For the second time within 11 months the eyes of the White House and the world are focused on Cairo.
Tahrir Square in the middle of this bustling and impoverished city of 20 million is full of young people chanting slogans of freedom and liberty.
The bangs of exploding tear gas canisters and the frequent rush of people carrying injured compatriots back to hastily arranged field hospitals are frightening.
Every so often protestors come running away from the frontline at the eastern side of the square to escape the vicious tear gas clouds, the plastic bullets and the charge of the well-armed police officers in their black uniforms. A particularly brutal charge, at 5pm on Sunday, led to more than 30 deaths and hundreds of injured. It appears that live ammunition was used. Still, after only 30 minutes the police were forced to retreat again from Tahrir Square. In response to the killings, the day after, on Monday, an even larger crowd descended on Tahrir Squareto show their defiance.
Who are the protestors and what do they want?
Among the protestors there are many supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis, an even more extreme Islamic party. But there are also Coptic Christians and a good number of liberal groups. The police violence of the last few days has united these diverse unarmed groups into a common movement which, however, is devoid of any real leadership and proper organization.
The young protestors are calling for the introduction of democracy and an elected civilian government. The square echoes with the chants demanding the ouster of Field Marshal Tantawi, the chairman of the Supreme Council of the Army, and the end of the rule of the military elite that in one way or another has been in charge of Egypt since Gamal Abdel Nasser's bloody 1952 coup. The revolution that began on January 25, 2011, and led to the downfall of long-standing Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak just over two weeks later has entered its second and perhaps decisive stage.
After all, nothing much has changed in Egypt since Mubarak's ouster. His disciples are still in power, the Egyptian economy has further deteriorated, corruption is as bad as ever and Mubarak's torture chambers continue functioning well with more than 12,000 civilians having been put in front of military tribunals since February. The Mubarak-era 'emergency laws' have still not been repealed. The all powerful Egyptian military is resolved at all costs to avoid relinquishing power and becoming subservient to a democratic civilian government. The resignation of the interim cabinet on Monday has not changed this.