Mubarak has decided to stare down the demonstrators and the crowds are not happy

Mubarak's much anticipated speech following the historic 'march of the million' missed the demonstrators mark by a long shot. The tension is back.

All power to Mubarak's speechwriters who managed to give the impression – conveyed regularly by state controlled Egyptian television – that the demonstrations were fueled by political extremists and the country was being brought to its knees by looters, arsonists and thugs.

Well he'd know about the latter.

Speaking like the overly concerned and loving uncle which he most certainly is not, Mubarak soothingly told Egyptians that he is the only one who can make sure there is an orderly transition to meet demands for democracy, and he will do this in the few short months left in his Presidency.

Apparently after 30 years in office he also gets it that there is extreme poverty and discontent amongst 'his' people.

With a straight face he told the country he never had any intentions of standing again in the upcoming September elections as he has given his life for Egypt, has suffered for Egypt in peace and in war, and it will soon be his time to step aside.

Why would any self-respecting Egyptian believe he is not up to his old tricks of playing for time and inevitably finding a reason in the eight months until the elections to regroup and regain his old momentum?

He has declared he will not flee like the Tunisian Ben Ali. No, Mubarak vowed he will die on Egyptian soil... but before that he has instructed his police and security forces to seek out those responsible for the looting, arson and social upheaval of the demonstrations.

That is ominous for Egyptians, and it is to be hoped that Mubarak's latest 'strong man' act will not reignite the fear his 30 years of brutal emergency rule is so known for.

Mubarak may have done as the Americans asked and made it clear he will not seek re-election. To a small degree that might put countries who have supported Mubarak and are now distancing themselves from him on the right side of history, but it does not meet the needs of Egyptians.

The opposition parties have said no talks til Mubarak goes, and it seems no-one believes he will actually implement the sorts of reforms needed to change the face of Egyptian government.

The demonstrators and the opposition leaders will need tremendous fortitude to avoid losing the cool they have largely employed in their week long protest for human rights, jobs and democracy.

Once again the role and allegiance of the army will be tested.

All Mubarak is looking for now is an excuse to open fire.

 

Comments (4)

by Raymond A Francis on February 02, 2011
Raymond A Francis

Not a good sign at all

Things are almost certain to turn to custard if he doesn't read the signs

by Tim Watkin on February 02, 2011
Tim Watkin

Understand the scepticism Jane, but boy what a week! Staggering to see the change coming from within, unimaginable as it was a week ago to even consider Mubarak making such a speech.

I wonder, now that Mubarak has said he'll leave, whether he's lost his hold over even those close to him. He has no more fear to wield, few favours to hand out because, hey, all bets are off inside nine months. Will the forces propping him up drop him now? I'm not sure stalling tactics will work. Perhaps, as in Tunisia, the concession will be perceived as weakness and the protesers will push on harder than ever. Crucially, what will the army do?

Might it, as in Turkey in 1980, side with the democrats and act as the ruling bridge between dictatorship and democracy? What kind of democracy are we likely to see emerge? One that respects human rights?

Two thoughts. These Arab protests are all about demographics and economics. This was coming because of the large number of young, unemployed people simply saying "enough". So who's next? And can western countries be brave enough to get out of the way and let the local people speak for themselves?

by Jane Young on February 03, 2011
Jane Young

not surprising at all that chaos has erupted in Tahrir Sq and the environs following Mubarak's speech....Mubarak's plain clothes security thugs have really worked hard to make sure the violence their boss 'warned' about has eventuated...gunfire, water canons and club weilding pro Mubarak supporters (possibly party members worried about their future without their patron?). Mubarak sure is a professional at this - it is exactly the day the peaceful demonstrators were fearing. So far the military seems to be standing by and watching the pro and anti Mubarak protesters going at eachother. The US has already threatened to take away the $1.5b it gives to the military should this turn nasty...is this nasty enough?  

by Ross Forbes on February 07, 2011
Ross Forbes

The broader issue here is the role of the U.S. in aiding and abetting a ruthless regime for all these years whist simultaneously carrying out violent campaigns in two other Middle-eastern countries to enact "regime change"

The breathtaking duplicity of U.S. actions should be clear for all to see. In concert with Israel, 300 million Arabs are subjugated by American military might to secure access to cheap oil and to.ensure the "security" of 5 million Jews..

Incidentally Tim, as I have indicated in a comment on yr Afghan piece....how do you reconcile your stated view that Egyptians should be free to decide for themselves what form of democracy they should have with the idea  that 35 NZ men armed with highpowered weaponry and night vision goggles should be allowed to roam the Pakistani/Afghan border at will without first undergoing the same immigration checks that we in NZ make refugees from that area undergo should they wish to settle here.?

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