By Patrick O’Connor, wsws.org, 3 February 2011Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak yesterday mobilised thousands of pro-regime thugs, provocateurs and plain clothes police against demonstrators demanding an end to his dictatorship. At least five people were killed, though the final death toll will likely be significantly higher, and hundreds more were injured, many seriously.
The calculated provocation was facilitated by the military, which allowed the violent attacks to proceed throughout the day. Pro-Mubarak forces were effectively escorted by the army into central Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the focal point for anti-regime protests, just hours after military leaders issued a statement demanding that demonstrators desist and “restore normal life.” The violence is aimed at intimidating and dividing the revolutionary forces in Egypt and creating the conditions for the military to more directly intervene.
Senior commanders have signalled their support for Mubarak’s plan to stay in power until September. This would allow ample time for military and intelligence personnel, working hand in glove with their American counterparts, to prepare a rigged ballot to anoint Vice President Omar Suleiman or another “safe pair of hands” as Mubarak’s successor.