In the Arena

Egypt Round-up

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A few days ago, I wondered whether the events in Egypt would follow the path of Tiananmen in 1989 or Moscow in 1991. I feared Tiananmen, but that hasn’t happened. The passivity of the hollowed out Russian military in Red Square seems an unlikely path as well. The New York Times has a good piece on the quietly decisive role the Egyptian military is playing.

Some other worthy pieces about the situation today:

My friend Roya Hakakian, who lived through the Iranian revolution, has a terrific piece–not exactly comparing Iran to the situation in Egypt, but showing how the perception of the 1979 revolution changed, gradually, within Iran as the Ayatullah seized more and more control.

I’ve been critical of CNN’s journalistic lassitude in the past, but as the ever-excellent Alessandra Stanley points out, this is the sort of crisis that brings out the best in the old brand. It has done an excellent job, day after day, with no gimmicks or screaming.

Finally, on a related topic, regular readers here know about my obsession with Zhari District, just to the west of Kandahar, the Taliban heartland in Afghanistan. In December, I reported that the area had been swept clean of Taliban by U.S. troops from the 101st Airborne Division and their Afghan National Army partners. Carlotta Gall confirms my assessment, reporting from Pashmul, which is just west of Senjaray, the town I’ve written about twice here. Obviously, the task is now to make sure the Taliban don’t come back–and that is a job for the Afghans themselves, with some assistance from us. But this is good news and should speed a major U.S. withdrawal starting toward the end of 2011.

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