They caught three foreigners in the square this morning and paraded them on state TV – Americans, with ID cards from AUC. [Update – Leila Fadel & co at WaPo have a good article on this and surrounding events.] You can’t trust the broadcast (which claimed the protesters “apprehended and handed them over” to security forces), but perhaps these guys really had been stupid enough to be agitating on the front lines, throwing Molotovs. SCAF, desperate for a narrative after three straight days of shooting Egyptian demonstrators in the face in front of video cameras, trotted out the old chestnut about foreign conspiracies and “invisible hands.” Since my husband and I are also Americans with AUC IDs, we reluctantly but quickly decided not to go to today’s milyoniyya. Our presence there would help no one.
Of course it has been impossible to do much of anything else, either. However, parts of our neighborhoods (today we were in Dokki and Mohandiseen) do appear to be functioning as usual.
On the way to the Samar restaurant to buy my son a foul sandwich tonight (what could be more nutritious than pita bread with beans? should I complain that he sometimes won’t eat my cooking?), we walked past a group of men sitting outside an ironing shop. They were glued to the TV, which for several hours had been announcing that the Mushir (field marshal) was “about to deliver a speech to the nation.” (Remember the final days of Mubarak?) They wanted to know whether we were heading to Tahrir (we explained why we weren’t). There did not agree on what should happen next. One guy (maybe in his 50s) thought the Mushir should resign. An older man didn’t even understand the proposition: “Resign? Why? And then who will rule?” Others seemed torn between hand-wringing and anticipation, but they clearly didn’t have a strong opinion about what should happen next. (We live in a normal perhaps lower-middle-class-but-beginning-to-gentrify neighborhood in Dokki.)
So perhaps SCAF’s latest scheme of forming its own “national salvation government” will appease Mohieddine Aboul Ezz street, if not Tahrir Square. Early reports suggest they’ll try to form an interim government under some generally respected prime minister like Baradei or Abdel Moneim Abdel Futouh (two very different options – I’m amazed they would be willing to get into bed with SCAF but that’s another conversation), go ahead with parliamentary elex next week (!), and hold presidential elections in July. No word yet about the constitution, which helped spark this whole thing.