But then what did we expect?
Egypt's ruling military council says it will not tolerate any more strikes which disrupt the country's economy.
Well done, you got the old bastard out, we're in charge now. You do what we say.
State television carried a statement in which the military said strikers would be "confronted".
How? OK, if they congregate in big groups around the place, they make it easy for them. What if they just, you know, stayed at home? What are the army going to do? Kick down tens of thousands of doors and drag people down the office? Even then, you can lead a horse to water. . .
All of a sudden, I'm looking at the army's six month claim in Egypt with a jaundiced eye. Will they surrender power? Undoubtedly, as long as the people look like they're going to elect the guy that the army want in the big chair. If they don't, I can forsee some national emergency, or some accused interference from foreign powers, which would mean that any election would be flawed, unsafe, unfair, best not risked, national security and all that.
Perhaps the people of the middle east are waking up to the fact that they are not owned, they are not serfs or chattels. Perhaps the people of the middle east are starting to realise that freedom comes from within first. That first word is no. You don't have to demonstrate for your freedom, you just quietly take it. No song and dance, no elaborate displays of venom or anger, take the Gandhi route, just sit there and do nothing.
Just as we are seeing in Bahrain and Libya, the King, or the head honcho, can send the army in, but if there's no-one to shoot at, then what are they going to do? To remain in power, a dictator needs money, he needs money to pay his soldiers, his secret and uniformed police, the western governments and companies for the bullets he wants to fire at his population. The only way he can get that money is by taxing. If the population just stay at home, his tax well will dry up quick enough.
'Ahh, but they have huge reserves of gas and oil.' I hear you say. 'The big guy will just take the cash straight out of that.' Yes. But who is going to get it out of the ground? Him? Who will move the western experts to their place of work? Stock their supermarkets? Make sure their air-con is working?
Going out onto the street is a good photo-op, but you know what? The big guy knows you're angry, he just doesn't care. You are his property, it is your job to do what he tells you.
Old Holborn writes about this today. The State is not superior to the population, it is the population. And when those entrusted with, or those who have taken responsibility for the running of the State act against that State's best interests, those being the interests or desires of the population, there can be but one outcome.
No doubt the religious nutters will try to capitalise, but once again as OH points out, 21st century technology, satellite TV and the mobile phone have made millions in the middle east aware that there are alternative civilisations on the planet, where the leaders are not the mightiest tribe, the elders, the most armed. I think they'll find the ground isn't very fertile. The old Eastern Bloc Europeans may have been quick to swap one crushing authoritarian regime for another, but I don't think the Arabs will be so keen to make the same mistake, they've seen what's happened in the EU, in Palestine, how things have gone since the hated Shah was kicked out in Iran.
The lands of Islam used to be the centre of learning, science, art, music, mathematics, astronomy and commerce. They are due a renaissance.
How long is it before we look at the middle east with envy, rather than despair and fear? In the race for freedom they have exploded out of the blocks, whilst we are still in the locker room, fretting over the colour and make of spikes we should be wearing.