Thursday, February 10, 2011

Curveball On Egypt..Or Is it?

The usual suspects were quite astounded at Hosni Mubarak's speech. Instead of resigning, They were shocked that he appears to be sticking around for awhile.

Especially the man who's supposed to be head of our CIA, Leon Panetta.

It's actually not that confusing. To really get a handle on this, it's important to look at what he actually said, as well as what Vice President General Omar Suleiman said.

Hosni Mubarak actually didn't say he wasn't resigning, per se. He said that he was delegating more powers to Suleiman, that he was not going to allow what he referred to as 'seditous elements' to dictate the speed of the transition. He also told the people in Tahrir Square that the army was going to guarantee the stability of the country, and implied that anyone attempted to disturb that stability and make Egypt descend into what he referred to as 'chaos' would be dealt with by them.

Even more importantly, Suleiman echoed those sentiments telling the crowd not to pay attention to the media and that it was time to go home.

The first clue to what's going on is to notice how the Muslim Brotherhood, the most numerous and best organized opposition faction has been working this.While some of their membership has been participating in the protests, they have decidedly not been taking a lead role. Instead, they've been in meetings with Suleiman and the army...without Mohammed El Baradei, who they now claim never did represent them.

If Suleiman is talking tough in this fashion, it only emphasizes that his earlier meetings with the Muslim Brotherhood were fruitful and a deal has been struck between them and the army. Part of it was obviously to let Mubarak leave in some kind of dignity after a few months.

For the Brotherhood, the upside might have been a few ministries once the new government gets organized or simply the right to participate in the new elections openly.

There's certainly no downside for them.If the army moves in and there's a bloody repression of the protesters in Cairo and elsewhere, or even a largely bloodless crackdown, the Muslim Brotherhood becomes the focus of the anti-Mubarak movement instead of a few crazed students. If Suleiman and the army fail to deliver what they promised to the Brotherhood,the same thing applies. And if the transition goes smoothly, the Brotherhood gets its piece of the action from the Army.

The real loser - aside from the handful of pro-democracy protesters among the crowds in Cairo - is Barack Hussein Obama.

He's been shown up to the entire Middle East as an ally not worth having and the various Sunni autocrats in the region were particularly incensed at him maneuvering behind the scenes to try and depose one of their own in such a humiliating fashion.King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia was reportedly particularly angry, and told Mubarak that the Saudis would support the his regime if Obama cut off the annual $2 billion stipend we give Egypt by replacing it.

In fact the tone of Mubarak's speech today had a lot to do with Obama, and was at least partially a response to him in pretty plain language . "Your demands are legitimate and just ... There is no shame in hearing your voices and opinions, but I refuse any and all dictations from abroad," he said.

(via memeorandum)

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louielouie said...

we should drop the $2bil stipend regardless/anyway.

B.Poster said...

I agree with Louie. The Egyptians were eventually going to drop us any way even if the protests have never happened, however, this may speed up the process.

It would seem that Mr. Obama and America have been made to look very stupid here. By constantly runnin his mouth he has undermined us. What should have he have done?

I'm a firm believer, if one wants to be the best, one should study the best and try, when possible, to emulate the best. With that in mind Russia and China are the world's most powerful nations. What have they done? They've largely remained silent. I suspect they've worked behind the scenes to make sure their interests are properly represented. We should be trying to learn from them. This does NOT mean we can or should do every thing they do. We are not them but it does give us a model to study.

Now as for the Saudis and other Sunni autocrats, they should not have stood by while the protestors were making the case in the world and American news media. A place they could have made an active pitch on is Fox News. Aren't top Saudis major stock holders in News Corp? Even Fox News has been decidely in favor of the protestors. Maybe he'll ask for his money back.

Now IF we can get a situation where the Egyptian government will address the legitimate needs of the Egyptian people and will respect American interests, then a regime change might actually be a good thing but its hard to be optimistic we can end up with something like this.