Two world leaders addressed the turmoil in Egypt today, and you can read between the lines and figure out a great deal about what's going on.
Egypt's 'President' Hosni Mubrak ( and yes,someone inform the clueless Joe Biden, Mubarak really is a dictator)went on state television to address the nation today saying that he is "on the side of the people" will take steps to guarantee the rights and freedom of Egyptians, develop job opportunities and "stand by the poor."
He said he had asked his entire cabinet to resign, including interior minister Habib al-Adly, who was a major target of the protesters because he runs the hated security services. He made no mention himself of leaving.
Mubarak said there was a fine line "between freedom and chaos" and that he would work to secure both freedom and security in Egypt.
"I am absolutely on the side of the freedom of each citizen and at the same time I am on the side of the security of Egypt, and I would not let anything dangerous happen that would threaten the peace and the law and the future of the country." he also blamed recent protests on a "conspiracy with ulterior motives."
Mubarak is hanging on by his fingernails, if that.
The Egyptian Army is already deployed in Cairo and Egypt's other cities, and they are going to be the deciding factor in how things go. In spite of being in place, the army has yet to crack down significantly on the protests. Behind the scenes, Mubarak is obviously still trying to convince the army to go his way, reminding them that if the Muslim Brotherhood takes over, their own futures are forfeit.
The army may very well be thinking that Mubarak is finished, and it might be time for them to join in the revolution and preserve their prerogatives. Of course, when the Shah's generals did that in Iran, many of them ended up being slaughtered by the regime once Khomeini took over.
One key factor that is going to weigh in on how the Egyptian Army jumps is what the US and President Obama does, and having just heard the president's statement speak, I don't imagine it bodes well.
President Obama is not a man who likes to make decisions, and here he was faced with an unpleasant one. His annoyance was fairly evident.
On the one hand, Obama has always been all about mouthing platitudes about democracy and freedom, which is exactly what his Cairo speech was about. On the other hand,here he was faced with a probable radical takeover of Egypt and other regimes, and some old US clients who needed assurance on which way the US was going to jump.
Being Obama, he went for slogans and platitudes over substance. President Obama has essentially cut Mubarak loose. He is even going to have David Axelrod make the round of the talk shows doing damage control and explaining how Obama 'confronted' Mubarak for the past 2 years 'to get ahead of this'.
The administration may even have done more than that, if you believe the report in today's Telegraph that the Obama Administration has encouraged anti-government forces covertly for quite some time.
If Egypt does morph into a Muslim Brotherhood run Islamist state, I wonder if Obama will claim credit for it?
It's obvious that Egyptian Chief of Staff Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi went home from Washington empty handed, and he no doubt has informed his military colleagues. This is a bigger deal than it seems, as US allies and enemies throughout the region are taking notice of what American alliance is worth.
As a Turkish General once famously said, the problem with being an ally of America is that you never know when they're going to stab themselves in the back.
Muslim Brotherhood Islamist state or military dictatorship, the same place Mubarak and all of Egypt's rulers have come from for the past sixty years. We'll know within 48 hours.