- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating is associate editor at Foreign Policy and the editor of the Passport blog. He has worked as a researcher, editorial assistant, and deputy Web editor since joining the FP staff in 2007. In addition to being featured in Foreign Policy, his writing has been published by the Washington Post, Newsweek International, Radio Prague, the Center for Defense Information, and Romania's Adevarul newspaper. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN International, C-Span, ABC News, Al Jazeera, NPR, BBC radio, and others. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he studied comparative politics at Oberlin College.
As you’ve no doubt already seen, President Hosni Mubarak refused to step down in his latest speech to the Egyptian people:
Mubarak announced that he had put into place a framework that would lead to the amendment of six constitutional articles in the address late on Thursday night.
"I can not and will not accept to be dictater orders from outside, no matter what the source is," Mubarak said.
He said he was addressing his people with a "speech from the heart"
Three quick thoughts:
- A lot of people were clearly out of the loop. Army commander Hassan al-Roweni told the crowd in Tahrir Square this morning that "everything you want will be realised"? CIA Director Leon Panetta was also confident enough to tell congress today that there was a "strong likelihood" of Mubarak’s departure this evening. At what point during the day did Mubarak change his mind?
- What exactly was the point of this? Friday was already predicted to be the biggest street demonstrations yet, but the crowds have been fairly good-natured. If Mubarak just wants to see if he can wait out the protesters, he should have just kept his mouth shut. You can expect a lot more hostility from the demonstrators after being disappointed so brutally tonight.
- If the military really had been contemplating an anti-Mubarak coup, he just gave them a great pretext for it.
In any event, be sure to check out Blake’s exclusive interview with Mohamed ElBaradei from earlier today. Even before Mubarak’s announcement,he seemed appropriately skeptical:
FP: So you don’t have any confidence that [Vice President Omar Suleiman] can be the steward of a democratic transition?
MB: No. I don’t have any confidence. The process is completely faulty, the way I see it. They don’t understand, let alone are willing to move Egypt into democracy, unless we keep kicking their behinds.
And that’s what happened. You saw Mubarak’s first statement was saying, "We’ll give you a new government" — same old, worn-out tactics. A new government but no change of policy and the same people from his own party. They were kicked out and they said they would change the Constitution to allow more people to run. They got kicked out again and then they would say, "Well, Mubarak will not run." Then they abolished the whole leadership of the party.
It is not the sign of a regime, or whatever’s left of it, that is ready to buy into real change. They are talking, again, to the established parties who have no influence, have no credibility in the street, most of them. The people who staged that revolution are not sitting around the table. The young people are not sitting around the table.
Check out the whole thing.
Marc Lynch is associate professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University, where he is the director of the Institute for Middle East Studies and of the Project on Middle East Political Science. He is also a non-resident senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. He is the author of The Arab Uprising (March 2012, PublicAffairs).
He publishes frequently on the politics of the Middle East, with a particular focus on the Arab media and information technology, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, and Islamist movements.| Marc Lynch |