Egypt: Is the new regime as bad as the old?

The tear gas and rubber bullets flew again in Tahrir Square, as thousands of protesters of Egypt's new government clashed with police this week

An Egyptian protester wipes his eyes after police fired tear gas at hundreds of young Egyptians demanding faster trials for members of Hosni Mubarak's regime.
(Image credit: REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El-Ghany)

Rocks, tear gas, Molotov cocktails, and rubber bullets flew in Cairo's Tahrir Square again Tuesday night, in the largest clash between police and protesters since President Hosni Mubarak's ouster in February. There are varying accounts of what exactly sparked the bloody confrontation — though all agree it started outside a memorial service at the Balloon Theater, between police and families of the January uprising's "martyrs." When the violence ebbed Wednesday, at least 1,000 protesters were injured, and the interim military-led government was scrambling to reassure Egyptians that the transition to democracy is still on track. Have things really changed since Mubarak's fall?

The new regime has failed the people: "If it hadn't been clear already," the new clashes in Tahrir Square are a stark reminder that "the military junta running Egypt... is doing a terrible job," says Blake Hounshell at Foreign Policy. Even though the aims and origins of the "nasty street battle" are murky, it's crystal clear what's behind it: "Anger is mounting" at the slow pace of justice and reform.

"Tahrir Square is back"

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Actually, it's the rioters hurting democracy: The protesters' "frustrations are indeed legitimate," but change doesn't happen overnight, says Gulf News in an editorial. All Egyptians should "focus on the bigger picture": The interim government needs to "maintain a level of security and stability in order to be able to move forward." Rioting not only prolongs military rule, but it's also "a major source of distraction for all Egyptians who are yearning to return to normal life."

"Egypt's stability at a critical stage"

The junta still has to prove itself: The military regime believes a "great silent majority" of Egyptians just want "things to 'get back to normal,'" says Steven Cook at the Council on Foreign Relations. But that doesn't appear to be true, and Egypt's leaders are "taking a big risk when they use force against protesters." In post-Mubarak Egypt, this isn't intimidating people, but galvanizing them. And since much of "Mubarak’s regime remains largely intact," the burden of proof for change lies with the junta.

"Tahrir Square: The smell of tear gas in the morning"

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