for a transitional government so that Mubarak maybe forced to step down now with as much dignity as possible. 

Even the Iranian Army Lieutenant Commander General Seyed Abdolrahim Mousavi urged the Egyptian army to deflect to the protesters side and bring an end to Mubarak's rule.

Yemen, now bracing itself for similar protests, is learning from Egypt's lessons. Even though as a pre-emptive measure President Ali Abdullah Saleh promised not to re-contest elections, people have lost faith in him to conduct fair elections and bring political reforms.

Saleh's relatives hold high profile positions in the security forces, own major businesses and land holdings, making them highly powerful and influential. If similar protests broke out on the streets of Sana'a, the army could stand against the people. There could be not just another Tahrir square violence but a Tiananmen Square massacre. 

It comes as no surprise that leaders of the opposition have called on Saleh to sack his son Ahmed Ali from the leadership of the republican guards and other relatives that occupy high positions in security and military forces in Yemen.

Just like every president used the military to strengthen its power; the people too have realized that in order to bring down the president, it is important to have the military on their side. All eyes are on Egypt to see who the military chooses.

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