Egypt (video): Army intervenes to protect protesters from police

Video Link (via John Perry Barlow)


    1. That isn’t exactly what a “popular Coup d’état” looks like(particularly all the “You, dumbass with the rocks, get behind the APCs and stop fucking with the police!” themed shoving) and general lack of heavily armed soldiers crushing the cops like bugs; but it certainly does seem that the army has a longer fuse and much less enthusiasm for busting the skulls of their fellow-citizens than the cops do…

  1. I’m so used to seeing footage of police pushing, shoving, striking and trampling protesters; it’s almost surreal to see those military guys acting so calmly and patiently.

  2. It seems that Egypt has reaching its “tipping point”. Hopefully it does not end as the one in China did some time back. When the rich and powerful get too rich and powerful then the people take back what rightfully belongs to them. Good luck to the People of all nations and may there be a minimum of violence, although that is not likely.

    “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”
    -Charles Dickens (Tale of Two Cities)

  3. Maybe there is more to this video that explains it but to me it just looks like the army is protecting the police by preventing protesters from forming a mob and pushing them back when the protesters get close enough to throw rocks.

    The police have guns, but if enough people rush then the guns can only get so many before the police would be overwhelmed. With fighting vehicles in then they have added support of machine guns, plus extra support from troops.

    1. If that were the case then not only would the Army be getting more involved in suppressing the protesters they wouldn’t be more or less sitting around in amongst them.

      Also consider the fact of the close proximity of the Army and the protesters. The Army have effectively denied the police and security forces the ability to fire live rounds or tear gas in fear that they could hit the Army. Whether this is intentional or not remains to be seen.

  4. Al Jazeera was tweeting on unconfirmed word that the army was on the side of the
    People. I get the feeling they may be on neither but more so the peoples as the very likely winner here will be the people. I hope!!! I know. Go Cairo!!!

  5. Wow, detroit sure is a mess. Oh wait, that’s Eqypt. Hard to tell with the American M113 APC’s and American tear gas shells being fired at people fighting corrupt law enforcement who beat someone to death and went unpunished, and struggling to regain lost rights from a corrupt government that abuses it’s power, it’s pretty similar.

    Well, move forward in time a little and we’ll get to post our own videos while the world ponders why our government was stupid enough to turn off the internet.

    Think how different this would be if the Egyptions had gun rights? It would make for a bloodier revolution, but much less one sided.

    1. Oh dear.

      There is a Canadian band called ‘The Arrogant Worms’ who wrote a lovely song called ‘Wouldn’t It Be Great If Everyone Had A Gun’
      You should go listen to it.
      In most civilised parts of the world, guns are considered a Bad Thing. People are, in fact, actively discouraged from killing each other with guns, or knives, or anything else they have handy. I understand the point you’re making – that the battle is somewhat uneven – but the concept of heavily armed Civilians going up against heavily armed Police while a heavily armed Army stands between them is considered *completely fucking insane* by most people.

      It’s called Escalation. Making a situation vastly worse by the simple act of giving people the ability to make it so.

      Of course, if you believe that everyone in this video should be dead in the name of equality then I can and will not deny you the right to that belief.

      1. undeadbydawn,

        I think it is likely that a lot of those protesters have access to guns but they are leaving them at home because they are not completely fucking insane and they know that small arms will only kill the police on the street and the President of Egypt would be perfectly fine with that.

  6. There are several ways to interpret this. A cynic might suspect the army of whiteknighting in order to legitimize its future influence on the post-revolutionary settlement.
    But I’ve just become so disenchanted with the general state of things it’s hard for me to perceive anything positively anymore…

  7. This isn’t that hard to interpret. The Army APC’s are trying to form a block between the protesters and the police. The third APC then moves to be between the protesters and the edge of the building. Two soldiers get out and move to the left side of the street and start pointing right; they seem to be telling the crowd to turn and go up the alley (turn the crowd aside) instead of straight at the police and confrontation. When this doesn’t work, and the protesters just use the armored vehicles as shields instead of deflecting the protest the third APC re-configures itself to the left side of the street to protect (and block) the entire width of the street.

    You could say that the Army is “protecting” the protesters from the police, but it would be hard to say that the Army and protesters are on the same side. The Army seems to be trying to prevent ALL hostile confrontation that might prolong the protests.

  8. It does look like the army is trying to keep the protesters form getting murdered by the police. That’s possible.

    Something that folks here in the States don’t get is that in most other countries; the military is very different than/from the police or national police. Here the national guard and the pigs will both kill and maim demonstrators. The only difference being that while guardsman will feel guilty about following the orders, the pork can’t wait to get in there. In El Salvador they are literally like cats and dogs. In Ecuador the army is looking at the borders, the national police are looking for bribes. In Peru, it’s the army that’s scary to travelers and civilians. Both are pretty honest in Bolivia but the military has always been kind of ineffective. In Chile the Carabineros (national police) have historically been honest and honorable while the army has murdered Chileans for being college professors, musicians, and union members. There’s other examples.

    Whether it’s for some Machiavellian reason or decency; i think that the Army was working against the police in that case and there are more living demonstrators today because of that.

    Thanks John Perry for posting that.

  9. It’s good to see that some military men in Egypt have some sense here.

    It might be a bit paranoid of me, but what are the chances that this was staged to maybe get the people on the side of the military (which is still controlled by the president) in order to get them back on side?

  10. FWIW, in a recent NPR interview with an Egyptian academic here in the US (I know several explicitly here to avoid the gov’t at home) it was observed that the Egyptian military enjoys tremendous respect. The interviewee was absolutely convinced that the army would protect the people.

    1. Here’s hoping. Juan Cole, an American academic who’s a highly regarded expert on the Middle East, sounds less sanguine:

      this is one of the things that drives this regime’s repressiveness, is that it is afraid of Muslim fundamentalist movements. Whether they are radical—and there have been a number of important radical movements in Egypt that have resorted to violence—or whether they are social and political, as with the large and important Muslim Brotherhood movement, the regime is very afraid—and this comes out from U.S. cables that have been released by WikiLeaks—that the Muslim Brotherhood will find a way to take over. And, you know, when Khomeini overthrew the Shah in Iran in 1979, the first thing they did was execute a lot of the generals. And the generals in Egypt are bound and determined that a similar fate does not await them.”

  11. According to the New York Times, if I’m recapping correctly, what’s going on in Egypt is that all men serve in the Army, so the Army is actually very populist. They’re very much on the side of the protesters, with anti-government slogans painted on some tanks and soldiers generally trying to protect the protesters from the police, who at this point have largely with drawn from the city back to the presidential palace.

    Protesters and Army are working together to do some things, like protect the National Museum from looters. This isn’t formal; it’s that the soldiers were called out, and they’re doing what seems right to them in the various situations. It doesn’t sound like there are general orders that have been issued to side with the protesters.

  12. It’s pretty simple. For the police to win, they have to charge the protesters and scatter them. For the protesters to win, they just have to stay in place and keep protesting. The army is clearly taking the side of the protesters, even if they are preventing them from charging at the police out of sheer pissed-off-ness.

  13. I am amazed to see some of the protesters throwing objects at the police and the police not using that as a reason to attack. If this was in the states, things would have gotten pretty nasty after the first throw.

    Would they have attacked violently if the army was not there?

    I wish this post was accompanied with more explanation.

  14. Hmm – I’d say the soldiers there were trying to keep both angry sides apart. Clearly the citizens see them as not being hostile – hence the way the unarmed soldiers are able to shepherd the rock throwers back behind the APCs. However, I wouldn’t necessarily translate that to them being on the side of the protesters – they could simply be trying to calm the situation overall. Even if they are, it could simply be them acting without orders on their own initiative – a situation that could change.

    Overall I’m in the “it would be great if Egypt could have a real democracy, but not if Mubarak’s fall leads to another islamist regime along the lines of Iran. That would be super bad.

  15. not sure what’s going on here exactly, but it sure seems the army is a lot more calm and in control than the cops are. should be required viewing for anyone who thinks that cops and soldiers are somehow “bretheren”. two completely different species.

  16. Be careful what you wish for. What if your wish for a true democracy in Egypt is granted, and it ends up with a popularly elected islamist government? Like nearly occurred next door in Algeria in 1991.

  17. Egypt uses conscription therefore the Army personnel are just 18 year old kids, just like the protesters. The police, on the other hand, are paid bandits and thugs. It’s the same in many countries. Army tends to take the line of the people whereas police prefers to bash heads. Where both are professional, the only difference between the army and the police is their choice of weapon.

  18. Is it possible the Police are trying to maintain “Law and Order” (Yeah, well…) and the Military are Defending the People? – protecting the nation by protecting the citizens… In this case, the actions seems oppositely polarized, but I can’t take it to mean that the Military is on the side of the protesters completely.

    Marvelous and responsible action, no doubt, to maintain the peace.

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