24/11/2011 07:52 GMT | Updated 23/01/2012 05:12 GMT

Egypt At The Crossroads

Current events in Egypt speak for themselves. The conscious will of the Egyptian masses refuses to be broken. In their hundreds of thousands the people are asserting their determination to break the power of a military caste which has grievously miscalculated the temper of a revolutionary movement that will not be denied. Historical parallels should never be used lightly, but nonetheless comparisons with Russia in 1917 are irresistable. The Egyptian people have had their February and are now approaching their October.

And just as with Russia in 1917, Egypt in 2011 stands at a crossroads. For the first time in decades, and perhaps longer, the masses are in control of their own destiny. The attempt by the military to appease the nation with piecemeal concessions to a new draft constitution that was and is designed to cement the power of the military at the apex of Egyptian society has been answered with an outpouring of people onto the streets to demonstrate their anger and defiance. Once again Cairo's Tahrir Square is the epicentre of revolutionary struggle in a country whose importance to the region cannot be overstated. What happens in Egypt will have profound consequences for the region as a whole and by extension the entire world.

Unlike Libya or as is increasingly the case, with Syria, the West finds itself powerless to intervene when it comes to Egypt. Instead, reflecting its comparative impotence, Western governments are reduced to calling for 'restraint' on both sides.

The last thing the Egyptian people need now is restraint. In fact they should rip the word from their vocabulary as they enter the most important period in their history since the struggle over Suez in 1956. Now is the time to break the power of the generals and end decades of shame in which the largest and most important country in the Arab world was reduced to the status and role of Western satrap, its military bribed to turn the other way as the Palestinians suffered alone at the hands of Israel, and its allies in the West exerted dominion over the region's vast resources.

In fact the only Western intervention since Mubarak was toppled back in February came in the shape of British Prime Minister David Cameron, when he arrived in Egypt trailing behind him a delegation of British arms dealers and visited Tahrir Square before the blood of those who'd given and risked their lives to topple the British backed Egyptian dictator had dried. His presence there was an insult to the memories of those men and women, though a timely reminder of the fact that where the likes of Cameron, Sarkozy and Obama are concerned, the only thing that matters is business as usual.

On the ground the Muslim Brotherhood, socialists, nationalists, trade unionists, democrats and forces of every political stripe have united to demand an end to military rule and free elections to create a national unity government with full powers. After an earlier attempt by the hated police to clear the protesters from Tahrir Square by violence was defeated at a cost of 30 people killed and dozens more injured, the generals find themselves ruling a nation that refuses to be ruled by military writ any longer.

The perception of the Egyptian military as being on the side of the people is history. No longer politically infantilised, armed with confidence in their own strength and sense of history, the masses have lost their fear. In Cairo, Alexandria, Suez, all across the country, they have poured onto the streets as never before.

Now anything is possible - including victory.