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Cairo instant analysis (3)

I really do need to take care of some RL stuff before tomorrow, so I can't write extended commentary on the day's events in Cairo. So a few quick thoughts:

1. Numerian has a great comment on the similarities between the Egyptian situation and our own, especially for youth. Go read, because the differences aren't nearly as great as you might think.

2. I was going to pontificate on what the Egyptian people were going to do tomorrow, but.... It's clear that the protesters are showing tremendous courage and determination. It also looks to me like the regime is going for a policy of slow strangulation of activism in the Tahrir Square, combined with attacks on the population by security forces turned night riders, which is creating a great deal of fear (as it should). Since all the media sources, including, really, AJ, have a dog in the fight, I don't have the first idea about how to assess the correlation of forces. The AJ guest who pointed out that the generals (rich) have one set of incentives, and the soldiers (relatively poor) have another struck a chord with me, and that may explain why the regime is moving so cautiously to deploy what they might regard as a fragile instrument. So, I think what matters tonight is this: Hundreds of thousands of protesters in Tahrir Square have now dispersed out into the neighborhoods, and have presumably discussed these matters with their neighbors and families. The outcome of those discussions, which we cannot know from our vantage point, will be the determining factor. Tomorrow we'll know more.

3. One thing that Cairo will be talking about in the neighborhoods is ElBaradei. I have to say that I was not impressed by his appearance, and I'm not sure that Egyptians were impressed. If you want to be a revolutionary leader, or even a regime changer, you've got to arrange to make yourself heard above the crowd! Think of Yeltsin on his tank. What would have happened if he had not been heard? I know that AJ was shut down, but the AJ camera would not have been able to hear him in any case. And so what? And surely ElBaradei could have arranged for his remarks to be distributed? Why did we have to piece everything together from reports phoned in to scattered media outlets? Not impressive. Even if AJ is, rather transparently, pushing him. For me, the key data point is that the crowd seemed no more energized after his speech than before. No movement, no chants, nothing (and some chants against him, too, though we can't know if that's genuine opposition or police infiltration).

4. The wild card is the youth. AJ and many outlets say this is a youth-driven movement (and maybe twitter and facebook are more important than I thought -- though twitter was used today to disseminate what was almost certainly disinformation about ELBaradie's speech). Well, where are the youth? What are they thinking and doing? If there's a source for this information, I don't know what it is.

UPDATE I'm forgetting that one thing the youth is doing is protecting the neighborhoods. Maybe that's why the TS crowds -- though all ages are there, for sure -- on average seem older.

Well, all for now. Good night!

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