2 March 2011

Situation in Egypt

The Camp David regime in Egypt is still very much intact, all that has happened so far is that Mubarak has gone and his powers have been transferred to 1. the defense minister since 1991 and former head of Mubarak's Presidential Guard Muhammad Tantawi, and 2. The Prime Minister Ahmad Shafiq just appointed by Mubarak. The Egyptians are not dumb however and know they need to push on if there's going to be any real change.

But there are class divisions emerging that are stronger than in other Arab countries. The representatives of the middle classes have the "we've had our fun now we need to shut up and go home attitude" and these people are being constantly referenced in the Western media as representative. For example Wael Ghonim the Google executive (he's the Aaron Porter of the Egyptian uprising) is very much in this camp, he was heckled out of Tahrir Square last week when he tried to turn up people are really sick of him and his compromising stances and trying to impress the Americans. The middle classes are getting really worried and angry now that the far more radical elements mostly the working classes of the country are continuing to demand the overthrow of the regime and are still demonstrating, going on strike (the military has banned all strikes now) and occupying and in their minds damaging the economy, and that their momentum is growing. The middle classes will hit back fiercely.

Most people in Egypt live on less than £430 a year along with working long hours and living in appalling conditions. These Egyptians see this uprising as their one opportunity to change the economic structure of the country and allow themselves the chance to have a decent life for themselves and their children and if they don't seize it now it'll be lost for a very long time. However the middle classes (i.e. 20-25% of the population) feel that they benefit from this system and that demands from workers for higher wages are just selfish and will ruin the economy (and the demands for nationalisation of key industries are just beyond the pale for them). The government is greatly exaggerating the economic damage done to the country by the uprising and keep repeating constantly that if things aren't stopped now now the country will collapse (kind of similar to the British government's scaremongering line actually) and now is the time to rebuild. The middle classes are mostly buying this. They also have a very prejudiced view of working classes deeming them to be backward, uneducated and uncivilised, and panic at idea of them gaining any real political influence. Both sides have irreconciable goals, are determined to achieve them and are not in the mood for compromises, and both are feeling desperate and are willing to fight hard. Expect to see more conflict in the coming months.

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