Egypt: If Mubarak resigns, he should take Egypt's army with him
As we await Hosni Mubarak's address to Egypt and whether he'll resign, another question looms: If he does, will it make much of a difference in a country where the army is a "ruling caste"? In Thursday's Opinion pages, Daniel Williams, a senior researcher in the emergencies division of Human Rights Watch, paints a grim picture that's based in part on his own dealings with Egypt's not-so-clean army.
Where does the army stand in the epic struggle for Egypt's future? Will the "transition" out of Mubarak's 29-year rule lead to an end to political repression, torture, fake elections and strict curbs on speech, assembly and association? Or is the outcome more likely to be Mubarak-ism without Mubarak, with military overseers preserving the old system under a new guise?
Williams isn't hopeful.
Egypt's future, even without Mubarak, will be bleak unless it eliminates abusive practices by the country's security forces. […] To reduce suspicion that, in military hands, the brutal past is but prologue, the government needs to immediately protect basic rights, end arbitrary arrests and ill-treatment in custody, and ensure free expression and association, including keeping open Internet and communications channels throughout the country. This means lifting without delay the 30-year-old emergency law that has long been the legal justification to curb the rights of the Egyptian people.
-- Alexandra Le Tellier
Photo: Egyptian anti-Mubarak protesters sit down in front of a line of soldiers as people are still gathered at Tahrir Square, in Cairo on Feb. 5, 2011. Credit: Felipe Trueba / EPA