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The Headless Horsemen of Tahrir Square

By       Message WILLIAM FISHER     Permalink
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Police brutality, deaths in detention, torture at police stations, and unbridled corruption -" this described the reputation of the police held by virtually all Egyptians, except those with the means to buy themselves out of trouble.


The Army commands great respect from the people of Egypt -" after all, it fought three wars on their behalf (and, according to Egyptian propaganda, was victorious in all three).


So when the tanks rolled into Cairo over the weekend and parked on The Corniche, the wide-sidewalked road running long the Nile in one of the city's upscale business districts, their crews were treated with shouts of welcome and handshakes. Indeed, some news reports said some of the soldiers were transparently in favor of the protesters.


When if ever the Army will receive orders to use force, and what form that force may take, the unanswered question is whether the troops are ready to carry out such orders.


Also over the weekend, the pan-Arab broadcaster Al-Jazeera said on Sunday that Egyptian authorities ordered its Cairo news bureau shuttered. The popular channel condemned the move as an attempt to "stifle and repress" open reporting.


The U.S. Embassy in Cairo asked Americans in Egypt to consider leaving the country as soon as possible. This suggestion was for Embassy personnel as well as tourists.


Israel's Benyamin Netanyahu urged restraint. He told his Cabinet on Sunday that he is "anxiously following" the crisis in Egypt. In his first public comment on the situation, he said that one of the key factors was Israel's 30-year-old peace agreement with Egypt.


Unrest in Egypt begin creating gas shortages and interrupting the smuggling of gasoline to the Gaza Strip. This triggered panic buying by drivers afraid of the complete depletion of the local supply.  


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William Fisher has managed economic development programs in the Middle East and elsewhere for the US State Department and the US Agency for International Development. He served in the international affairs area in the Kennedy Administration and now (more...)

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