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Posted at 1:21 PM ET, 02/ 2/2011

Mubarak unleashes chaos

By Jackson Diehl

Just hours after promising that he would give up power seven months from now, Hosni Mubarak unleashed the "chaos" he had warned Egyptians was the only alternative to his autocratic regime. The regime's thugs ran riot in the center of Cairo, Alexandria and other cities Wednesday, attacking what had been peaceful anti-government encampments with stones, knives and Molotov cocktails.

Bahey El Din Hassan, who is one of Egypt's leading human rights activists, is not surprised. Hassan, who for the last quarter century has been one of the relatively small contingent of activists fighting against the abuses of the Mubarak regime, recognized tactics he has been documenting for years -- the use of plainclothes intelligence and security operatives; violence directed against peaceful protesters and journalists; and, most of all, the attempt to create a pretext for a still bloodier intervention.

"I was expecting that something like this would happen today," Hassan told me in an interview in Washington. "Because even though he offered the country a deal last night, Mubarak's statement was not reconciliatory. His speech was full of threats and negative interpretations of the demonstrations. And immediately after it ended state television began calling for 'supporters of stability' to show their strength."

Hassan's cellphone was chiming incessantly during our conversation with calls from his colleagues in Cairo's Tahrir square. "They are afraid there is a plan to clear the square tonight by any means," he said. In other words, rather than beginning the "orderly transition" to democracy President Obama said should begin "now" in Cairo, Mubarak may be trying to create the conditions for a massacre -- an Arab Tiananmen Square.

Hassan, who currently is director of a regional human rights group called the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, left Egypt on Jan. 25, the day opposition organizers had planned a "day of rage" against the Egyptian government. In contrast to Tunisia's spontaneous uprising, Egypt's was planned. But Hassan said neither he nor the young leaders of the April 6 movement who organized that first protest expected such a huge turnout. Nor did they plan for the demonstrations to continue beyond Jan. 25.

"At first they weren't even sure they could continue until Friday," Jan. 28 -- the day that hundreds of thousands first took to the streets, Hassan said. The massive response, he said, "is very good news. But we don't yet have a real breakthrough.There is a lot of maneuvering and manipulation by the regime." Mubarak, he added, may still have the capacity to restore order by force.

Hassan watched President Obama's statement Tuesday night, and saw it as a good example of what U.S. policy has been the last two years: "fine words, but no action." "I think that this administration in practice has supported not only the Mubarak regime but all the authoritarian regimes in the Arab region," he said.

"The Cairo speech president Obama made two years ago sent a very good message to the Arab people. But in reality the administration engaged with the regimes at the expense of the people. It didn't help the people of the region and it didn't help U.S. long-term interests -- and this is what we now see in the streets of Cairo."

Some in Washington argue that the United States has little ability to affect the outcome of Egypt's crisis. But Hassan warned that if Mubarak represses the pro-democracy movement or fails to carry out a democratic transition, both Egyptians and Arabs around the region will blame the Obama administration.

"Rightly of wrongly, the Egyptian people think the United States is still supporting Mubarak," he said. "Rightly or wrongly, they think the United States has unlimited power to push Mubarak to respond positively. If he doesn't respond that way, that means the United States didn't push or agrees with how he handles the situation."

In other words, if Obama does not want to be known as the American president who facilitated the ugly violence Mubarak has unleashed in Cairo, he will have to act forcefully, publicly -- and quickly.

By Jackson Diehl  | February 2, 2011; 1:21 PM ET
Categories:  Diehl  | Tags:  Jackson Diehl  
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Islamic-Marxism is a 21st century phenomena, it`s members are swinging their swords in all directions, blindly hoping to decapitate the wealthy as well as the infidel. Their goal is a Caliphate where all are dressed in rags.

Posted by: morristhewise | February 2, 2011 2:01 PM | Report abuse

Mubarak is a murderer, who was a co-conspirator, in the assassination of President Anwar El Sadat, and he will not go quietly. He loves power, and he loves all of the American aid, which he has promptly stolen, for the benefit of himself, and his family. He deserves what he gave Sadat.

Posted by: TheStoicOne | February 2, 2011 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Obama making a decision or statement without a teleprompter? lol, yeah right.

Posted by: azspots | February 2, 2011 2:05 PM | Report abuse

The guy tried to reason with them. No matter what he gave it wasnt good enough. Stand down from power? why, and what would the outcome of that be. They would murder him and his family. To bad soo many, our goverment officails , as well as there own army, have given them a false sense of security that they will be safe. Embolden them to be more defiant. No such thing as a peaceful demostration. The economic and social upheval this peaceful demostration has caused will set the area back 10 years. Hats off to Mubarak, for being an iron fisted dictator he has shown great restraint. Even address the issues brought before him. Now comes the bad stuff .. and no real way to prove the accusation that are about to fly.

Posted by: ccharles1 | February 2, 2011 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Mubarak should be hanged like Mussolini and Saddam Hussein.

Posted by: thomasmc1957 | February 2, 2011 2:08 PM | Report abuse

hey, AZSPOTS, your village idiot Dubya couldn't speak a coherent sentence, even WITH a teleprompter!

Posted by: thomasmc1957 | February 2, 2011 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Mubarak and his henchmen should hang from rope labeled, "Proudly made in the USA."

Posted by: hamishdad | February 2, 2011 2:12 PM | Report abuse

The spreading unrest in the Middle East is likely to be exploited by the radical factions such the Muslim Brotherhood is attempting to do now. Mubarak is unimportant, he is as good as gone (probably to Switzerland with his millions stolen from Egyptians), it is what happens next that matters.

Posted by: Douglas4517 | February 2, 2011 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Obama instructing Mubarak to just step down has to be one of the dumbest suggestions in history. What does he think happens to a strong-arming dictator when he's out of power? The people that he's been subjugating want to get their pound of flesh.

Posted by: randysbailin | February 2, 2011 2:18 PM | Report abuse

On Friday this thing can escalate to a civil war. The international community has to do whatever it can to prevent it. Edan Aharony

Posted by: EdanAharony | February 2, 2011 2:19 PM | Report abuse

@ morristhewise - Oh the trembling oppressed white minority, fearing the rise of scary brown people who might not do your bidding and accept your total dominance over their lives and resources. Freedom, liberty, democracy as long as we're on top and all others are safely kept below.

The brave people of Egypt are shaking off the oppression of a tyrant who receives $1.5 billion American taxpayer dollars every year.

The Israelis are terrified they'll lose their most reliable thug and his boot might be lifted from the necks of the Arab people. The US president blows his usual hot air while trying not to interfere (and keeping the money flowing to a despciable regime), and racist Islamaphobes around the world wonder how they will survive when faced with self-determination by people who are not just like themselves.

Smart bombs don't free people, people do.

Hypocrisy or democracy. Choose one!

Posted by: nanak1 | February 2, 2011 2:20 PM | Report abuse

The U.S. is only a good as the money we give... the money we use to buy some recognition in the Middle East. I suggest we pull out our money (id.est "foreign aid") and then see how much support we get. Then we should use that to re-evaluate the support given in the US to middle eastern visitors including students here on free scholarships and other forms of assistance.

In reality the U.S. president has little or no influence in Egypt...Obama would be better off to just keep quiet. But, first bring home the money and let the Middle Eastern gazillionaires take care of their own.

Posted by: billsyr | February 2, 2011 2:46 PM | Report abuse

"Hundreds of thousands anti-Mubarak" against "a couple of hundred pro-Mubarak" with "...stones, knives and Molotov cocktails."?
If the anti-Mubaraks can't win if only by sheer numbers I'd say: "People, go home. Have a coffee and a good rest."

Posted by: quatra | February 2, 2011 2:49 PM | Report abuse

A Conversation with The People of Egypt

My dear Egyptian, lend your ear!

It is too familiar, You chanted: Job, anti-corruption, freedom and democracy with your youthful energy and innocent heart! Moreover, some of good soldiers stand by you!

It is too familiar, the young and ambitious NBC reporter Richard Engel even stands on tank with you. The other young and innocent Erin Burnett who wants to score point, wonders and wandering around you! Of course, not let alone the mature and cunning NYT and Pulitzer Prize writer Nicholas Kristof, this time he hides in the hotel and watches form there. And predicted.

It is too familiar! It would be the 1989, June 4. Tiananmen Square Massacre! I hope not!

Mao’s famous words: Gun power breeds political power. Twitter and Facebook, the people power not. Because you are in an Authoritarian country like 1989, Deng Xiaoping’s China!

Go home ! Wait with your precious live and patience to see
whether it is Coup d’etat or Mubarak? You have to live with it until September!

Go home! Now!

Posted by: taichilo | February 2, 2011 2:54 PM | Report abuse

In other words, if Obama does not want to be known as the American president who facilitated the ugly violence Mubarak has unleashed in Cairo, he will have to act forcefully, publicly -- and quickly
WTF! everytime the sh$T hits the fan in some backwater, it's the USA who is either at fault or is supposed to clean up the mess. Last time I checked Obama was not king of the world. Time for other nations to get off thier fat rumps.

Posted by: sux123 | February 2, 2011 3:14 PM | Report abuse

The thinking that the US doesn't have the ability to sway the outcome in Egypt is nonsense. The only question is will we be on the right side of history or not.

Posted by: ExConservative | February 2, 2011 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Diel's 'big get' interview shows what a
one note hack he is.

Hassan left Egypt the 25th, didn't know what was coming, he says, "didn't expect such a big turnout" ! Doesn't sound VERY WELL CONNECTED, does he?

But what well connected spokesman for the Egyptian news would bother to talk to Diehl, Israel's constant propogandist? The best people wouldn't bother.

Also note that Hassan took some harsh, if stupid hits at Obama. THAT, Diehl would be interested in...that he would print, as few who know better would give credence. Hassan words wouldn't find space elsewhere. In fact, hasn't.

Posted by: whistling | February 2, 2011 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Now that Obama has announced that he is a card carrying member of the brotherhood, and would like to see his boys in the Egyptian government, America has even more evidence of where his heart is and it is not America. What we need in America is our Egypt moment demanding this president resign.

Posted by: lhudson828 | February 2, 2011 4:28 PM | Report abuse

The pro-Mubarak thugs were paid $100 each to attack the peaceful protesters rallying for Freedom and Democracy.

$100 each.

$100 of American taxpayer dollars.



Posted by: WillSeattle | February 2, 2011 5:07 PM | Report abuse


How valuable you are! Your big 'get' interview on this world news day is:

Hassan, who DIDN'T KNOW when and how big the protests were going to be! (Obviously tippy top and close to the action, he left the 25th, unknowning)

You are, as usual, must read. Right?

Posted by: whistling | February 2, 2011 5:12 PM | Report abuse


How valuable you are! Your big 'get' interview on this world news day is:

Hassan, who DIDN'T KNOW when and how big the protests were going to be! (Obviously tippy top and close to the action, he left the 25th, unknowning)

You are, as usual, must read. Right?

Posted by: whistling | February 2, 2011 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Someone who posts that Mubarak assisted/facilitated the murder of Sadat is either a worthy candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize, or, the insane asylum. Either the poster has that knowledge, or, he is overdue for the strait jacket.

Posted by: craigslsst | February 2, 2011 7:00 PM | Report abuse

I would like to know how and what the President has to do with all the protesters in another Country? As for the $1.5B, the USA was giving that when other presidents were in office! But some of you racists just have to bring the President's name into everything. You ppl must be in love with him, but he is not in love with you! He has a beautiful and smart wife & lovely children! So, keep his name out of your comment!

Posted by: edujustice2005 | February 2, 2011 7:55 PM | Report abuse

No, quite the contrary, Diehl: YOU have unleased chaos with your astonishingly arrogant, emperors of the universe stance, INSISTING THAT A FOREIGN SOVEREIGN MUST GO-WHERE IN HADES DO YOU GET OFF WITH THAT?

NOT knowing as is your wont, one da m thing about this area, and having almost a personalized agenda to slander the president of Egypt, this country's greatest friend in the war on terrorism, recasting him as some bloodthirsty dictator-it's sick, Diehl, really, and whatever else YOU think it is, I'll tell you what it is not: IT IS NOT JOURNALISM, IT IS MERELY CRUDE POSTURING, BY VIRTUE OF YOUR MEMBERSHIP IN AN UNABASHED CULTURE OF FOURTH ESTATE ARROGANCE-THE DEATH OF JOURNALISM INDEED.

And I'll be reminding you in a year or so of EXACTLY what you proudly and oh so arrogantly helped foment-the downfall of our most important ally in the Middle East-which is going to shortly lead to uninterrupted civil war, and a massacre of Christians-yeah, pat yourselves on the back, Diehl-you done REAAAL good here

Posted by: Spring_Rain | February 2, 2011 8:09 PM | Report abuse

The US has plenty of power over the situation; one phone call saying that the billions in aid are no longer coming. So wonderful to see my tax dollars used for the killing of innocent people fighting for none other than democracy.

Posted by: Kermit_the_frog | February 2, 2011 10:26 PM | Report abuse

It is indeed sad that our leader is Barack Obama who does not have a clue about what to do. He is incompetent and the other world leaders see esactly where the greatest US weakness lies, in the White House.

Posted by: gone2dabeachgmailcom | February 2, 2011 11:52 PM | Report abuse

For anyone believing that Omar Suleiman, the newly appointed Egyptian Vice President, will make a good replacement for Mubarak I suggest they Google:
"Omar Suleiman + shackled Turkistan prisoner"

I am sure they will soon become further enlightened!

Posted by: smazari | February 3, 2011 5:57 AM | Report abuse

Mobark and his sons and his wife are thugs
they kill poor Egyptian youth and absorb poor Egyptian blood
there is no supporters for Mobark except Mobark thugs autocratic regime and thieves
Mobark must be hanged
Mobark kill more than 100 person until now to be Egypt president he is not president he is thug and thief

Posted by: arbmra | February 3, 2011 6:24 AM | Report abuse



Posted by: Spring_Rain | February 3, 2011 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Never in history was such a level of hypocrisy and arrogance as in words of Obama and Clinton! Why do not they want (or dare?) to speak in such a tone
with Iran? With N.Korea? Libya? Yemen?
Saudi Arabia? China? Belarus? Jordan? Syria?
Who will trust American presidents after such insolent talks?

Posted by: zpevzner | February 3, 2011 9:27 AM | Report abuse



Of course, Mubarak IS the law.

Posted by: sr31 | February 3, 2011 10:15 AM | Report abuse

Is Jackson asking for American troops in Egypt? That request from America's wannabe imperialists is about as predictable as Mubarak's actions.

Posted by: dnjake | February 3, 2011 11:29 AM | Report abuse

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