The Corner

Clashes in the Street

Events in Egypt could be taking an ominous turn. Pro-Mubarak demonstrators attacking the anti-Mubarak demonstrators creates the excuse for an “even-handed” law-and-order crackdown that is really, of course, intended to sweep the anti-regime forces from the streets. Indeed, now the military is telling everyone to “go home.” A crackdown would be bad for many reasons: 1) obviously, it could be very bloody; 2) violence is almost always politically radicalizing; 3) a crackdown could split the army if elements of it refuse to participate (as in the Iranian revolution) and/or discredit it politically when we should want it to shepherd the post-Mubarak transition; 4) it will signal Mubarak’s deadly determination to stay, thus prolonging and escalating the crisis in dangerous ways (see points 2 and 3). As Michael Rubin has cautioned, the revolt in Egypt will play out over months. But the last 12 hours have been extremely worrisome.

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