Praying at Tahrir Square
Photo: AP
Tantawi. Not wasting any time
Photo: Reuters
Egyptian soldiers. Wave of arrests
Photo: AP
Obama. Welcomes commitment to peace with Israel
Photo: AFP

Protestors pressure Egyptian army

As celebrations over Mubarak's downfall continue all weekend, military conveys stability, masses promise to monitor transfer to real freedom, and Obama pledges assistance. Israel welcomes commitment to peace treaty, while waiting for developments

The euphoria over the massive success of the popular uprising which led to the downfall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak continued Saturday as doubts began surfacing. The army has taken over and the protestors are monitoring every move on their way to freedom.


"We haven't danced so freely in 30 years," Siham Zakaria, told Ynet while celebrating in Cairo. "Now we will give the Higher Military Council time, but any mistake will prompt a renewal of the protests." Meanwhile, Israel is also monitoring the developments amid growing concerns.


Zakaria said "thousands of women have been dancing since last night to Saturday evening. We are happy to have reached this point. The Egyptian people have demands, and until now the Higher Military Council is working according to the people's requests and needs.


"They must fulfill all the demands urgently and fully, and this time the rulers will be under tight control."


The "new Egypt" was launched on Saturday. Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the head of the Higher Military Council, who became the acting ruler, held a series of meetings with the prime minister, ministers and legal officials.


Earlier, the army issued a calming statement, saying it would honor all the international treaties signed by Egypt.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomes the military's statement, followed by US President Barack Obama, who – as opposed to Netanyahu – had demanded that Mubarak resign.


The president welcomes commitments from Egypt's new military rulers to eventually hand power to an elected civilian government and abide by a peace treaty with Israel, the White House said in a statement Saturday night.


Obama phoned discussed the situation with the leaders of Britain, Turkey and Jordan, where anti-government protests have been held recently. He reaffirmed his support for the people of Egypt and pledged US assistance and financial support as Egypt moves toward free and fair elections, the White House said.


'Mubarak must return stolen money'

The ongoing celebrations in Egypt were calmer on Saturday, and the Al-Arabiya network reported that more than 90% of the protestors had already left Cairo's Tahrir Square. Some of the leaders of the popular uprising said they were setting up a committee "to protect the revolution and negotiate with the Higher Military Council."


Masoud Mahsan, who was rejoicing on the streets, said that "the Egyptian people are still celebrating after the resignation of Mubarak the liar and thief and criminal, but this doesn't mean we're going to give up easily.


"We'll continue to report to the square until we get what we want – first of all halting the work of the Shura Council, sacking everyone linked to the Mubarak regime and working on clean and free elections."


Said Mahmoud added that prayers were held Saturday in memory of the "shahidim" (martyrs) killed in the demonstrations. "Their blood won't be ignored. We must punish anyone who caused their death through the new regime," he said.


Mahmoud also expressed the feelings of many Egyptians: "Mubarak must return the money he stole from the people. If he keeps the money, he'll continue to feed his family at the poor people's expense."


Soldiers encircle Tahrir Square (Photo: AP)


The army is making efforts to adapt itself to the protestors. Naiel Adal, an Egyptian soldier, told Ynet that massive forces were working to find "the criminals who caused the killing and stole property from the houses and businesses.


"We have arrested many people and will continue until we clean Egypt of all this dirt. I personally arrested a soldier who said Mubarak's people ordered him to do it."


Meanwhile, Egypt's chief prosecutor banned former Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif from leaving the country, a day after the overthrow of President Mubarak, state news agency MENA reported.


The prosecutor also banned Habib al-Adly, the widely despised former interior minister, from traveling and froze his assets, MENA said.


The two ministers were sacked along with the rest of the government in a failed bid by Mubarak to placate protesters in the early days of the uprising that led to his resignation on Friday, ending his 30-year reign.


The Muslim Brotherhood movement has declared that is not seeking power. "The Muslim Brotherhood is not looking for personal gains and will therefore not run for the presidency and won't aspire to reach a parliament majority."


New peace move now?

Israel, meanwhile, has instructed its ambassadors abroad not to comment on the matter. A senior state official told Ynet on Saturday that "bringing down a government for democratic reasons is not an insignificant matter in the Middle East. There have been cases in which regimes were overthrown or and replaced on the backdrop of hatred towards the West and Israel, but the reasons for the upheaval in Egypt are not marginal.


"This is an initial stage, so it's completely unclear what they will build there. It could end well, with a regime which will honor the agreements and maintain stability, and it could also end badly. Tantawi instead of Mubarak is not exactly democracy."


Solidarity rally in Nazareth (Photo: Hagai Aharon)


As Israel is trying to maintain its relations with Egypt, Tantawi spoke on the phone with Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Saturday. Jerusalem is also examining the regional impacts.


According to the state official, "What is happening there will influence the entire Arab world. We must see if there will be stability or chaos, democracy or dictatorship. In any event, we mustn't panic right now. Israel is a strong and stable country and must not rush into anything."


The prime minister instructed the defense establishment last week to speed up the construction of the fence on the Israel-Egypt border. Some political officials have estimated that in light of the developments, Israel would have to increase the defense budget and prepare for the possibility of an unsympathetic government in Egypt.


A senior minister said Saturday evening that "we are old and strong enough not to make hasty decisions. If something negative happens we'll have to reexamine everything, but we must remember that the Egyptian army is not in the condition to fight us now."


Apart from that, he noted, "where will we bring money from at this time to increase the security budget? Will we take it from the education, from the social services? There's no reason to panic."


During this period of instability, of all times, Israel is also looking into the need to renew peace talks with the Palestinians in order to prevent a scenario of a radical takeover and undermining the stability.


"We mustn't lost control," the state official said. "The current situation cannot continue. The stalemate is not good for Israel, and Israel must make efforts to lead processes."


Attila Somfalvi, AFP and The Associated Press contributed to this report




פרסום ראשון: 02.13.11, 07:47
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