In its 16th day of protests, reports out of Cario illustrate a fever
pitch of anti-government fervor. Swelling the ranks of the anti-Mubarak
movement, the country's labor unions have gone on a nationwide strike
. On Tuesday, Egyptians flooded Tahrir Square in what may have been the largest demonstrations
yet. Painting the country's path forward in the starkest of terms, vice
president Omar Suleiman said demonstrators have two options: "dialogue"
or "coup." A this point, which is more likely? A Coup
In Suleiman's remarks, he said a coup could come from a military takeover, a populist uprising or from within his own regime.
In the case of a populist uprising, a coup would likely
hinge on the stamina of the opposition—a force that The Guardian's Peter Hallward
says is ever-growing. "With each new confrontation, the protesters have realized, and demonstrated, that they are more powerful than their
oppressors," he writes. "When they are prepared to act in sufficient
numbers with sufficient determination, the people have proved that
there's no stopping them." Reporting from the ground, Foreign Policy's Blake Hounshell
acknowledges the opposition's growing numbers. He says "the revolution
is not over" and that a "much larger proportion of women and children"
are joining the anti-Mubarak movement. Meanwhile, the leader of
the Democratic Front, an opposition group, has dismissed the idea of a
coup outright. “Talking of a coup is nonsense,” he told the Financial
Times. “Those people have not understood what is happening in the
country. A popular revolution has been going on for two weeks. Any talk
of a coup means a direct action against the revolution and against the
will of the people.”A Crackdown--Or Something Worse
If Mubarak can't satisfy protesters' demands, the status quo cannot hold, says Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour
a leader of a liberal opposition party who is holding talks with the
government. He suggests that a government-led crackdown could ensue. "We
are faced with two choices. Either to move forward with reform through
constitutional legitimate channels, or we're opening the door to
complete chaos or a military coup." He says the the Mubarak government
only needs seven days to implement the opposition's desired
constitutional changes, which include setting term limits and allowing a
wider swath of candidates to run for president. Neither of these
demands have been met. Another opposition leader
says Suleiman's words could only mean one thing: "He is threatening to
impose martial law, which means everybody in the square will be
smashed," he said. In the meantime, a journalist in Cairo is tweeting
that police have begun a crackdown outside of Cario: "The police is
cracking down brutally on the people in Kharga, Wadi el-Gedid Province.
Live ammunition is being used on wide scale."A Cooling
Egypt scholar and author of Egypt on the Bring Tarek Osman
says he doesn't expect immediate fireworks: "To a large extent, every
day brings slightly more security and stability. So it seems that the
scary scenarios about the post-Mubarak era are receding. We're
post-climax, to some extent. We are still in a transitional limbo, but
it's relatively safer than it was."
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