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The Showdown in Cairo!

Tomorrow the Egyptian people will go to the streets en masse to give the final blow to the regime.  The people are talking of a rally of millions, and people have been pouring into Midan Atahrir, Tahrir Square, today and heading towards Cairo from the provinces.  The regime closed all the roads and stopped the train traffic in a desperate move, hoping to abort the rally.  It is my conviction that tomorrow might be the final day of Mubarak in power.  If the rally succeeds, and he decides to stay in power, I think this revolution will turn violent.

The youth who are the initiators of this revolution and its main protagonists are not interested in the poor signs of understanding that the regime is emitting, whether through the army or the political elite.  They feel they are insulting and patronizing, reminiscent of Ben Ali’s famous “I understood you” speech.  The youth also did not give any mandate to the opposition to represent them, not ElBaradei, not the Muslims Brotherhood; no one can negotiate in their name.  At least not before Mubarak leaves.  The demand to decapitate the regime is non-negotiable.

Revolutionary awareness is shaping up into a structure and a platform, and it is all coming down to ousting Mubarak and putting him and his goons on trial.

The Americans seem to be getting this vibe.  They want to play wait and see.  According to some observers, they want to avoid playing the same dumb hand as during the Iranian revolution in 1979 when they supported the dictator till the bitter end only to win the animosity of the people and the new regime.  Now they are trying to go along with the popular impulse without really burning the bridges with Mubarak.  The Israelis are strongly lobbying against this policy and trying to convince the Americans that an Egypt without Mubarak is an enemy by definition.  I believe they are right in that, and I am glad to say that.

Regardless, and as I already said, this revolution, which is a real Arab revolution that started in Tunisia, spread to Egypt, and will spread to other Arab countries still, is about the agenda of the Arab people, and that agenda is about democracy and dignity and liberation.  That revolution has its own dynamic, its own logic, and its own power.  It will not stop; it is a historic earthquake that will reshape not only the Arab map, but the map of the entire world.

For all these reasons, tomorrow is the real showdown, the show of force between the revolution and its enemies.  If the mobilization fails, the revolutionary tide could be contained, albeit for a little while.  But if the mobilization succeeds in bringing even half a million people to the streets of Cairo, it will set a snowball on the move that cannot be stopped.


Dyab Abou Jahjah is founder and former president of the Arab European League.  This article was first published in his blog Abou Jahjah Comments on 31 January 2011; it is reproduced here for non-profit educational purposes.




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