Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Pharaoh Folds

Quick thoughts on this afternoon's announcement by Hosni Mubarak that he will not stand for re-election in September, effectively ending his 30 years of rule in Egypt.

On one hand, it is an amazing development, one you hardly could have imagined would happen just a few weeks ago when it seemed like Mubarak was set to die in office, with his son Gamal taking over the reigns of power when that day finally came. And his decision to stay until September does make a certain sense: the Egyptian protests are remarkable for their lack of leadership, if Mubarak were to have announced he was flying off into exile and called for a presidential vote next month, who would run in those elections? The only candidates likely organized enough to run would be members of his current regime, which would produce a result no one on the Cairo streets would find satisfying.

But at the same time, given the level of anger in Egypt today, it is hard to imagine how Mubarak can possibly govern for the next eight months until the scheduled elections. Already, the BBC is reporting that some of those protesting today fear repercussions for their actions from the now still-ruling Mubarak regime. Eight months also gives Mubarak's inner circle plenty of time to pre-rig the next vote for one of their own, or even for Hosni himself to concoct some kind of “emergency” to give him cover to postpone the elections and extend his stay in power.

Mubarak's decision tonight is one that won't satisfy anyone, meaning the Egyptian protests are far from over.
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