Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators have once again engulfed Cairo's Tahrir Square in protest against the ruling military council. The rally involves supporters from exact opposite ends of the political spectrum, with secular activists rubbing shoulders with Islamists.
To discuss this latest display of civil unrest, joining me now is James Corbett, a political analyst with a special interest in the Arab uprisings.
A range of Egypt’s political forces has joined the large-scale protests against the ruling military on Tahrir Square. With the SCAF reluctant to give up power and the people still pushing for true democracy, Egypt seems to be on a collision course.
Tens of thousands of liberals, leftists and Islamists all protested on Friday on Cairo’s landmark Tahrir Square. They accuse the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces of manipulating the upcoming presidential elections in order to hold on to power.
Most banners seen at the rally demanded the departure of figures from the former regime, primarily, Ahmed Shafiq, a former senior commander in the Egyptian Air Force, and ex-Arab League chief, Amr Moussa, both of whom are running for president, Al-Ahram newspaper reports.
Freelance journalist and writer Bel Trew reporting from Cairo says that there have not been so many people on Tahrir Square since the anniversary of Mubarak’s ouster in January.
Even though the parliamentary elections have taken place, Egypt so far has seen little democratic change, she stresses. “People haven’t seen any social justice, they haven’t seen changes. We are still essentially under emergency law. People are being imprisoned for their political beliefs,” Trew explained in an interview with RT.
However, the competing agendas of the different political forces have blocked attempts by protest organizers to form a united front. The liberals and the leftists have accused the Muslim Brotherhood, which now dominates the parliament, of abandoning the revolution and allying itself with the ruling military. Liberal MP Amr Hamzawy even called on the group to withdraw its presidential candidate, Mohamed Morsi.
Muslim Brotherhood supporters responded by claiming that the majority of the protesters at the Tahrir were actually Islamists.
The presidential elections are scheduled to take place on May 23.
Events in Egypt seem to be moving towards a collision, believes Jacob Hornberger, the president of the Future of Freedom Foundation. “The military doesn’t want to give up its privileged position in society, the protesters want a genuine democratic system,” he said.
He explained to RT that the people of Egypt are uniting in protest despite their differences as they realize that in order to have this genuine democratic system they have to make the military subordinate to civilian authority. “They have common interest here. As long military remains in force all of them lose,” Hornberger concluded.
Political analyst James Corbett believes that there is a large foreign interest in what is now happening in Egypt. The West is determined to prevent any type of secularist nationalist movement similar to Nasserism from coming to power in Egypt. “There is deep Western and outside interest in seeing that that type of nationalism does not come to the fore in Egypt right now.”
Going back to 1950s one can detect a long history of CIA involvement with the Muslim Brotherhood in using the group as a tool for the destabilization of national secularist movements, Corbett said.