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January 28, 2011

Update: Mubarak Asks Government To Step Down, But He Of Course Will Continue to Head It
Spokesman Says Country Is In "Safe Hands" of Mubarak

Correction: I wrote "Obama claims credit." I thought he had put out the story that he secretly backed the uprising. Not so, it appears -- that is the claim made by WikiLeaks, releasing another diploamtic cable which they claim indicates this.

So this wasn't Obama's doing. He wasn't trying to "take credit," as I said, because he didn't have anything to do with the release of this claim.

Of course, on CNN, Wolf Blitzer is suggesting Obama's gassy Cairo speech is the reason for all this.

Uh-huh.


...

More: Consistent with my last update directly below -- the military has taken control of "Liberation Square" in Cairo, driving protesters to side-streets. So the military remains on Mubarak's side.

General Impression: The protestors are being allowed to run wild but that might not be a sign they're going to prevail; Mubarak might be calculating they will burn themselves out so long as he does not create a bunch of martyrs.

Based on the most recent information, all of the speculation from past information is canceled out; at the moment, Mubarak is going to try to stay, and there's no very strong reason to imagine he can't.

Except for the Obama Administration's hedging, of course. Israel issued a statement which also hedged, stating they believe that Mubarak will continue, but also that they must "look to the future," wink-wink.

Asks Government To Step Down, But He's Not Stepping Down: This is nothing; this is Mubarak scrambling to stay in power. He leads the government in a fake-parliamentary-type system where his government reports to him and serves at his pleasure; so he's only firing his top minions.

The idea he's hoping people buy into is that the whole problem is that government, not him. But, um, he's been the guy presiding over 32 years of failure, not them.

Anyway, important and interesting, but says nothing about the Out or Not question. Except that it tells you this is serious, but then, we already knew that.

Mubarak Speaks? I think this is Mubarak speaking currently, but I'm not sure. If that is live, it's just him stating he'll finally do something about the economy and corruption and repression. Because, I guess, he didn't know these things were problems until Monday.

Note: While this is running live, it might be taped. It's still possible he's fled the country, but if that's the case, I don't get the point of broadcasting this. Or who would pull the switch for him.

Thanks to Tami.

Also, a spokesman for Mubarak says the situation is in the "safe hands" of Mubarak.

...

Mubarak Out? I am sure he's out, because if Obama's unending spin cycle is is putting out the message of You're welcome, that must mean they know it's over.

Remember, he's a coward; he leads from the rear.

Question: If Obama's people were really supporting this, why couldn't they have done the same in Iran?

Update: Commenters are saying this looks like the end, as they are speculating (with some good reason) that those planes carry the departing Mubarak family, and the major announcement will be a recognition of this.

Could be nothing, could be something.

Iran next? Can I dare to dream?

Update: Well, now I think Mubarak may really be out. If he's negotiating for a "transitional government," that means he's actually close to getting booted and trying to negotiate for something a little better. But that means the revolutionaries can just say "The hell with this; we can just take it all."

It's all if -- Arabic media is claiming this, and they're every bit as credible as the American media, if you know what I mean.

It occurred to me that Iran might not be delighting in this, as Allah speculated -- there is nothing scarier to a dictator than seeing another dictator fall, is there? And there is this weird out-of-the-blue thing happening in the Muslim world... if Egypt falls, why would Iranian progressives not be emboldened?

Gibbs: "We've reached a point where the grievances of the people have to be addressed in reforms, have to be, must."

Allah's digest is very complete.

A couple of key take-aways:

* Cops, and the military, may flip, and then it's over, of course.

* Even if Mubarak stays on, his son will not inherit power in all likelihood.

* Uh, the Muslim Brotherhood is the most organized of competitors for power.

* There are even some small protests breaking out in Jordan.

* El Baradei may be an attractive compromise successor to Mubarak, acceptable to both the more secular and more Islamist parts of the public. He's under house arrest, then.

By the Way: Some people are upset that Obama isn't more forward-leaning on this.

A similar criticism was made with Iran, but in that case, it was an easy call (which Obama botched): The government of Iran is anti-American and terrorist.

In Egypt, we have a moral reason to support Mubarak's overthrow, but a self-interested reason to be cautious: We don't want the Muslim Brotherhood in charge of the country.

In this case, I think the normal sort of cautious wait-and-see realpolitik impulse is right.

Either Mubarak will get ousted or not. I don't see how we can strongly influence that, and I'm not even certain where our rooting interest lay.*

* Long-term I'm sure that it's better for Arab and Muslim countries to start becoming democratic. Short- and mid-term it just might be the opposite.


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posted by Ace at 04:31 PM

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