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Middle East Protests Continue for Unmet Demands

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Middle East Protests Continue for Unmet Demands - by Stephen Lendman

So far, weeks of regional protests achieved nothing. Despite ousting Egypt's Mubarak and Tunisia's Ben Ali, their regimes remain in place, offering nothing but unfulfilled promises.

On February 26, Egyptians again protested in Tahrir Square. This time, however, military forces confronted them, Reuters headlining, "Egypt military angers protesters with show of force," saying:

"Soldiers used force on Saturday to break up a protest demanding more political reform in Egypt, demonstrators said, in the toughest move yet against opposition activists who accused the country's military rulers of 'betraying the people.' "

New York Times writer Liam Stack headlined, "Egyptian Military Forces End to New Protest," saying:

"Tens of thousands of protesters returned Friday to Tahrir Square....to keep up the pressure on Egypt's military-led transitional government."

Violence followed, including beatings, use of tasers, and live firing in the air, threatening perhaps harsher action if protests continue. Al Jazeera said:

"Protesters left the main (square) but many had gathered in surrounding streets....Witnesses said they saw several protesters fall to the ground, but it was not clear if they were wounded or how seriously."

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Participant Ashraf Omar said:

"I am one of the thousands of people who stood their ground after the army started dispersing the protesters, shooting live bullets into the air to scare them."

He said soldiers wore black masks to avoid being identified. Military buses were used for those arrested. It's "a cat-and-mouse chase.There is no more unity between the people and the army."

In fact, there never was, only the illusion that unsympathetic generals were populists at heart. In fact, they've been regime hard-liners for decades, rewarded handsomely for backing state repression. 

"They were using tasers and (batons) to beat us without any control," said Omar. "I thought things would change. I wanted to give the government a chance, but there is no hope with this regime. There is no use. I am back on the street. I either live with dignity or I die here."

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Egyptians want the military junta-led government to resign and immediately release all political prisoners. They're outraged by no reforms, and because Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq reshuffled his cabinet, leaving Mubarak cronies in power.

As a result, battle lines are again drawn. "Counterrevolution" comments are heard, protesters chanting: 

"We do not want Shafiq any more, even if they shoot us with bullets....Revolution until victory, revolution against Shafiq and the palace....We won't leave! He will go!" This isn't "what hundreds of people died (for). Shafiq is a student of Mubarak. We have demanded a new beginning, and (he's) not part of it. We refuse him."

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.

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