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Mubarak Steps Down: Let The Spin Begin

February 11, 2011

“Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive/ But to be young was very Heaven!”

William Wordsworth – The Prelude 1805 (commenting on the French Revolution of 1789

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Early Note: 9 am, Friday, February 11, 2011

It was announced just now that Hosni Mubarak has stepped down as president of Egypt; he has turned all power over to the Egyptian military. The revolt of the U.S. proxies has, for the moment, failed. (see below)

A time to rejoice. Democracy has won a big one. Geriatric authoritarian kleptomaniacs the world over, take note!

Comments from Tunisian friends about the events in Egypt:

“Ah the Egyptians beat us; it took us 28 days, they did in 18!”

“Tunisia and Egypt were the toughest (referring to the levels of repression), the others will be easier. Look what we started. Who’s next?”

The people of Egypt force Hosni Mubarak from power...peacefully

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Late Note: 6 pm, Thursday, February 10, 2011

The news has broken a few hours ago that Hosni Mubarak refuses to step down as Egypt’s president despite enormous domestic and international pressure for him to do so.

This is a  dangerous moment with events moving rapidly, although it is not clear towards what. At the moment – U.S. Middle East policy is in shambles, utter confusion with Obama’s key Middle East advisors split over how to proceed. This is a defining moment for Egypt and for the Obama presidency.

What I think is going on is `a revolt of the U.S. proxies’… in which Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Israel (a strange, but strong coalition) are making a common stand, and `putting the ball’ back into Obama’s camp. They are challenging him to act understanding that Obama’ options are limited; Their goal is to bring down his presidency rather than Mubarak. It might work. Obama’s options are fraught with problems.

Mubarak’s rejection (after hinting that he would step down and getting the international media into a froth) of leaving office is tantamount to challenging Obama to move in the direction of military intervention. But a direct U.S. military intervention would throw the entire region into complete chaos.

On the other hand, if Obama does not intervene it would suggest his weakness under pressure. He would find himself in a situation similar to Jimmy Carter facing the Iran crisis in 1979. Whatever, the crisis is shaping up to be the defining moment in Obama’s presidency. He is not handling this situation well.

Much depends now on the response of the Egyptian military caught between a rock and hard place. Its upper ranks are closely connected to Mubarak. There is a danger in a split between pro and anti Mubarak factions, a development that could have ominous consequences.

Perhaps there are other options that I do not see? Of course, I’m sure there are. Regardless, these next days are going to be an extremely sensitive period. Earlier in criticizing U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East I labeled the current situation somewhere between a set back and debacle for U.S. policy. The diagnosis is leaning a bit more towards the `debacle’ scenario.

rjp

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links:

Juan Cole on `what now Egypt‘ – pretty good

Uri Avnery `Tsunami In Egypt‘ – another Avnery pearl

Richard Falk `Post Mubarak Revolutionary Chances’

6 Comments leave one →
  1. February 11, 2011 8:28 am

    yes a BIG ONE ’tis!!

    • February 11, 2011 10:05 am

      yes…spent a sleepless night worrying…

      now i think of the lines of a smaltzy song:

      “at the end of the storm is a golden sky”

      best,

      robbie

  2. February 11, 2011 10:42 am

    … the sweet silver song of the lark (of freedom) will prevail …

  3. Eugene V. Fitzpatrick permalink
    February 13, 2011 12:30 pm

    Perhaps as the sun set on 2/11/11 a veteran of Tahrir Square might have recalled the Bard’s Henry V and pondered:

    And gentlemen in Egypt now a-bed
    Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
    And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
    That fought with us upon St. Crispin’s Day.

  4. February 20, 2011 2:11 pm

    You might be interested in a piece recently posted in this same blog domain:
    http://invincibleprobity.wordpress.com/2011/02/13/smiling-faces-and-purple-fingers-and-egypt/
    “Smiling Faces And Purple Fingers – And Egypt”

    • February 20, 2011 2:32 pm

      Dear Lavin,

      Perused your piece… won’t delete it, although what I saw of it I don’t much agree with. Still I don’t have time at the moment but I hope in the next few days to look at it more carefully `in the spirit of dialogue’..

      RJP

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