Revolution in Egypt – Divergent Views
‘Military top brass atop Egypt pyramid’
Interview with Said Zulficar, political analyst, Cairo, Egypt
Egyptians are jubilant over achieving the first step in forcing decades-long dictator Hosni Mubarak out of power, as the military is now in charge.
The following is the transcription of Press TV’s interview with Said Zulficar, a political analyst in the capital Cairo, regarding the latest developments in the crisis-hit country and what might follow.
Press TV: Mr. Zulficar, how are you feeling right now? It must just be an electric time in Cairo at the moment.
Zulficar: Well I was in Tahrir (Liberation) Square when the news came that the president has resigned. I knew that a couple of hours before he had left Cairo and was in Sharm el-Sheikh. I was in front of the television station which was surrounded by several thousand demonstrators and I walked to Tahrir (Liberation) Square when the news came out. Of course there was over joy, jubilation, etc… I still have reservations about this whole thing because although we have the first step or the first necessity demanded by people that the president resigns and leaves but the regime seems still to be in place because the person who is the head of the military council is one of his closest associates. General Tantawi has been minister of defense for more than 25 years and he is a very close friend of President Mubarak. So what has happened is, I think, the military top brass have found out that the president was a liability and that they must put order, they must save the bridges, the opposition and the state and they are taking over.
Now what is [Vice President] Omar Suleiman’s position? No one knows that he remains in his position as vice president. The government of course is going to be changed. But the top brass, all of the members of this military council, [are] all very close hand-picked generals picked by Mubarak over the years. And obviously screened by CIA. So I still have reservations, we’re just starting. We have succeeded in a very important step which is getting rid of Mubarak. But Mubarak for the past five years has not been governing this country. He’s been sitting in Sharm el-Sheikh where he is now; he has been for five years. He hardly ever comes to Cairo. It has been run by General Omar Suleiman who was vice president until a couple of hours ago, may still be. It was run, from security point of view and from a foreign policy point of view by Omar Suleiman. He is a close friend of the Israelis and of the Americans. Nothing has changed.
Press TV: The question I want o pose to you is 18 days, such a short amount of time for such an uprooting revolution that people want. What does this 18 days signify to us? Does it signify that the army possibly in coordination with other powers has implemented a plan B or is that assessment taken from people’s success and their achievement in 18 short days?
Zulficar: My assessment is the fear which is for the populations to be afraid of the regime has changed camps. The people are no longer afraid. They have shown that they can overturn an oppressive government. But fear is in the other camp. And the other camp was not just the regime but the people are supporting the regime, which was the army. I still think that the top brass of the army has not changed that fundamental feeling. They are doing what they call the crisis management. They are in daily, maybe in hourly contact with the Pentagon, these people. They are all hand-picked. So I suspect that the Pentagon has been advising them what to do. That they have to get rid of Mubarak who was a total liability and that they must do some crisis management, which is take over power and try and have certain amounts of reform which I fear might be cosmetic unless the people who are no longer afraid must continue the movement. They must not be demobilized by what happened tonight. They must not demobilize. They must still maintain the aims of the movement. They must maintain the demands which are the dissolution of both houses of the parliament, the abrogation of the emergency law, the establishment of social justice and a normal, legal justice and having a civilian government.
We don’t want a military dictatorship here. We don’t trust this top brass even though they have changed style but they only changed style because they are in fear. They are in fear of popular power.
Press TV: You’re still in touch with what’s going on on the streets. I guess tonight people are going to be just thinking about celebrating and not about politics at all.
Zulficar: Yes, they are celebrating right now with fireworks right now just outside my window. So people are celebrating but I just hope they will not demobilize. This is only the very beginning of a long process. We must be sure that we have civilian rule and not military rule. We must be sure that the remnants of this regime that are still in positions of power do not remain in these positions.
As I said this military committee is handpicked by Mubarak. They are all American stooges basically and they all have relations with Israel. As long as these people run the show we have to be very vigilant. And one last word I have is to give thanks to the Tunisian people who showed us the way. They showed that you could overthrow oppressive, terrible, dictatorial regimes just by people’s power and by specific means by civilian upsurge. The national Intifada which is unheard of in our part of the world. The dictators in all over the Arab world must be shivering now. They must be trembling because their time will come and I am sure people in Washington must be very distraught because their whole so-called new Middle East is falling apart. And people are freeing themselves from the shackles of American imperialism and its Israeli acolyte, Israeli colonialism.
Press TV: I would like to ask your predictions now because you have been on defense over the last couple of weeks. What would be the determining factor for you?
Zulficar: As I said I have reservations about being overjoyed. Of course we have to be overjoyed but as I said Mubarak was not ruling this country over the past five years. It was ruled by Omar Suleiman and people around him. So we have to be very vigilant. We must not lay down our arms. We must not demobilize. I have discovered some young people, the leaders of the April Sixth Movement, Ahmad Maher people like Honein …who just came out of prison. These young people who are their late twenties or early thirties who started this whole Internet revolution through Facebook. They deserve to become ministers in this country. They deserve to have a role and get rid of all these old faces that have been mismanaging for 60 years a country which could have been wealthy, which is now in chaos and in poverty because it has been looted by the people who have been mismanaging and running it, by the family of Hosni Mubarak and wild-cat capitalists that they have around it. We should make sure not to lay down our arms and let the young people take over from these generations of old people that have mismanaged and misruled what used to be ‘the mother of the world.’ Now when you look at it, it is nothing but debris.
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