Press TV talks with Mark Glenn, writer and political commentator from Coeur d'Alene, to assess whether or not we are seeing some departure from the era of former ruler Hosni Mubarak.
Press TV: Footage coming in live from Egypt show that the Egyptian people out on the streets protesting are still unhappy about what is going on there; with the fact that a lot of the elements connected to Mubarak regime are still in power, but little by little apparently things are changing: the latest move being a replacement prime minister who has now appointed new ministers for the foreign affairs and interior portfolios. This seems a sign that Hosni Mubarak's old guard are being removed from the cabinet.
These recent moves by Prime Minister Essam Sharaf in appointing new ministers -- do you think we are seeing a departure from the Mubarak era? Is this really happening?
Mark Glenn: No I do not see this as a departure from the Mubarak era. I see it simply as a shell game at this point. Remember the military is still in control in Egypt and no matter who is moved from whatever post they formerly held to a new prime minister-ship or whatever post that they're given, the people who are still holding the guns are still in control.
So this, in my opinion, is an exercise in posturing and making it look as if things are moving along according to the democratic process there. But in general, there has not been a revolution yet in Egypt; we have seen a protest take place; we have seen the removal of a dictator, but the system that existed before with Mubarak in power is still the system that exists today.
Press TV: This is obviously not what the people (the Egyptians) want, but why is it that a revered system in the country called the army that took neither the protesters' side nor Mubarak's side, and it is actually a much respected organization, wants to distort its image by its recent moves?
Mark Glenn: Well we have to keep in mind that the job of the army is to do as it's told, to salute, say “Yes Sir”, and to execute whatever orders it's given. This is the job of armies for better or for worse. We have to remember that these men are well trained to do what they're doing and particularly they have been well-trained by the US and Israel - something that Hilary Clinton was bragging about earlier this weekend when she was talking about the extensive training that these men had received at the cost of the United States.
Obviously it puts these men in a very difficult position - they are Egyptians; they have friends, they have family who live in the country, but at the end of the day, as history has proven time and again, unfortunately men who are trained to follow orders usually they do wind up following orders - we can see this taking place in next door Libya. And if things get out of hand in Egypt unfortunately this is what I think we will see take place there as well.
If the protesters do not return to their jobs, to their quiet little lives that they were living before all of this protest erupted, if a new government is not found that meets with the approval of the people, you will see the army being utilized in cracking down on these protesters.
Press TV: Are you trying to indicate that what we're seeing is a movement from one dictatorship to another one?
Mark Glenn: I think that the dictator that was in place two months ago is the same dictator that's in place today even though Mubarak has left, the same system is in place and in general they are getting their orders from the US and from Israel. Now, there's no question about the fact, we can assume that there are people in the Egyptian military who are not comfortable with this, we may see some defections as we saw with Muammar Gaddafi's Libya, but in general it is the same system.
I hate to have to throw cold water on all of this, but we have to remember that a revolution has not been fought, a revolution has not been won, a dictator has been forced out of power, but the system that he sat on top of, still continues to sit on top of the Egyptian people.
Press TV: So what are these gestures about wanting to bring Mubarak and some of his elements to a court? What are they trying to do?
Mark Glenn: It's just more of the typical business we see these days with any well written script. Bringing Mubarak to justice and some of his other people who were responsible for looting Egypt for 30 years and depriving the people of their democratic rights; this is just a gesture making it appear that Egypt really is on the mend and things are going to be different.
Unless something truly revolutionary happens, such as this revolution actually does find itself being led by a singular person or a singular party with a definitive idea in mind as to where they want to go; and if they have some big backing in that part of the world - either Iran or China or Russia, or some other big player who is able to fund them and to give them the material that they need in order to bring about a true revolution. Short of that I think all we see taking place is just a very elaborate ballet dance where all of the moves are choreographed and scripted in order to keep the audience attentive and compliant.
Press TV: There have been protests over the past two days mainly targeting security buildings. How would you comment on this move? Why do people so badly want to enter these buildings and bring out the documents? What's gone wrong in Egypt over these years that have given people this momentum?
Mark Glenn: The documents are extremely rich with all sorts of information, not only the brutal tactics that obviously would have been employed against the Egyptian people in the course of the 30 year dictatorship, but also all the strings attaching Egypt to Israel, to the US and probably to other Western governments in terms of tactics that are used in extracting information from people.
It is absolutely a treasure trove of information that would be extremely embarrassing to the remnant of what is left of the Mubarak regime, particularly if this information were made public across the Middle East. We cannot necessarily count on the fawning corporate media to publish the more salacious and more embarrassing tidbits of information that would be found in the buildings, but we can certainly count on other forms of media, the alternative media and particularly the media in the Middle East to make those details extremely public.
At the same time we also have to keep in mind that in next door Libya the people are not just resorting to protesting in the streets, they are out there with guns and military armaments, whatever they can get their hands on and so to a certain extent the Egyptian people watching what is taking place in nearby Libya, that this has emboldened them to step out from simply protesting and holding up slogans and things like that and they're actually getting more into a hands-on position of trying to grab the reigns of this revolution and to make sure that it does not get hijacked by these Western forces who would like to things return to the status quo.
Press TV: Today and yesterday we had thugs armed with rocks, fire bombs, machetes and they charged at the (unarmed) protesters. It was not immediately known who had sent them. You know, this is the same thing we saw during the last days of Mubarak before his collapse. This seems to me to be a part of the Egyptian political culture that has not changed. How would you comment on that?
Mark Glenn: We have to consider the possibility that whoever these armed thugs are they could be partisans, they could be plain-clothes security operatives working for the regime, we simply don't know, but what we do know for sure is that obviously wanted to make a point, which was they wanted to exert violence - from the reports I was reading they were using rocks and knives certainly not sophisticated weapons, which would indicate at least on the service that they were not being supported by the government, but again we have to also consider the possibility that that was the image that certain players wanted to have conveyed; grassroots support for the regime.
In either case, given the events in Libya, we can close the door on the idea that the events in Egypt are going to remain, up to this point as they have been, the peaceful gestures that have basically been done through slogans and words and protests, that we will see the kind of violence that we have seen in Libya spill over into these other regions because at the end of the day as anyone who has studied history will tell you, power comes out of the point of a gun, and whoever is holding onto that gun is going to make the final decision.
I think the Egyptian people having been at this now for close to two months and having seen no real change take place, I think they realize that in order to fight a revolution it is going to have to be exactly that.
And in the case of our own country here in the US, it took us seven years and it involved guns and cannons and all kinds of things, and we had to have foreign help; assistance from the French and from the Dutch in order to supply us with the material that we needed and I think it would be naive of us to assume that by simply logging on to Facebook that somehow we're going to be able to remake the map of the Middle East, politically speaking, and I think that the Egyptian people have learned that as well.