The death toll in Egypt is up to at least seven at this point as protesters continued to face fierce police crackdowns on the third day of major protests. Protesters from a myriad of political backgrounds seem to be sticking close together, united in their goal to oust long-standing dictator Hosni Mubarak.
Western officials are optimistic that Mubarak’s loyal security forces can crush the pro-democracy rallies, but Friday is going to be the real test as the massive Muslim Brotherhood, up to this point officially inactive in the rallies, will be out in force, likely ensuring a far bigger turnout than previous days.
From the moderate side former IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei, who previously was lukewarm to the ideal of public protests because of concerns of violence, is also back in the country and eagerly supporting protests now, saying there is no longer any turning back.
The Obama Administration, though giving some lip-service to the idea of “reforms” in Egypt, is opposing the notion of democracy in Egypt on the grounds of stability. Appearing on al-Jazeera State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley insisted that Mubarak’s pro-Israel stance was too important to the region to allow a Tunisia-style rebellion. It remains to be seen if the US is in a position to crush a popular revolt in Egypt, beyond the billions of dollars in aid they already funnel to the Mubarak regime.