Egypt, for years, had been run by a typical “strongman” with a dim view of political disagreement. Eventually, people got fed up & protested, wanting Mubarak to relinquish power.
Good: Mubarak eventually did step down.
Bad: the military took over, putting in place a group of people with dim views of political disagreement. Cue further protests:
As usual, such demonstration gets met with violence:
Hardened and emboldened by their success in toppling Hosni Mubarak nine months ago, experienced protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square encouraged each other on Sunday to hold their ground as the police fired canister after canister of teargas.
“Don’t run, that just provokes them to fire more,” shouted one protester to others fleeing a hail of metal cans. […]
It looked like a reprise of the uprising that ended Mubarak’s 30-year rule, as protesters erected barricades around the square. When the police advanced, activists banged on metal as a warning to send forward parties to defend the perimeter. But this time, the once revered army and its generals who now run Egypt are in the firing line. Praised when they took over after police lost control of the streets under Mubarak, many activists now fear the army wants to hold onto power.
The reason for that fear is that a draft constitution was circulated which would enshrine the military as a self-ruling entity regardless of what occurred politically. Under that type of rule, the Egyptian army could tell anyone attempting to reign them in to go stick it where the sun don’t shine, or just take over again on a whim.
Some here might be asking themselves of what relevance this is to them. Here’s what: you are helping pay for this, against your will. Once again, those tear gas cans tell a story:
The serial number and blue markings on the tear gas canister indicate that it was manufactured by Combined Systems Incorporated (CSI), a weapons manufacturer based in Jamestown, Pennsylvania.
This is not the first time CSI ‘s products have been used against Egyptian citizens. During Egypt’s January revolution, CSI tear gas was employed by the Mubarak regime against demonstrators in Tahrir Square.
Nearly nine months later, these same canisters have been raining down on demonstrators for the past eight hours as Egyptian security forces clash with protesters throughout downtown Cairo. The violence on Saturday came a day after peaceful protesters occupied Tahrir Square on Friday demanding the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) accelerate the transition to civilian rule.
The use of U.S-made tear gas against the protesters in Cairo is the result of the U.S. military aid policy. In exchange for nearly $1.3 billion in aid, the United States requires that Egypt buy its hardware from U.S. manufacturers. (emphasis mine)
Figures that there would be a corporatist hook in even this. I wonder where the pepper spray used on those OWS protesters who clearly weren’t doing anything came from…
(Top photo credit: Lorenz Khazaleh on Flickr)