Socialist Worker

Egypt: Disbelief and fury on the streets

by Anne Alexander
Issue No. 2238

The Egyptian revolution is entering a new phase today (Friday).

Mubarak's speech last night—after the leaked rumour of his resignation—was greeted with disbelief and fury across the country.

People are already describing him as the “deposed president”, and reports are flooding in of huge demonstrations gathering in Alexandria, Mahalla, and other towns and cities.

Tahrir Square is packed to overflowing, and thousands of protestors have moved to encircle the Presidential Palace and the state TV building along the Nile.

The army has now decisively entered the political arena.

Commanders met yesterday for hours and issued a statement saying they would act to keep Egypt secure.

This morning it became clearer what this means. An announcement in the name of the Higher Military Council—essentially the heads of the various armed forces—has promised to end the state of emergency, “as soon as circumstances permit,” and introduce free elections for the presidency following constitutional reforms.

Protestors in Tahrir are still listening to the Friday sermon, but early reactions from activists in the Square were to condemn the army's promises as not going far enough.

“Our demands are quite clear,” a spokesman for the Youth Coalition of the Revolution of Anger told Al Jazeera, “we want an end to the entire regime”.

There were glimpses last night of the pressure building up on the army from below. Tahrir Square was home to extraordinary scenes as a junior officer, still in uniform told the crowds that he had handed back his weapons and joined the people's revolution.

“Go, go, go! Thirty years is enough,” he shouted to Mubarak, before rounding on Suleiman and Tantawi, the chief of the armed forces saying, “In twenty years, what have you ever done for Egypt. Enough is enough.”

Everything hangs in the balance.

The army leadership have made a direct appeal to people to clear the streets and end the revolution. But what happens if the protests continue—will the soldiers shoot, or will they join the demonstrators? The next move is with the millions on the streets.

Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.