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
William Ide

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 Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers 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.
Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Imagei
X
Marthe van der Wolf
March 03, 2015 9:03 PM
Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More