The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

The army and the people

Going around central Cairo today, it strikes me the deployment of the army is quite meager considering the circumstances. The crowds are very pro-army, I filmed an amazing moment when a charismatic one-star general addressed the public and spoke of the importance of maintaining public order. People kept shouting, are you with or against Mubarak? He answered that his mission is making sure the looting stops, and that the issue of who governs if the people's decision, not the army's, and that government should be civilian.

Of course there is mounting tension and uncertainty about where the army stands. There are so few tanks (maybe 20-30) and personnel around Midan Tahrir that I feel they could easily be overwhelmed.

A lot of reports of looting and attacks on civilians by mobs. The Carrefour supermarket in Maadi is burning and looters have been shot by the army. Tonight might be dangerous in areas.

Again, that being said, the vast, vast majority of protestors are peaceful people, mostly middle class, and they are showing great solidarity. People are still defending the Egyptian Museum. Volunteers are cleaning the streets and helping fireman. There is a great sense of civic duty out there, and great sadness at the looting and crime (which is being mostly blamed on police and baltaguia).  

There is an unconfirmed rumor that police is expected back within the hour, and the curfew has been moved to 4pm. I will probably not have internet access after this.

P.S. Al Ahram's headline today was "Government dismissed" - I suppose they are still trying to salvage this. Personally I think if Mubarak does not go soon we will see much more violence.

P.P.S. Last night it appeared the Republican Guard had taken control of key buildings. It's now the regular army, according to several officers.