News / Middle East

Chaotic Clashes in Cairo Deepen Uncertainty Over Egypt's Future

Supporters of President Hosni Mubarak fight with anti-Mubarak protesters in Cairo, February 2, 2011
Supporters of President Hosni Mubarak fight with anti-Mubarak protesters in Cairo, February 2, 2011

Protests in Cairo raged on deep into the night as supporters of President Hosni Mubarak and those calling on him to step down continued to clash violently in the streets near Tahrir Square, killing three people and leaving more than 600 injured. The sudden shift from a largely peaceful push to remove Mr. Mubarak from office to chaotic clashes in the street has deepened uncertainty about what will come next for Egypt.

President Hosni Mubarak's announcement that he will not run again for office has done little to squelch the cries from the public for him to step down immediately. Add to that the appearance Wednesday of pro-Mubarak supporters and violent clashes in the streets, and it has become increasingly difficult to predict what will happen next.

Larry Goodson is a professor of Middle East Studies at the U.S. Army War College:

"I think what he’s [Mr. Mubarak] trying to do is brandish a stick along with this carrot that he’s already put out there," said Goodson. "From his point of view, naturally, it’s very reasonable. Now from the protesters’ point of view - and the history of these things in different places is very clear - that once a regime starts to crack, the protesters are all over it. They're like sharks when blood is in the water. Then they really want to push him out."

Isobel Coleman, a senior fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations, says the sooner there is a move toward a transitional government in Egypt the better.

"I think that at this point, the protesters really will accept nothing less than Mubarak himself stepping down and assurances that he and his son are both out of the running and some type of process, that is delineated, to get from where they are now to more free and fair elections," said Coleman.

Chaos engulfed Cairo on Wednesday as protesters battled with stones, fists and clubs. Fires set off by Molotov cocktails burned at various locations late into the night. Although the military and police largely stood aside, army vehicles were seen trying to separate the rival demonstrators.

Ed Husain, who is also a senior fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations, says he fears things will only get worse in Egypt before they get better.

"[Not] just today's developments, but also tomorrow's developments and I think more worringly, if the current trend continues, what will happen on Friday after Friday prayers when millions will gather from across the country, across Cairo indeed and then come out mosques," said Husain.

And yet, if and when the situation is resolved, and if protesters get what they are demanding, it is still very unclear what will come after that.

"Even if we have a change of the president of Egypt. Right at this point it doesn't look like there is going to be a total regime change," said Scott Stewart.

Stewart is the vice president for tactical intelligence at the private intelligence firm Stratfor. He says that while we have yet to see the military flex its muscle, it is working to ensure that it maintains its grip on control.

"The military is still going to maintain its position of influence and power," he said. "And really economic power, they have a considerable amount of economic power there in Egypt as well. So at this point, it doesn't look like the military is going to relinquish that control and it seems like they've been holding back at times in order to put pressure on Mubarak to step down."

Some Middle East analysts argue that at present, the two best organized groups in Egypt are the military and the Muslim Brotherhood. The situation with Egypt's very broad-based opposition movement is less clear.

Isobel Coleman says that with the opposition, there is no one who really has a big broad national standing.

"I think what you're seeing really, right now, is a bit of a power vacuum, certainly among the opposition," she said. "That makes the unknown all that more worrying."

Some Middle East analysts add that depending on what happens next, it is possible that in the short term, the military itself may become the ultimate arbitrator in Egypt to help it remain a secular Arab state.

You May Like

Video Analysts: Beijing Parade a 'Bazaar' of Stolen Technology

Show commemorating victory over Japan in World War II involved long, medium and short range missiles, a range of tanks and 200 fighter aircraft More

Bernie Sanders Surge Reflects US Shift on Socialism

Although most analysts say it is unlikely he will get the Democratic nomination, Sanders' campaign opens up questions and issues that are otherwise marginalized More

Video On IS Frontline, Kurdish Fighters Ready for Offensive

Peshmerga soldiers say although they need more heavy artillery, they are poised to take the fight to the Islamic State extremists on their turf More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs