By John Ballard
The reporting crew on the scene took a side street away from Tahrir Square and found something unexpected. A disciplined line of regular Egyptian Army was standing in a living wall, blocking angry protesters who were trying to get at a group of police on the other side of the line.
It was clear that the army, much better trained and disciplined, was in this case attempting to cool a really explosive situation. According to the report they ultimately failed in that attempt and the result of multiple casualties on all sides, police and protesters alike.
And when the injured were taken to the makeshift medical facilities near Tahrir they were greeted as heroes. This four-minute video (after a 30-second ad) gets to the interesting part about a minute in.
>> reporter: minutes later protesters started throwing stones. up went the riot shields, but the army held fire. then more stones. police in black fired volley after volley of tear gas right over the soldiers' heads.
we heard soldiers telling the police to stop.
everyone started to choke. so soldiers helped the demonstrators. with a gas mask on we jumped into an ambulance. a policeman was gagging on the gas he fired, so was a woman, a demonstrator. the ambulance streamed into tahrir square with the injured.
they were greeted like heroes. and the crowd's demand to topple the military only grew stronger. later this week could be decisive. they're planning another million person demonstration after friday prayer.
The report ended with what can only be called a piece of agitprop, a reference to the Muslim Brotherhood which has the same effect on the majority of viewers as the oft-repeated specter of a nuclear conflict with Iran. Up to that point NBC was on to something important and instructive.
I'm still waiting for the media to report the real reasons so many Egyptians want to do away with military rule, namely the resumption of arbitrary arrests, beatings and intimidation of bloggers and others pushing the case for real democracy. Military trials of civilians, inappropriately harsh sentences and detentions that are a transparent attempt on the part of the military to silence or intimidate outspoken voices are creating exactly the wrong results.
Another group that very likely has a role in the demonstrations is a group we once called "super patriots," a militant segment of the population who are like extreme sports fans, mostly looking to kick some ass.
I have come across the term ultras to describe them. From the context of that word they appear to have little or no appreciation of anything other than they hate Jews, Christians and anyone else that ain't a Real Egyptian. Something like our own group of ersatz-Conservative crazies that have captured the GOP -- same mentality but more violent.
Most of the traditional Egyptian political forces lost out in the bloody battle to recover Tahrir Square, which has become the source of legitimacy in Egypt ever since the 25th January. However, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis may in fact be the biggest losers, after their million man march which they called for last Friday, in a foolish display of power that seems to have provoked the very forces that carried the flame of the January 25th revolution.
The political incompetence evident in the Egyptian transitional period encompasses all traditional political powers, including the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis who appear to be exploiting the erosion of confidence between the masses and the military council, the organization presently governing the interim period. The same goes for the ruling authority which has handled the situation with utter idiocy, having used force to break up several hundred protesters following the end of the Brotherhood and Salafi million (or half-a-million) man march last Friday. This led to the tragic situation with dozens of casualties falling, plus numerous attacks in Tahrir Square and the surrounding streets, not to mention the intensified demands for an immediate power transfer.
[Much more at the link...]