On Wednesday night Hosni Mubarak reportedly lost patience with “the Egyptian people” and in the interest of “the country” unleashed the secret service apparatus on protesters.
The army, which pledged not to use force against the legitimate demands of “our great people” stood by and watched as hundreds were injured and 8 are reported dead.
Everyone was shocked and scared! Calls for security over political reform were heard.
It is important not to give in to the threat of violence and continue the pressure for viable political reform.
Today has been called a Day of Departure as mass protesters have gathered again with people dancing in the streets calling for Mubarak to step down and call free elections, as religious and political Arab leaders have endorsed the protests.
US administration has been sending mixed messages but has reportedly increased the pressure on the regime.
Richard Branson has called for business leaders to support democratisation in Egypt, as that is good for business.
At the same time there have been calls, both inside and outside Egypt, for the US and other foreign influences not to interfere and allow Egyptians to resolve the situation on their own. As much as this would be the most desirable situation, it is also an illusion.
The US gives annually an average of 2 billion USD a year since 1979. In 2010, 1.3 billion USD went to strengthen Egyptian forces versus 250 million USD in economic aid. The Obama administration has asked Congress to approve similar sums for the 2011 fiscal year (read more from Reuters).
Clearly the influence of the US secured by billions of taxpayers money is not going to go away.
European leaders have also remained quiet or confusing. However, they host the most substantial number of immigrants from the Middle East, which creates enormous opportunities, as well as challenges. It also equips them with a wide range of interests, instruments and connections.
The way the US and Europe react to the unfolding Egyptian revolution will to a large extent influence the course of events later on and will have a great impact on the future of the democratic process in the Middle East, in particular with regard to the threat from Islamic fundamentalism. If they let people’s legitimate desire for change falter there will be very little positive outcome in the future.
And in the meantime, Yemen’s capital Sana’a saw over 20 000 protesters today who came out for a “day of rage”.