From on the ground in Egypt

As I mentioned earlier this week, there’s only one thing of any importance happening in the world right now, and it’s happening in Egypt, Tanzania, Yemen and Jordan. The entire world is sitting with bated breath, wondering what the outcome of this sudden and unpredictable outpouring of popular anger will be.

This is a story from a person who is currently in Egypt:

Cairo, Egypt – It is 5PM in Cairo, and the curfew has begun once more. Security is tight, and the sounds of not-so-distant gunfire have become just about as commonplace as the chirping of birds. Today is the tenth day of antigovernment protests that have no indication of ending any time soon. By now everyone has seen the images circulating in newspapers and the media: Cairo is under siege, violence and chaos reign, and the country is teetering on the brink of civil war. Well, I am here to tell you that while all of this coverage makes for good ratings, it does not tell the whole story.

It’s a pretty gripping tale that doesn’t seem to conflict with what I’ve been seeing and what is being reported on the major news outlets I follow.

We spent another hour standing in the square and speaking with Egyptians, who instructed us to tell their story to the world. “This is not freedom, this is not democracy!” They shouted. Satisfied with what we had witnessed, we decided to make our way back home through the debris-laden streets. Our route took us passed the Interior Ministry, where it seemed all of the security forces had gathered after ceding Tahrir Square the protesters. The police lines stretched for nearly a mile, and we quickly found that we were the only non-police present. Nervous, we continued along, passing rows upon rows of security trucks and riot police huddled in groups, laughing, eating, and asking us for cigarettes. Little did we know that these would be the last police that we would see in Cairo for the next three days.

With my limited knowledge of foreign policy, I am not qualified to make the following statement, but I can’t see how the outcome of this protest doesn’t shape the entire geopolitical map for a generation. I am not employing hyperbole when I say this is the only important thing going on – these protest may reverberate through the entire Muslim world at a time when U.S. oil interests are on a knife edge, the global economy is warping, and religious theocracies are looking to extend their reach into the secular world.

As usual, Al Jazeera is doing a great job. I’m writing this from work so I can’t be watching the live feed, but please believe I’ll be tuning in as soon as I get home.

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