Today's Coming Crisis Movie

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Chaos Builds in the Streets of Cairo as a Truce Fails


The outskirts of Tahrir Square, the iconic landmark of Egypt’s revolution, plunged into chaos on Wednesday, after attempts by the Egyptian military, religious clerics and doctors failed to stanch a fifth day of fighting that has posed the greatest crisis to the country since the fall of President Hosni Mubarak in February.

The fighting in darkened streets, suffused with tear gas and eerily illuminated by the flashing lights of police cars and the floodlights of armored personnel carriers, seemed to stand as a metaphor for a political transition that has careened into deep uncertainty just days before elections that were supposed to anchor the shift from military to civilian rule.

The military that seized power with Mr. Mubarak’s fall rebuffed protesters’ demands to surrender authority this week, and the political elite has seemed paralyzed or defensive over the unrest. The discontent in Tahrir Square has broadened from demands for the generals to cede control and anger over bloodshed into dissatisfaction with a transition that has delivered precious little since the uprising’s heady days in February.

“This is a revolution of the hungry!” declared Amr Ali Mohammed, a 23-year-old protester taking a break from the battle with the police. “Egyptians have had enough.”

The sense of uncertainty that prevailed in Egypt echoed some of the most anxious days of the uprising that began in January against Mr. Mubarak’s nearly 30 years of rule. Though life went on in much of the capital, the protests demonstrated a resilience they had lacked for months, and episodes of dissent have erupted in other parts of the country, including Alexandria, Egypt’s second-largest city. Neither politicians nor the military seemed ready to embrace a drastic step that many insisted was needed to end the unrest. more