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Kesilapan terbesar Mubarak yg kini akan menyaksikan kejatuhan regimnya

February 2, 2011

Mubarak’s 9 biggest mistakes

Posted By Blake Hounshell Tuesday, February 1, 2011 – 5:27 PM Foreign Policy

As hundreds of thousands of angry protesters mobbed downtown Cairo to denounce his 30-year rule, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak delivered an utterly unapologetic speech Tuesday evening, vowing to safeguard his country’s stability and security while announcing that he would not seek a 6th term.

Defending his record and saying he would “die on Egyptian soil,” Mubarak indicated that he he had no intention of following the example of former Tunisian president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali and fleeing ignominiously into exile.

Almost immediately, the demonstrators in Tahrir Square renewed their calls for his ouster, rejecting his bid to remain in office for another few months. It seems that Mubarak has made yet another mistake, one that may ultimately lead him to share Ben Ali’s fate. So what were his biggest blunders?

1. Failing to spread the wealth. Egypt’s economy as a whole has grown by a respectable amount, but most Egyptians don’t feel they’ve gotten their fair share. Instead, they see wealthy businessman with ties to the ruling National Democratic Party stealing the country’s riches.

2. Allowing corruption to pervade Egyptian life. If there’s  one thing Egyptians complain about, it’s the grand and petty corruption that makes it nearly impossible for anyone in the country to make an honest living. Getting anything done requires a bribe (the infamous baksheesh) and/or connections (wasta), and high-level embezzlement is rampant.

3. The vision thing. Say what you want about Gamal Abdel Nasser and Anwar Sadat, but Mubarak’s two predecessors knew where they wanted to take the country and had a plan for getting there. Nasser wanted to create a pan-Arab union under the banner of socialism and non-alignment, while Sadat sought to regain Egypt’s martial pride before making peace with Israel and joining the West. As for Mubarak, what does he offer Egyptians? Crumbling infrastructure, decaying socio-economic conditions, and utter fealty to the United States.

4. Half-hearted reforms. Egyptians have grown rightly cynical at their-government’s on-again off-again reform efforts, characterized by unpersuasive propaganda or Orwellian doublespeak. When they hear the word “reform,” Egyptians look for the catch, such as the constitutional amendment that more or less bars independent candidates from contesting the presidency.

5. Grooming Gamal. If there’s one thing nearly all Egyptians agree on, it’s that they don’t want to be ruled by Mubarak’s British-educated son. Over the last decade, Gamal played an increasingly visible role in setting domestic policy, tying his fortunes to unpopular liberal economic reforms and wealthy businessmen who are seen as corrupt and out of touch with ordinary Egyptians. Some of the most popular chants at demonstrations in recent years were variants of “No to inheritence!”

6. Underestimating the activists. Clearly, the Interior Ministry and the police were not prepared for the surge of protesters that first hit the streets on January 25. Accustomed to small demonstrations organized by Egypt’s utterly inept, fractious opposition parties, the security forces clearly expected more of the same. But the organizers behind the current uprising are networked, tech-savvy young people who obviously know how to connect with their audience and get the word out. They’re not from the political parties. The police were clearly rocked back on their heels, exhausted, and outmaneuvered last Friday — and that’s when the army had to step in.

7. Cheating too much. In most of the parliamentary contests during his 30 year reign, Mubarak has allowed a token number of seats to go to opposition parties. But in the 2010 elections, the NDP’s rigging got out of control, leaving only a handful of seats for the coopted Wafd Party. The Muslim Brotherhood was shut out, leaving it with no stake in the government and the patronage opportunities that go along with representation in parliament.

8. Sending in the thugs. After the police forces mysteriously dissolved Friday, reports came streaming in of looters attacking people in the streets, breaking into shops and homes, and otherwise intimidating ordinary Egyptians. Many of these thugs were found to be carrying police or state security IDs. If Mubarak’s hope was to drive the middle class back into the loving arms of the state, it seems he badly miscalculated — the protests have only gotten bigger since then.

9. Bringing in his cronies. Despite his Friday speech vowing to enact various unspecified political and constitutional reforms, Mubarak named his spy chief Omar Suleiman his vice president, dumped his cabinet, and named a retired Air Force general as his prime minister. Opposition leaders and analysts rightly interpreted this as a sign of business as usual.

This is hardly an exhaustive list, and I imagine Mubarak will make a few more major mistakes in the days ahead. What do you all think he got wrong?

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Mubarak won’t seek another term; protesters defiant

Obama tells Egyptian president peaceful transition ‘must begin now’

Image: Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on state TV

msnbc-tv

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak tells his nation in a prerecorded speech aired on state TV that he won’t seek re-election but intends to complete his term.
NBC, msnbc.com and news services NBC, msnbc.com and news services
updated 26 minutes ago 2011-02-02T00:53:05

CAIRO — Embattled President Hosni Mubarak announced Tuesday that he would not run for another term in office, a concession that seemingly failed to appease many Egyptians who marched a million strong to demand that his 30-year-rule end immediately.

Mubarak said he would serve out the last months of his term, which expires in September, and “die on Egyptian soil.” He promised not to seek re-election, but that did not calm public fury as clashes erupted between his opponents and supporters.

Many on the streets renewed their calls for the 82-year-old leader to quit now and make way for a transitional unity government. “We will not leave! He will leave!” some chanted in Cairo.

In Washington, President Barack Obama said he spoke with Mubarak after the speech, and the Egyptian leader “recognizes that the status quo is not sustainable and a change must take place.”

“What is clear and what I indicated tonight to President Mubarak is my belief that an orderly transition must be meaningful, it must be peaceful and it must begin now,” Obama said.

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Mubarak’s halfway concession in a 10-minute televised statement — an end to his rule seven months down the road — failed to disperse protesters, who insisted they would not end their week-old wave of unrest.

In the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, clashes erupted between several hundred protesters and Mubarak supporters soon afterward, according to footage by Al-Jazeera television. The protesters threw stones at their rivals, who wielded knives and sticks, until soldiers fired in the air and stepped in between them, said a local journalist, Hossam el-Wakil.

The speech was immediately derided by protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Watching on a giant TV, protesters booed and waved their shoes over their heads at his image in a sign of contempt. “Go, go, go! We are not leaving until he leaves,” they chanted. One man screamed, “He doesn’t want to say it, he doesn’t want to say it.”

    1. Protesters defiant after Mubarak speech Updated 26 minutes ago 2/2/2011 12:53:05 AM +00:00 Embattled President Hosni Mubarak announced Tuesday that he would not run for another term in office, a concession that seemingly failed to appease many Egyptians who marched a million strong to demand that his 30-year-rule end immediately. Full story

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In the 10-minute address, the 82-year-old Mubarak insisted that even if the protests had never happened, he would not have sought a sixth term in September.

He said he would serve out the rest of his term working “to accomplish the necessary steps for the peaceful transfer of power.” He said he will carry out amendments to rules on presidential elections.

Mubarak, a former air force commander, vowed not to flee the country. “This is my dear homeland … I have lived in it, I fought for it and defended its soil, sovereignty and interests. On its soil I will die. History will judge me and all of us.”

Mubarak would be the second Arab leader pushed from office by a popular uprising in the history of the modern Middle East, following the ouster last month of the president of Tunisia — another North African nation.

The U.S. ambassador in Cairo, Margaret Scobey, spoke by telephone Tuesday with Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, the embassy said. ElBaradei, a pro-democracy advocate and one of the opposition’s most prominent leaders, has taken a key role in formulating the movement’s demands. He is also a member of a new committee formed by various factions to conduct any future negotiations on the protesters’ behalf once Mubarak steps down.

Speaking to NBC News’ Brian Williams, ElBaradei added that the protests had created a generation of “new Egyptians.”

“They have confidence, they have hope, they have dignity,” he added. “They feel that they have been reborn from being slaves into human beings.”

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Only a month ago, reform activists would have greeted Mubarak’s announcement with joy — many Egyptians believed Mubarak was going to run again despite health issues. But after the past week of upheaval, Mubarak’s address struck many of his opponents as inadequate.

“The people have spoken. They said no to Mubarak, and they will not go back on their words,” said Saad el-Katatni, a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood. “Enough suffering. Let him go, and leave the Egyptians to sort themselves out.”

Ayman Nour, a former presidential candidate who is a member of the negotiating committee, said Mubarak clearly didn’t get the message.

“This is a unique case of stubbornness that will end in a disaster,” he said. “It is only expected that he wasn’t going to run because of his age… He offered nothing new.”

Tuesday’s protest marked a dramatic escalation that organizers said aims to drive Mubarak out by Friday, with more than 250,000 people flooding into Tahrir, or Liberation, Square.

Protesters jammed in shoulder to shoulder: farmers and unemployed university graduates, women in conservative headscarves and women in high heels, men in suits and working-class men in scuffed shoes. Many in the crowd traveled from rural provinces, defying a government transportation shutdown and roadblocks on intercity highways.

They sang nationalist songs, danced, beat drums and chanted the anti-Mubarak slogan “Leave! Leave! Leave!” as military helicopters buzzed overhead. Similar demonstrations erupted in at least five other cities around Egypt.

Soldiers at checkpoints set up at the entrances of the square did nothing to stop the crowds from entering. The military promised on state TV Monday night that it would not fire on protesters, a sign that army support for Mubarak may be unraveling.

The movement to drive Mubarak out has been built on the work of online activists and fueled by deep frustration with an autocratic regime blamed for ignoring the needs of the poor and allowing corruption and official abuse to run rampant. After years of tight state control, protesters emboldened by the Tunisia unrest took to the streets on Jan. 25 and mounted a once-unimaginable series of protests across this nation of 80 million.

The repercussions were being felt around the Mideast, as other authoritarian governments fearing popular discontent pre-emptively tried to burnish their democratic image.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II fired his government Tuesday in the face of smaller street protests, named an ex-prime minister to form a new Cabinet and ordered him to launch political reforms. The Palestinian Cabinet in the West Bank said it would hold long-promised municipal elections “as soon as possible.”

Egypt’s protesters have rejected earlier concessions by Mubarak, including the dissolution of his government, the naming of a new one and the appointment of a vice president, Omar Suleiman, who offered a dialogue with “political forces” over constitutional and legislative reforms.

In an interview with Al-Arabiya television Tuesday, ElBaradei dismissed Suleiman’s offer, saying there could be no negotiations until Mubarak leaves. In his speech, Mubarak said the offer still stands and promised to change constitutional articles that allow the president unlimited terms and limit those who can run for the office.

Story: U.S. scrambles to size up ElBaradei Egypt’s state TV on Tuesday ran a statement by the new prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, pleading with the public to “give a chance” to his government.

The United States ordered nonessential U.S. government personnel and their families to leave Egypt. They join a wave of people rushing to flee the country — over 18,000 overwhelmed Cairo’s international airport. EgyptAir staff scuffled with frantic passengers, food supplies were dwindling and some policemen even demanded substantial bribes before allowing foreigners to board their planes.

Banks, schools and the stock market in Cairo were closed for the third working day, making cash tight. Bread prices spiraled. An unprecedented shutdown of the Internet was in its fifth day.

The official death toll from the crisis stood at 97, with thousands injured, though reports from witnesses across the country indicated the actual toll was far higher.

Every protester had their own story of why they came — with a shared theme of frustration with a life pinned in by corruption, low wages, crushed opportunities and abuse by authorities. Under Mubarak, Egypt has seen a widening gap between rich and poor, with 40 percent of the population living under or just above the poverty line set by the World Bank at $2 a day.

Sahar Ahmad, a 41-year-old school teacher and mother of one, said she has taught for 22 years and still only makes about $70 a month.

“There are 120 students in my classroom. That’s more than any teacher can handle,” said Ahmad. “Change would mean a better education system I can teach in and one that guarantees my students a good life after school. If there is democracy in my country, then I can ask for democracy in my own home.”

NBC News, msnbc.com staff, Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

PHOTOS

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Why China’s Great Firewall is blocking Internet searches of Egypt.

BY ABRAHAM DENMARK | FEBRUARY 1, 2011

For the first time in memory, places like Egypt, Tunisia, and Yemen are starting to understand what Thomas Jefferson meant when he wrote that “when the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.” Middle East citizens have long been fearful — but now with protesters overwhelming the streets, the regimes finally are too. Yet as people power has swept autocrats out of Tunis and Cairo, Middle Eastern regimes aren’t the only ones getting nervous. Beijing is also paying rapt attention.

By Jefferson’s definition, China today looks a lot like these newly weakened Middle Eastern governments. The country’s people are certainly afraid of their government, with its internal security apparatus busily cracking down on protests, monitoring China’s active blogosphere, and even censoring the remarks of China’s own premier. Yet so too does the government in Beijing fear its people. Although China is not nearly close to a popular revolt on the scale we see today in the Middle East, its leaders are nonetheless nervous.

Indeed, fear of unrest profoundly influences decision-making at the highest levels of the Chinese system. So far, the state media have been broadcasting a steady stream of burning vehicles and other reminders of the perils of chaos, as the New Yorker‘s Evan Osnos points out. China’s 457 million Internet users (and 180 million bloggers) can no longer use the Chinese word for “Egypt” in microblogs or search engines. The government’s goal is to pre-empt any contagion effect that popular uprisings against autocracy in the Middle East might have in China, inspiring the country’s ranks of discontented.

People’s revolutions are a big deal for China. They are at the foundation of the popular myths surrounding the birth and rise to power of the Chinese Communist Party, yet so too have they threatened that party’s very existence. The pro-democracy protests and subsequent crackdown in Tiananmen Square in 1989 taught the Chinese people a lesson about how far their government would go to maintain stability. The devastating Cultural Revolution is now portrayed not as a horrific outgrowth of Chairman Mao’s efforts to weed out opposition, but rather as an example of what happens when people are allowed to run amok without government control. During the 1989 protests, China’s leaders reportedly described the actions of the protesters in Tiananmen Square as “beating, smashing, and robbing” (da za qiang) — the same phrase used to describe the atrocities committed by the violent and ideological Red Guard. Still wary it could happen again, China’s leaders are hypervigilant about quashing any nascent unrest.

China’s leaders do not have to look far to be nervous; some of the seeds for discontent are already in place. In October 2010, 23 former Chinese leaders published an open letter calling for the abolition of censorship, the protection of free speech, and freedom of the press (translation here from the China Media Project). A party journal, Seeking Truth, pushed back, saying this would lead inevitably to “national collapse.” The journal drew parallels with the collapse of the Soviet Union, arguing that political reform caused the USSR’s disintegration. Tellingly, the article pointed out that Mikhail Gorbachev (whom China blames for the USSR’s disintegration) was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. The China Media Project interprets this reference as a veiled allusion to recent Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, whose award Beijing views as an example of how the West uses pressure to reform to undermine the Chinese Communist Party.

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