Mubarak thugs accused of being government provocateurs

Mubarak thugs accused of being government provocateurs

By staff writers
2 Feb 2011

Mubarak's thugs have attacked protesters against the Egyptian regime in Tahrir Square, Cairo, but so far do not seem to have quelled the demonstrators.

Several thousand pro-Mubarak activists, armed with clubs, knives and stones broke through a human chain of pro-democracy demonstrators trying to defend the crowds, tearing down their banners and sparking fistfights that escalated quickly into fully fledged street battles.

Reporters say that protesters asked Egyptian soldiers for help, shouting: "Protect us!" But the soldiers replied that they did not have orders to do so, telling people to go home.

There are accusations that the pro-Mubarak activists are actually plain-clothes security officials commissioned by the regime to fight back and provoke violence to destroy the image of the anti-Mubarak demonstrators.

The US network CNN is among those who say they have seen evidence that pro-Mubarak supporters have been carrying official papers and other evidence of complicity with the regime (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/14070).

The writer Ahdaf Souief has made similar accusations, saying that this is tried and tested tactic of the government during election times.

The claims were also backed by a spokesperson for the Egyptian Centre for Economics and Social Rights (http://www.cesr.org/).

Some people have genuine fears about the political division that may follow the demise of the president, and the possibility that Egypt will descend into the kind of bloodshed seen in Iraq. But the most violent and aggressive seem to be well organised and prepared.

President Hosni Mubarak said last night (1 February) that he would not seek a sixth term of office in September 2011, but that he would serve out the rest of his term working "to accomplish the necessary steps for the peaceful transfer of power."

However, this is not enough for many protesters, who this morning carried banners saying "Go on Friday" - the date of the next planned mass demonstration in the capital and elsewhere.

Mr Mubarak is believed to have been dismayed that his concession has not produced a diminution of support for the opposition, and pro-democracy supporters say that he has decided that tactics aimed at tarnishing the reputation of the protests, and stoking fears of 'chaos', are better than an all-out military and police assault.

It is a high risk strategy, because the degree of loyalty that can be expected from the army remains highly questionable. However, it is known that military chiefs fear disorder and uncertainty more than anything else. The use of agent provocateurs is seen as a way of getting them to come off the fence and on the side of 'law and order'.

In the afternoon, fist fighting took place over and around the army tanks, with their occupants doing nothing.

However, the anti-Mubarak protesters were back in control of Tahrir Square this evening.

The thugs have now dispersed into smaller neighbourhoods, with the aim of frightening citizens into pulling away from the demonstrations. Meanwhile, the police are threatening to water-canon the protesters "into oblivion".

[Ekk/3]

Keywords: egypt | mubarak
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