Skip to comments.Chaos in Egypt: Mubarak about to step down? Update: Transferring power to military council?
Posted on 02/10/2011 12:47:16 PM PST by Ernest_at_the_Beach
Question mark in the headline because Egypts information minister insists its not a done deal. As I write this, though, Mubaraks preparing to speak on state TV (which has gradually turned against him) and Fox News is citing a senior Egyptian official as saying hes ready to quit.
Gird your loins.
Egypts President Hosni Mubarak is to step down tonight, two sources told NBC News, amid widespread protests against his 30-year rule that have gripped the country.
Following an all-day meeting of the countrys supreme military council, the army said all the protesters demands would be met and a further statement was due to be made later Thursday, clarifying the situation.
NBC News reported that a high-ranking source inside the presidents office said that Mubarak would step down and the newly appointed vice president, Omar Suleiman, would take over. This was then confirmed by a second source.
The army statement was labeled communique number 1, which the AP took as a sign that a coup was underway. Simple question here: Is this in fact a coup by Suleiman and the military or is it a true capitulation to the protesters demands? Already on Twitter, Ive seen some Egyptian protesters like Wael Ghonim declaring victory and others lamenting that its a betrayal of the movement. No one seems to know precisely whats going on even Leon Panetta will only say that theres a high likelihood that Mubarak is out but heres my half-assed theory. As noted last night, Suleiman has been threatening in heavy-handed ways to crack heads if the protests dont calm down soon. Tomorrow is Friday, though, the day of prayers and traditionally the day of huge political protests in the region. Given that the crowds in Tahrir Square have grown since Ghonims release a few days ago, it stands to reason that tomorrows monster protest would have finally forced some sort of bloody confrontation between Suleiman/the army and the demonstrators. Suleiman, under U.S. pressure not to use violence, probably figured that the only way to avert that was to present Mubaraks scalp to the people, hoping that that would placate them enough to take the edge off tomorrow and finally restore some normalcy. (The BBCs correspondent thinks demonstrators will indeed see it as a great triumph.) The regime blinked, in other words but probably only because the White House has guaranteed Suleiman its support in a soft coup but not a hard, violent one. And what choice does Obama have, really? If he doesnt prop up the military regime, the Saudis will.
Mubaraks set to speak at any moment; if he really was forced out, Im not sure why hed bless his overthrow by agreeing to a televised farewell address unless, of course, there are troops standing behind the camera with their fingers on the trigger. Stand by for updates. While we wait, lest you think the military really, truly has sided with the people against Mubarak, spend a few minutes reading this. Yikes.
Update: Looks like they might bypass Suleiman, at least formally, and devolve power to a junta.
President Hosni Mubarak will step down shortly and transfer authority to the Egyptian Higher Council of the Armed Forces, a senior Egyptian official confirmed to Fox News on Thursday.
The group is comprised of the minister of defense, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi who stands atop the military hierarchy along with the militarys chief of staff, the chief of operations, and commanders of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Air Defenses.
Under the Egyptian constitution, the speaker of parliament is supposed to take power when the president quits. Is this good enough for protesters, then an extra-constitutional handover to a military council with no time limit (yet) on their rule?
Update: Assuming that Suleiman will play some major role in the new government, either as president or as the power behind the throne, Im amazed that some protesters seem to be kinda sorta okay with it. A CIA analyst puts it bluntly:
Mubarak and Suleiman are the same person, Emile Nakhleh, a former top Middle East analyst for the CIA, said shortly after Suleiman was named vice president just days into Egypts anti-government protests. They are not two different people in terms of ideology and reform.
Ron Suskind, author of the book The One Percent Doctrine, called Suleiman the hit man for the Mubarak regime. He told ABC News that when the CIA asked Suleiman for a DNA sample from a relative of Al Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri, Suleiman offered the mans whole arm instead.
Hes a charitable man, friendly, said Suskind. He tortures only people that he doesnt know.
Update: Obamas supposed to give a statement at any moment, but heres where he was at as recently as an hour ago: Were going to have to wait and see whats going on.
Update: Supposedly, Al-Arabiya is reporting that Mubaraks about to take a nice, long medical leave in Germany. Which means that dumb post from a few days ago was correct.
Update: Obamas in Marquette speaking to college students; he offered a few pleasantries about change in Egypt, but clearly hes not going to offer a full statement on this until Mubarak makes his move.
Update: Im not sure what her source is, but Megyn Kellys reporting on Fox that the army plans to act against the protesters if they reject the handover of power to Suleiman as not good enough. Thats basically what I argued up above that theyre handing them Mubaraks scalp to appease them and end the demonstrations, but that the regime will otherwise crawl on roughly as is.
Update: For what its worth, the rumor on BBC Arabic is that Mubaraks already fled the country and that the speech weve been waiting for was recorded hours ago.
SPEECH: “As your father...” is not a good start.
I’m watching the speech but, I don’t hear him saying anything. Just a lot of mumbo jumbo.
This is not going to be pretty... Mubarek is going to hold on as long as he can.
Does this mean we will keep giving this dictator billions of dollars?
He’s trying to make the case for staying until September.
We’ll see how successful he is...
Why does he want to hang on? Is he afraid of the Muslim Brotherhood getting in power?
I thought for sure he was going to resign.
Yes, he is. The MB is the only really well organized power there now. It will take until September for a pro-west. non-Sharia/Islamist candidate to come forward, get organized and have a chance to get elected.
Even though he's not a real good guy I support Mubarak staying in power until September. I'm glad to see him fighting this premature stepping down from power. 0bama really stepped in it when he called for Mubarak to start the transition "yesterday."
Mubarak's a dictator, but he's been an ally for 30 years and 6 more months, with some concessions to the opposition, won't be nearly as bad as turning Egypt over to the islamists like they did in Iran.
I'd guess that the Egyptian Military is still pretty well organized.
Yes, but they are not going to be part of the elections in September, at least as far as being one of the candidates goes. They may well run the place soon and until then, though, I agree with you there.