The Middle East Channel

Egyptian revolution anniversary marked by celebrations and protests

Egyptian revolution anniversary marked by celebrations and protests

Egyptian youth activists planned a sit-in in Tahrir Square demanding a transfer to civilian rule and vowing to remain in the square in Cairo until the military council, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, yields power. They were part of the crowds amassed -- some in protest and some in celebration -- throughout Egypt on January 25, and tens of thousands of people gathered in Tahrir Square to mark the one-year anniversary of the revolution that led to the toppling of former President Hosni Mubarak. Activists protested saying the ruling military has failed to realize the revolution's demands, claiming nothing has changed since Mubarak. Attiya Mohammed Attiya, a protester present in Tahrir said, "I am here for a second revolution. The military council is made of remnants of the Mubarak regime. We will only succeed when we remove them from power." There were no police or troops posted at Tahrir Square over concerns that their presence would provoke violence. While no major clashes were reported, events were not without tension, as the Muslim Brotherhood and anti-military protesters ran competing soundstages.


  • The Arab League mission in Syria continued without Gulf observers as security forces were deployed to Douma, a Damascus suburb plagued with clashes.
  • Two bomb attacks killed 13 people in Iraq including two policemen and their families in their home south of Baghdad.
  • China criticized the European Union's ban on Iranian oil as "not constructive." Meanwhile, Iranian legislators are drafting a bill that would preemptively cut off oil exports to Europe.
  • The Syrian Arab Red Crescent's vice president, Abdulrazak Jbeiro, was shot and killed while driving from Damascus to Idlib, however the "circumstances are still unclear."
  • Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said "exploratory talks" have come to an end as the deadline for border proposals expires today.

Daily Snapshot

CAIRO, EGYPT -- Egyptian people continue to demonstrate in Tahrir Square on January 26, 2012 in Cairo, Egypt. Tens of thousands of Egyptian people gathered yesterday to celebrate the anniversary of the start of the uprising which ended President Hosni Mubaraks rule (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images). 

Arguments & Analysis

'Can Israel stop Iran's nuke effort?' (Karl Vick, Time)

"Cordesman reckons Israel probably has enough aircraft and enough range to do serious damage to 10 to 12 of Iran's atomic facilities. But damaged labs can be rebuilt, he notes, and Iran has announced plans for 10 new enrichment sites-further dispersing later-generation centrifuges in places smaller, harder to locate and easier to harden. The issue, Cordesman says, is not simply capability but consequences. "If anyone tells you this is sort of binary, either ‘Yeah, they can do it' or ‘Oh, no, they can't,' they don't know what they're talking about," he says. "Israel is going to act strategically. It's going to look at the political outcome of what it says and does, not simply measure this in terms of some computer game and what the immediate tactical impact is.""

'January 25th and the Egypt the revolution has made' (Steven A. Cook, Foreign Affairs)

"This perverse political order in which institutions are rigged to serve the elite remains intact. Yet how to finally finish the job? The instigators of the uprising have taken a principled stand against the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and its leader, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, because they believe the military is a counterrevolutionary force. But the activists' permanent revolution has had diminishing returns. They may have started the revolt, but as the first phase of Egypt's transition comes to a close they are finding themselves marginalized." 

'The seasonal effects of an Arab Spring' (Imad Mansour, Open Democracy)

"Iranian and Turkish messages about their important positions in a transitioning Arab system come from two different backgrounds and offer varied promises in terms of policy; they both might be hard-pressed to find an all-attentive Arab audience. But then for decision makers, the external and domestic policy domains are intricately joined; and so it might be that a significant part of such messages is really intended for a receiving domestic audience. It remains to be better analyzed, but foreign policy posturing has been well invested domestically in power balancing (e.g. among the various political actors) and/or electoral purposes."

The Middle East Channel

Egypt's January 25 Redux

On January 25, 2011 on the Middle East Channel, Ashraf Khalil marveled from the streets of Cairo about "sheer size of the turnout, which was larger than anything I've seen in 13 years of covering Egyptian protests." From Washington, I pushed back against skeptics who doubted that Tunisia's revolution would spread to Egypt, as I noted that, "the images and stories of protests today have been impressive, both in numbers and in energy and enthusiasm. The Egyptians are self-consciously emulating the Tunisian protests, seeking to capitalize on the new mood within the Arab world."

Over the following 18 days, the Middle East Channel published a remarkable range of analysis and commentary about the unfolding Egyptian revolution. It featured not only outstanding reporting from the ground but also incisive analysis from the Middle East Studies academic community -- who stepped up in a big way to help inform public debate at a critical time. Nathan Brown, Shadi Hamid, Sherif Mansour, Emad Shahin and Daniel Brumberg assessed Washington's response. Vickie Langhor called on the Obama administration to side with Egyptian democracy, as did Tarek Masoud, Ellen Lust and Amaney Jamal. Geneive Abdo pushed back against those who saw echoes of Tehran 1979. Helena Cobban talked to the Muslim Brotherhood, Ellis Goldberg checked in with the business community, while MEC co-editor Daniel Levy surveyed the implications for Israeli-Egyptian relations.

Nathan Brown laid out the Egyptian constitution's rulebook for change, while Tamir Moustafa asked whether Egypt needed a new constitution to have a revolution. Michael Hanna laid out the reasons to doubt Mubarak's intentions. Sheila Carapico shrewdly observed how al-Jazeera's relentless focus on Tahrir framed understandings of the revolution. In one of Foreign Policy's most widely read, and arguably prescient, early contributions, Robert Springborg warned that the military's role in the transition meant that by February 2 the chance for democracy in Egypt had already been lost. Ambassador David Mack warned observers to curb their enthusiasm. I offered a stream of commentary from Washington. And all of this is only a small part of what appeared on Foreign Policy over those critical weeks. 

This week, the Middle East Channel is proud to offer a wide range of commentary looking at an Egypt one year after the outbreak of the revolution. Among the highlights, including a few from last month for perspective: 

More is coming over the course of the day, and I'll update the post as those pieces go live. 

Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images