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Egypt: What a Day

February 11, 2011 1 comment

It’s been described as the most complicated chess match ever played. The behind-the-scenes maneuverings must have been something. What seemed like the end of the 30-year regime of Hosni Mubarak in the morning, turned instead into a confusing, meandering speech that left uncertainty- and the regime still reigning.

Even President Obama seemed to think something was up at a noon when he told a crowd in Michigan that “we are witnessing history unfolding.” CIA chief, Leon Panetta, told a congressional hearing it appeared Mubarak was on his way out. But it turned out he was relying on news reports not actual intelligence.

Not that those news reports were without foundation. From the Washington Post:

Crowds had thundered their approval when Gen. Hassan al-Roueini, military commander for the Cairo region, strode into the square and declared: “All your demands will be met today.”

Anticipation soared even higher when Egypt’s supreme military council announced that it had convened an emergency session – in their commander-in-chief’s absence. In a statement, the military chiefs pledged “support for the legitimate demands of the people” and also “to oversee their interests and security.”

And five hours later, Mubarak gave his speech.

The Egyptian Ambassador to the United States, Sameh Shouhkry, says definitively that Mubarak has transferred all authority to his Vice President. Apparently that leaves Mubarak as some kind of paternal figurehead. And the protestors are livid.

Friday may tell the tale. It appears the Egyptian Generals, for now, have sided with the regime. And what of the soldiers, who after all, are taken from the ranks of the citizenry; will they fire on angry protestors if they decide to charge the Presidential compound? Will the soldiers obey the orders of their officers? Has the regime deliberately provoked the protestors in an effort to clamp down and declare it is acting in the interests of public order?

Lives and liberty will be on the line Friday in the streets of Cairo.