2 million turn out in Cairo: army refuses to use force against protestors

Rick Moran
Any concerns that the protestors call for a million people to turn out and march in Tahrir Square today would fall short of expectations can be put to rest.

Al Jazeera is reporting that at least 2 million turned out on a day of protest and general strike. Other outlets report huge crowds converging on the square from several directions, swelling the number beyond a million. In addition, massive demonstrations in other key Egyptian cities of hundreds of thousands easily make this the day of biggest turnout against Mubarak's regime.



If all that wasn't enough, the Beeb is reporting that the Army has issued a statement saying they will not use force against the demonstrators and their "legitimate" concerns. If not an outright defection to the side of the demonstrators, it leaves Mubarak with little choice.

No doubt there are enough troops who would fire on the crowd if Mubarak chose to go that route. The dictator has surrounded himself with fanatically loyal members of the military who are now responsible for his personal safety. What the rest of the army would do in that situation is open to question. A military coup would be possible under those circumstances. This possibility argues against a violent crackdown.

Some observers say that Mubarak's reign can now be measured in hours.

I'm note sure that's true, but the dictator is certainly running out of options. His call for dialogue with the opposition has fallen on deaf ears. The country is paralyzed, the stock market is crashing, the nation's bond rating has just been lowered again, Cairo is running out of basic foodstuffs, and foreign governments are urging him to "listen to the people" - a euphemism for resigning and going into exile.

All the momentum points to a Mubarak exit. When - and if - that will happen depends on how dearly Mubarak values his own regime as opposed to the lives of its citizens.

 
Any concerns that the protestors call for a million people to turn out and march in Tahrir Square today would fall short of expectations can be put to rest.

Al Jazeera is reporting that at least 2 million turned out on a day of protest and general strike. Other outlets report huge crowds converging on the square from several directions, swelling the number beyond a million. In addition, massive demonstrations in other key Egyptian cities of hundreds of thousands easily make this the day of biggest turnout against Mubarak's regime.



If all that wasn't enough, the Beeb is reporting that the Army has issued a statement saying they will not use force against the demonstrators and their "legitimate" concerns. If not an outright defection to the side of the demonstrators, it leaves Mubarak with little choice.

No doubt there are enough troops who would fire on the crowd if Mubarak chose to go that route. The dictator has surrounded himself with fanatically loyal members of the military who are now responsible for his personal safety. What the rest of the army would do in that situation is open to question. A military coup would be possible under those circumstances. This possibility argues against a violent crackdown.

Some observers say that Mubarak's reign can now be measured in hours.

I'm note sure that's true, but the dictator is certainly running out of options. His call for dialogue with the opposition has fallen on deaf ears. The country is paralyzed, the stock market is crashing, the nation's bond rating has just been lowered again, Cairo is running out of basic foodstuffs, and foreign governments are urging him to "listen to the people" - a euphemism for resigning and going into exile.

All the momentum points to a Mubarak exit. When - and if - that will happen depends on how dearly Mubarak values his own regime as opposed to the lives of its citizens.