Hosni and the football
I honestly don't know what to say about Egypt but I feel that I should probably at least note what's happened today while I was offline attending to life. When I left this morning I was sure that Mubarak was stepping down and felt quite ebullient (although very skeptical of Suleiman) at the idea of a peaceful revolution in Egypt of all places, coming to fruition. When I next checked, it was off and Mubarak had said that he had "transferred power" but that he wasn't stepping down. From what I gather most people think this was the old man alone refusing to pull the trigger after having agreed.
Wow. It's rare when you see major political events like this truly unfold before your eyes. It is usually so sterile and stage managed that you forget that not everything is controllable. It's a fascinating story although today's news is hardly positive.
If, like me, you missed the story in real time, Marc Lynch has written a good wrap-up of the day:
It's hard to exaggerate how bad Hosni Mubarak's speech today was for Egypt. In the extended runup to his remarks, every sign indicated that he planned to announce his resignation: the military's announcement that it had taken control, the shift in state television coverage, a steady stream of leaks about the speech. With the whole world watching, Mubarak instead offered a meandering, confused speech promising vague Constitutional changes and defiance of foreign pressure. He offered a vaguely worded delegation of power to Vice President Omar Suleiman, long after everyone in Egypt had stopped listening. It is virtually impossible to conceive of a more poorly conceived or executed speech.
Omar Suleiman's televised address which followed made things even worse, if that's possible, telling the people to go home and blaming al-Jazeera for the problems. It solidified the already deep distrust of his role among most of the opposition and of the protestors, and tied his fate to that of Mubarak. Even potentially positive ideas in their speeches, such as Constitutional amendments, were completely drowned out by their contemptuous treatment of popular demands. Things could get ugly tonight --- and if things don't explode now, then the crowds tomorrow will be absolutely massive. Whatever happens, for better or for worse, the prospects of an orderly, negotiated transition led by Omar Suleiman have just plummeted sharply.