Tahrir Square 29 January 2011 - "The people and the army are one hand"
For a short while on the morning of Saturday 29 January, as the crowds greeted the soldiers on the tanks - stationed in the Square since the previous evening, it looked that perhaps this might be a clean break with the past.
It was the day after the bloody street fighting of Angry Friday and the police had disappeared from Tahrir Square to be replaced by a small contingent of soldiers, tanks and APCs. After some initial moments of tension as the protesters returned that morning, it soon became apparent that the soldiers were not seen as the enemy.
Most ordinary Egyptians blamed the police and the Ministry of Interior for the years of brutality and corruption under the Mubarak regime and somewhat generously regarded the army as being a force outside the dirty arena of politics.
Fraternization was therefore in part spontaneous but it was also a powerful tool exploited by both the revolutionaries and the generals. The aim of the protesters to win over the sympathies of the rank and file while the aim of the Egyptian high command was to assure themselves continued popular support should the revolution topple the Mubarak regime.
I noticed that some quick thinking officer, possibly complying with orders from higher up, had ensured that some of the tank crews carried with them extra bottles of water which they handed out to the first protesters arriving in Tahrir Square.
The previous evening the slogan "The army and the people are one hand" was first chanted by protesters in central Cairo.