Friday, January 28, 2011

Mubarak's Regime Staring at the Precipice

Today might mark the beginning of the end of Hosni Mubarak's 30-year run has ruler of Egypt.

The latest news suggests that the military is not suppressing the demonstrations and enforcing the curfew, Egyptian elites are bugging out of the country, and the Parliament is about to make an announcement in a short time:

2122: Egyptian TV cites parliamentary speaker as saying "an important matter will be announced in a short time".
I'm guessing the answer will not involve Hosni Mubarak as the Egypt's leader going forward.

My expectation is that the military will be involved in selecting the next leader of Egypt, perhaps setting up a caretaker government to allow for elections, but that is anything but a given.

Mubarak has apparently lost the support of the military, which is a major reason why events are going against him in a big way. He clearly tried to pull a page from the Iran playbook, including shutting down the Internet, but couldn't pull it off - not when he lacked sufficient support among the military. Iran's mullahs had support of the IRGC and Basij, and that was a huge difference in Iran's regime being able to outlast the protests and crush them in the end.

We've yet to see how the endgame will play out, but we'll probably know a whole lot more in the coming hours as to who will run Egypt in coming days, but even then, that's not a sign of who will govern in the weeks and months ahead, particularly if the Tunisian experience is a guide. After sending Ben Ali into exile, the Tunisian Prime Minister Ghannouchi took the helm, and the protests continued because he was seen as nothing more than a henchman to Ben Ali. Even after further concessions, the protests continue in Tunisia demanding a complete evisceration of the government to eliminate the last remnants of the Ben Ali regime.

For the first time since the violent protests broke out in Egypt, Hosni Mubarak took to the airwaves. He's calling for the protests to come to an end and claims that it is part of a plot to destabilize and overthrow his government. However, he also has called for his entire cabinet to resign over their failed policies.

In the end, this boils down to an attempt for Mubarak to continue his rule while offering platitudes to the protesters. Don't expect these moves to sit well with the protesters who will demand further concessions from the government, which still answers to Mubarak. The fact that Mubarak is making even these moves shows that he's seriously concerned about staying in power and is grasping at straws as to what will placate the protesters. He's going to find out real quick that the only thing that will do so is his removal from office.

After trying the Iran playbook, and finding no success, he's now trying to take a page from the Tunisian playbook, and that isn't any more successful.

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