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Breaking: Mubarak to Step Down Tonight? *updated*

February 10, 2011

Not sure what to make of this, whether it’s speculation or not, but something seems to be going on:

The Supreme Council of Egyptian Armed Forces has met to discuss the ongoing protests against the government of Hosni Mubarak, the president.

In a statement televised on state television, the army said it had convened the meeting response to the current political turmoil, and that it would continue to convene such meetings.

“Based on the responsibility of the armed forces and its commitment to protect the people and its keenness to protect the nation… and in support of the legitimate demands of the people [the army] will continue meeting on a continuous basis to examine measures to be taken to protect the nation and its gains and the ambitions of the great Egyptian people,” the statement, titled “Communique No. 1” said.

Thurday’s meeting was chaired by Mohamed Tantawi, the defence minister, rather than Mubarak, who, as president, would normally have headed the meeting.

The army’s statement was met with a roar of approval from protesters in Tahrir Square, our correspondent reported.

Earlier, Hassan al-Roweni, an Egyptian army commander, told protesters in the square on Thursday that “everything you want will be realised”.

Protesters have demanded that Mubarak stand down as president.

Hassam Badrawi, the secretary general of the ruling National Democratic Party, told the BBC and Channel 4 News on that he expected Mubarak to hand over his powers to Omar Suleiman, the vice-president.

Ahmed Shafiq, the country’s prime minister, also told the BBC that the president may step down on Thursday evening, and that the situation would be “clarified soon”.

UPDATE: On a related note, sage advice from Steve Clemmons over at the Washington Note:

…the failure to secure the Arab Peace Plan in the region that would have led to normalization between Israel and 57 other Arab and Muslim nations has also preempted security infrastructure discussions along the lines of an ASEAN Regional Forum for the Middle East. There has been a serious cost to the paralyzed Israel-Arab peace process.

James Goldgeier writes:

In 2011, the United States does not have the same standing in the Arab world with opposition movements that it did in 1989 in Europe, nor do these countries seek to join Western institutions.

The West has not promoted a Helsinki-type process in the Middle East that might have built ties with opposition forces, nor fostered a broader regional security framework that could promote peace. Although Hosni Mubarak won’t be around past September, President Obama doesn’t have the kinds of carrots for reform that his predecessors had in the 1990s. And even if Egypt makes a peaceful transition to democracy with a supportive, rather than oppressive, military, it is not inevitable that other Arab countries follow suit.

Secondly, as Goldgeier indicates, we have a weak record of reaching out to and even knowing the political opposition in these countries. We should know all sides of the equation — and yes, including the Muslim Brotherhood who themselves in many parts of the Middle East are the biggest advocates for democratic practice and principle.

It’s time that the US deal with all groups in these regions — and at least have interaction with and communications with key leaders. The Muslim Brotherhood is automatically part of that list, and it is in American interests — as well as in the interests of Israel and Arab states in the region — to begin to normalize discussions about democratic political norms with the rising political Islam movement.

So true. But sadly, our foreign policy establishment is incredibly resistant to this sort of change, which is ironic given it would allow us to stand behind our oft-stated principles while being less dependent on dictators in the region. It would also help promote Israel’s security.

UPDATE II: This article is about the alleged divisions in the administration over what to do with Egypt. If Sulieman is in charge doesn’t this just entrench the military dictatorship under the guise of a transition to democracy? Sulieman’s harsh, revealing and at times conspiracy-laden comments over the past few days have made clear he doesn’t really think the unwashed masses in the streets are ready for democracy and he’s willing to use his police powers to combat the protesters soon. The WH said the comments were “unhelpful.” I think they were very helpful, at least to anyone who wants to know what a transition under Sulieman will look like. They were only unhelpful to the WH because they exposed the weakness of their narrative that Sulieman could be the one to help Egypt transition to democracy.



13 Comments leave one →
  1. Thain permalink
    February 10, 2011 12:14 pm

    Wow hope it’s true.

    I’m gone for a few hours and see what I miss?

  2. February 10, 2011 1:28 pm

    That second update with the link to the LA times article bums me out- It seems like Hillary has cast her lot with stability and regional (US/Israeli) interests (and once again with Gates and the national security establishment) over pure democracy, but why does it have to be an either or situation? Can’t we have both stability and democracy in the region, even if it involves Egypt being more independent? Or do we just want a puppet state to send suspects to to torture, to maintain the Occupation and economic strangulation of Gaza and maintain the interests of the military industrial complex?

  3. Steve permalink
    February 10, 2011 1:42 pm

    When Andrea Mitchell had breaking news this afternoon about the possibility Mubarak was stepping down she made sure we all knew that “Omar Suleiman is a friend to Israel.”

    Oh, well that settles it. He’s a torturing, human-rights abusing despot but he’s a “friend” to Israel, so no worries America!

    Andrea needs to turn down the tribal.

    • Tovah permalink
      February 10, 2011 1:48 pm

      Andrea needs to turn down the tribal.

      LOL. I know, right?!?

      Here’s a nice story about Omar Sulieman:

      • February 10, 2011 2:04 pm

        Now I don’t watch a lot of network or even cable news (Maddow and Cenk being two exceptions, but they are opinion not news) but I have yet to hear a member of the MSM ask someone from the administration something along the lines of “with Sulieman’s history of torture, repression and fear-mongering propaganda, do you have any concerns about throwing your support behind this man to be the face of the transition to democracy? Couldn’t some Egyptians see this as a move to entrench the status quo military dictatorship for our own interests?”

        I’d also like to hear this question “given the US has long called on violent extremist groups to renounce violence in order to be part of a valid political process, why is the administration against having the Muslim Brotherhood play some role in the political process, when they have denounced violence? Isn’t non-violent political Islam a reality the US must learn to deal with?”

        Another question I’d like to ask:

        “Isn’t the risk of another military dictatorship greater than the risk of an Islamic fundamentalist takeover of Egypt, particularly given the protest movement in primarily secular in nature and the military will be loathe to let go of the power it has in/over Egyptian society?”

  4. HillaryFan permalink
    February 10, 2011 2:16 pm

    Stacy, just wanted to say thank you for all the updates and great links- this is a one-stop shop for all the Hillary news and also foreign policy news, something which some other sites don’t provide. You must spend an awful lot of time on this blog and it is much appreciated.

    • Carolyn-Rodham permalink
      February 10, 2011 3:13 pm

      What she said!

    • February 10, 2011 3:39 pm

      Ah, you are very welcome, I enjoy it!

      On another note- here’s another link. The much-lauded Egyptian military allegedly detaining and torturing protesters as we speak.

      The U.S. MSM really hasn’t asked too many pesky questions about the Egyptian military, preferring to just tow the govt line that they have been acting in an “exemplary and professional” fashion and that most of the abuses were a result of the police/secret police.

  5. February 10, 2011 3:49 pm

    I just pray Mubarak is resigning. And, regardless of what comes next (if he does in fact leave), just his exit will be an amazing, game-changing victory on the part of the Egyptian people! How unthinkable was this before the protests began or even after they began? Not too long ago, the thought of any Arab country rising up against its dictator was considered preposterous. This is history.

    • February 10, 2011 3:53 pm

      @SA- yes, it is very historic. I just hope the Egyptian people get to create their own democracy without too much interference.

    • Carolyn-Rodham permalink
      February 10, 2011 8:53 pm

      I was in a cab with an Egyptian driver, talking about the recent events and described very movingly how he and his buddies sat around the lunch table last week, tears of joy streaming down their faces, bursting with pride about what the “kids” back home had managed to accomplish, bursting with pride for Egypt, all she has been and could be again, full of hope and a new sense of empowerment, And I swear, the thought of the US being complicit in any way with puncturing that man’s bubble and robbing him of hope makes me feel profoundly sad and ashamed for our country.

  6. February 10, 2011 3:52 pm

    Another link detailing Egypt’s (and in particular Sulieman’s) complicity in maintaining the siege on Gaza and essentially pressuring the Palestinians to make concessions and providing an Arab stamp of legitimacy on the Isreali (and by extention, US) Occupation:

    So I guess that’s what our leaders mean when they say Egypt has been wicked helpful in promoting the Mideast Peace process?


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