A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Remembering January 28, 2011: The Army Steps In

Four years ago today, still in the early days of the Egyptian Revolution, the Egyptian Army moved in to separate protesters and the Central Security Forces. In one of my posts on that day, I commented:
Who won today's running confrontations? Clearly, the demonstrators believe they did. Clearly too, the police and Central Security Forces lost. The Army had to enter Cairo for the first time since 1986, and downtown for the first time since 1977. Exactly what the current dynamic is isn't clear, because no one knows if the Army will be used against the demonstrators. It apparently did little to protect the NDP headquarters, taking up positions at the Foreign Ministry and the Radio/TV building, both close by. Mubarak's decision to hang tough means we need to watch a bit more.
I spelled out a number of possible scenarios, none of which played out exactly, except that the Army intervention did portend the officer corps pushing Mubarak to leave.  In those heady days demonstrators welcomed the Army, swarmed around the APCs, and came up with the slogan, "The Army and People are One Hand."

The next day, January 29, this dramatic video was made, showing three Army APCs moving to put themselves between the demonstrators and the police:

January 28 in retrospect was a critical turning point in the Revolution: The Army, led by what was soon to emerge as the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, was taking control of the situation. In the end it would be the Army, not the protesters, that determined when Mubarak had to leave.

Later the enthusiasm among the protesters for the Army would sour, of course.

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