Wael Ghonim Trusts Egyptian Army, but Many Egyptians are Still Skeptical
Wael Ghonim, the Google executive detained for days by Egyptian police, wrote on Facebook “I feel we are on the right path to achieve democracy,” and, “I trust the Egyptian Army.” Ghonim, after his incarceration and subsequent interview, became a symbol of the Egyptian revolution, and many are taking these words as a sign that democracy will be achieved in Egypt. But with the army holding power, parliament dissolved and the constitution suspended, many Egyptians are not as optimistic as Mr. Ghonim.
The Egyptian people know the army and understand its reluctance to cede power. Despite the promise of free elections within the next 6 months, many wonder if the army, after tasting absolute power, will be able to back down. They also fear that the coming months won’t look that democratic. The military has already urged people to return to normal life, and forcibly removed the last groups of protestors from Tahrir square. Al Jazeera has also had contact with an unidentified military source. This insider says that the military will move to outlaw labor strikes and protests.
The opposition movement, which ousted Mubarak, has respond to the fears of Egyptians, calling for more demonstrations to cement its role as the head of Egypt’s move towards democracy. The Egyptian army was able to sit on the sidelines during the last round of demonstrations. But it now holds the seat of power, and might violently confront any challenge to its authority.
The army faces another challenge from Egypt’s labor force. Labor unions united with protestors during the climax of the demonstrations, organizing massive strikes and joining the growing crowds. The ousting of Mubarak and promises of free elections was enough to send many protestors home, but the demands made by unions, for better wages, have not been met. Strikes have already crippled major portions of the Egyptian economy. State banks have been close by striking workers, and this in turn has injured the Egyptian stock market; which hasn’t opened for trading in weeks.
If the army doesn’t deal with this crisis, the Egyptian economy will be crippled. They can either give into the demands of the unions, or attempt to undermine their cause by outlawing labor strikes and labeling them as the enemies of a stable Egypt. The army will show their cards in dealing with the labor unions. Their response will telegraph their intentions, and show the Egyptian people what the climate of this “interim” period will look like.
Even if the army upholds the oppressive policies of the Mubarak regime, an institution it supported for decades, Egypt will continue down the uneven trail towards representative government. Mubarak and his thugs couldn’t contain the energy of the opposition movement, and the army, even with its American sponsored weapons, won’t fare any better.
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