Egypt’s military in the crosshairs

CAIRO, Egypt—After years of observing the increasingly toxic relationship between the Egyptian people and the country’s police forces, I had no idea what to expect late Friday night as I approached Cairo’s Tahrir Square on foot knowing that President Hosni Mubarak had deployed army tanks to the city center. What I found was entirely unexpected. ...

MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images
MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images
MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images

CAIRO, Egypt—After years of observing the increasingly toxic relationship between the Egyptian people and the country's police forces, I had no idea what to expect late Friday night as I approached Cairo's Tahrir Square on foot knowing that President Hosni Mubarak had deployed army tanks to the city center.

What I found was entirely unexpected. The tanks and armored troop carriers were indeed out in force, clustered in Tahrir and parked in front of the burning shell of the former ruling party headquarters. But the protesters were happily scrambling onto the tanks to pose for cell phone pictures and chatting happily with the tank drivers. I watched as one patient tank commander made the universal sign for "wrap it up" to a couple of young protesters conducting an extended photo session.

Read more.

CAIRO, Egypt—After years of observing the increasingly toxic relationship between the Egyptian people and the country’s police forces, I had no idea what to expect late Friday night as I approached Cairo’s Tahrir Square on foot knowing that President Hosni Mubarak had deployed army tanks to the city center.

What I found was entirely unexpected. The tanks and armored troop carriers were indeed out in force, clustered in Tahrir and parked in front of the burning shell of the former ruling party headquarters. But the protesters were happily scrambling onto the tanks to pose for cell phone pictures and chatting happily with the tank drivers. I watched as one patient tank commander made the universal sign for "wrap it up" to a couple of young protesters conducting an extended photo session.

Read more.

Ashraf Khalil is a Cairo-based journalist. This article is an edited excerpt of his book, Liberation Square: Inside the Egyptian Revolution and the Rebirth of a Nation.

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