Only two days after cheering began in Egypt’s Tahrir Square following the resignation of Hosni Mubarak, it now appears that the celebrations of the Egyptian democratic revolutionary movement have begun to give way to the realization that while many low ranking soldiers in the Egyptian Army are likely sympathetic to the protesters, higher ranking Army officers are not only not on the side of the revolution but see it as a threat to their military junta.
This short clip from Reuters shows physical confrontations and shoving matches as the Army attempts using force to clear Tahrir Square of demonstrators.
“Egypt’s new military administration and the pro-democracy protesters who brought down Hosni Mubarak are at odds over the path to democratic rule”, notes Chris McGreal in a UK Guardian article: “The army sought to stave off pressure from jubilant protesters to swiftly hand power to a civilian-led administration by saying that it was committed to a ‘free democratic state’.
McGreal also notes, to the credit of the Egyptian protesters who are not giving up, that although “The military leadership gave no timetable for the political transition, and many of the demonstrators who filled Cairo’s Tahrir Square for 18 days rejected the military’s appeal to dismantle the barricades and go home.“
“The news is more evidence of the close ties between Israel, the United States and Mr Suleiman, who is tipped to replace Hosni Mubarak as Egypt’s president”, writes Christopher Hope in a February 09 article in the UK Telegraph, who explains his sourcing as “The close relationship has emerged from American diplomatic cables leaked to the WikiLeaks website and passed to The Daily Telegraph.”
Mr Suleiman is Israel’s preferred candidate to replace 82-year-old Mr Mubarak. A secret hotline between Mr Suleiman and the Israelis was said to be “in daily use”, according to US diplomatic cables.
Mr Suleiman worked hard to position himself as the main Egyptian link with Israel. According to the cable, he was blocking attempts by the Israelis to form links with other members of the Cairo government.
This was, according to Mr Diskin, because of Mr Suleiman’s “desire to remain the sole point of contact for foreign intelligence”.
The efforts paid off. In 2008, Mr Suleiman was named as Israel’s preferred successor to Mr Mubarak and the new secret direct hotline was in daily use. By early 2009, Dan Harel, deputy chief of staff at the Israel Defence Staff, was reporting that “on the intelligence side under Suleiman co-operation is good”.
Mr Suleiman has already won the backing of Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, to lead the “transition” to democracy after nearly three weeks of demonstrations calling for Mr Mubarak to resign.
As far as I know now, even after the military takover of Egypt this morning by Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the head of the High Military Council that took control of Egypt on Friday, Omar Suleiman remains Egypt’s Vice President, presumably having taken over the duties and the powers of the President after Hosni Mubarak resigned this morning. This is an assumption I’m making here – if anyone has differing information about Suleiman’s role now, please let me know.
Professor Gilbert Achcar of the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, grew up in Lebanon, and is currently Professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) of the University of London. His books include The Clash of Barbarisms: The Making of the New World Disorder, published in 13 languages, Perilous Power: The Middle East and U.S. Foreign Policy, co-authored with Noam Chomsky, and most recently the critically acclaimed The Arabs and the Holocaust: The Arab-Israeli War of Narratives.
In this interview from Feb. 08, 2011 Achcar talks with The Real News Network’s Paul Jay about the Egyptian protest movement, about the Egyptian Army, and about the illusions that many harbored and still harbor about the role and intentions of the Egyptian military in the sweeping revolutionary movement that developed over so many years of oppression of ordinary Egyptians and flowered into the mass movement we’ve all been watching the past couple of weeks:
After a day of up and down rumors Thursday beginning with widespread anticipation in Egypt and around the world that Mubarak would step down, followed by a defiant speech Thursday evening in which he flatly refused the demands of protesters and said he would stay on as president of Egypt until his term ends in September, it now appears that Mubarak has indeed finally bowed to pressure and resigned.
UPDATE #1: The Austin, Texas based “global intelligence company” Strategic Forecasting, Inc. – STRATFOR – issued a short emailed “Red Alert: Mubarak Resigns, Military is in Charge” Friday morning, hinting they have intelligence of a military coup in Egypt…
Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman delivered the following statement Feb. 11: “In the name of God the merciful, the compassionate, citizens, during these very difficult circumstances Egypt is going through, President Hosni Mubarak has decided to step down from the office of president of the republic and has charged the high council of the armed forces to administer the affairs of the country. May God help everybody.”
Suleiman’s statement is the clearest indication thus far that the military has carried out a coup led by Defense Minister Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi. It is not clear whether Suleiman will remain as the civilian head of the army-led government. Egypt is returning to the 1952 model of ruling the state via a council of army officers. The question now is to what extent the military elite will share power with its civilian counterparts.
Last night’s announcement by President Hosni Mubarak that he was not leaving office infuriated the Egyptian people who immediately marched from Tahrir Square through dark Cairo streets to the building of the state run television station for a loud but peaceful demonstration. Today portends to be another day of peaceful marches and protests with a planned march from Tahrir Square to the Presidential Palace. Protests are planned throughout the country but everyone is anxious with the rise in anger and Vice President Omar Suleiman’s speech that was taken as an offensive. Al Jazeera is reporting that “Egyptian military’s supreme council has held an ‘important’ meeting and will issue a statement soon”. So far the military has remained on the sidelines. They were, however, embarrassed by Mubarak’s continued refusal to leave office since they had made public announcement that indicated that the protesters demands were going to be met. Day eighteen promises to be large and loud and let us all hope peaceful and successful.
Here is some of the current news as the day has already begun in Egypt.
The stubbornness of the beleaguered Egyptian president has embarrassed the army and endangered the people
Mubarak’s speech came at the end of an extraordinary day during which all the evidence seemed to indicate decisive intervention by the military, with officers telling protesters in Tahrir Square that their demands would be met.
Even more significantly, state TV broadcast pictures of the higher armed forces council meeting without Mubarak, the commander-in-chief, reinforcing the impression the generals and the defence minister, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, were moving against him. Tantawi is said to be close to and in close contact with the US government.
The council’s statement – the title “communique number one” redolent of past military interventions in Egypt and across the Arab world – said it would “remain in continuous session to discuss what measures and arrangements could be taken to safeguard the homeland and its achievements, and the aspirations of the great Egyptian people”. Omar Ashour, an Egyptian academic at Exeter University, said: “We may be seeing factional fighting inside the regime and in the end the Mubarak faction won. Or maybe we see him attempting to cling to power regardless of the views of the military. This is certainly embarrassing for them.”
Mohamed ElBaradei, the nearest the fractured opposition has to a single well-known leader, said Egypt’s fate now lay in the hands of the military. “The army must save the country now,” he said.
WASHINGTON – Even as pro-democracy demonstrations in Cairo have riveted the world’s attention for 17 days, the Egyptian military has managed the crisis with seeming finesse, winning over street protesters, quietly consolidating its domination of top government posts and sidelining potential rivals for leadership, notably President Hosni Mubarak’s son Gamal.
Then came Thursday, a roller coaster of a day on which the military at first appeared to be moving to usher Mr. Mubarak from the scene – and then watched with the world as Mr. Mubarak clung to his title, delegating some powers to Omar Suleiman, the vice president and former longtime intelligence chief.
The standoff between the protest leaders and Mr. Mubarak, hours before major demonstrations set for Friday, could pose a new dilemma for military commanders. Mr. Suleiman called for an end to demonstrations, and Human Rights Watch said this week that some military units had been involved in detaining and abusing protesters. But by most accounts, army units deployed in Cairo and other cities have shown little appetite for using force to clear the streets.
US president says Egyptian government has yet to put forward a ‘credible, concrete and unequivocal path to democracy’ after Mubarak refuses to step down
Barack Obama expressed dismay at the failure of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak to stand down and said the Egyptian government has yet to put forward a “credible, concrete and unequivocal path to democracy”, as Egypt braced itself for what demonstrators predicted would be the biggest protests yet.
The US president’s patience appeared to be nearing its end after being wrong-footed and embarrassed earlier in the day by an expectation that Mubarak was planning to stand down.
American unhappiness with Mubarak was echoed by European leaders.
The White House, the state department and the Pentagon will be seeking explanations from their counterparts in Egypt as to what went wrong. Obama’s critics claimed he had been set up and the incident reflected his naivety.
The Obama administration had hinted early on Thursday that Mubarak was on the eve of departure. The CIA director, Leon Panetta, giving evidence before the House intelligence committee, predicted there was a “a strong likelihood that Mubarak may step down” by the end of the day.
WASHINGTON – The U.S. director of national intelligence sought Thursday to defend the intelligence community against criticism that it had failed to more clearly warn of the recent crisis in Egypt, saying that the buildup of potentially explosive pressures had been amply reported but that the specific triggers to action were far harder to predict.
“We are not clairvoyant,” said the director, James R. Clapper Jr., at a hearing of the House intelligence committee.
The intelligence community has faced criticism for failing to provide a clearer warning, or more timely descriptions, of the fast-moving developments in Egypt. President Barack Obama and other top administration officials have repeatedly seemed to be scrambling to catch up with events.
But Mr. Clapper, and also Leon E. Panetta, the director of central intelligence, suggested that it would always be difficult to know precisely when a potentially critical situation would turn explosive – to know, for example, when a frustrated merchant in Tunisia would set himself afire, an event that indirectly fed into the Egyptian crisis.
PARIS – After President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt refused to step down on Thursday night, infuriating demonstrators in his country, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, issued a sharp statement saying that “the time for change is now” and that Mr. Mubarak “has not yet opened the way to faster and deeper reforms.”
Her rapid response was a marked change from the past few weeks, when she has been increasingly criticized as being painfully slow to respond to the crisis in Egypt and elsewhere, and as simply following an American script that has shifted several times with the flow of events.
It has been very difficult for Ms. Ashton, whose job was created in December 2009 by the Lisbon Treaty, to get ahead of the curve.
She must maneuver among the 27 member states – all with their own foreign ministers – as well as the European Union bureaucracy and the European Commission, run by José Manuel Barroso, who has foreign policy aspirations of his own. She is still struggling to build a staff and a new European diplomatic corps, and she must cobble together money and agreed positions from all the members.
TEHRAN – Iran’s authorities have increased pressure on the country’s political opposition days before a rally proposed by opposition leaders in support of the popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.
Security forces stationed outside the home of the reformist cleric Mehdi Karroubi, one of the country’s most prominent opposition leaders, prevented Mr. Karroubi’s son from seeing his father on Thursday, according to the son, Hossein.
In an interview with an Arabic-language news Web site, Al Arabiya, Hossein Karroubi, who is politically active, said that the security forces told him that other family members, except his mother, were also barred from seeing his father.
The elder Mr. Karroubi and another government critic, Mir Hussein Moussavi, had submitted a formal request to the government to hold the rally on Feb. 14. Opposition Web sites have also reported the arrest of a number of people associated with the two opposition leaders. On Wednesday night, Taghi Rahmani, an activist close to Mr. Karroubi, and Mohammad-Hossein Sharifzadegan, a former welfare minister and an adviser to Mr. Moussavi, were arrested at their homes by Iran’s security forces. The Web sites also reported Thursday that two reformist journalists had been arrested.
Update: So not the speech you were looking for. Mubarak defiant. Will not step down. Giving some powers to torturer Suleiman. Protesters outraged. – ek
2nd Update: Suleiman speaks- tells people to go home and back to work. Yup, that will do the trick. Protesters marching on the Presidential Palace.- ek
UN Wire reports this morning:
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will announce today that he is leaving office, sources told NBC News. Vice President Omar Suleiman reportedly is to take his place.
The army leadership is sending signals to demonstrators in Cairo’s Tahrir Square that it was planning to step in to “safeguard” Egypt during the transition. Mubarak is expected to address Egyptians via state-run TV tonight.
BREAKING: Reports indicate Mubarak will possibly step down in an address to the Egyptian people tonight. It is unclear if he intends to hand over power to Suleiman or a Military Council and whether or not new elections will be held in 60 days.- ek
The Egyptian people have been told that there was a transition of authority, but it is not yet clear that this transition is immediate, meaningful or sufficient. Too many Egyptians remain unconvinced that the government is serious about a genuine transition to democracy, and it is the responsibility of the government to speak clearly to the Egyptian people and the world. The Egyptian government must put forward a credible, concrete and unequivocal path toward genuine democracy, and they have not yet seized that opportunity.
As we have said from the beginning of this unrest, the future of Egypt will be determined by the Egyptian people. But the United States has also been clear that we stand for a set of core principles. We believe that the universal rights of the Egyptian people must be respected, and their aspirations must be met. We believe that this transition must immediately demonstrate irreversible political change, and a negotiated path to democracy. To that end, we believe that the emergency law should be lifted. We believe that meaningful negotiations with the broad opposition and Egyptian civil society should address the key questions confronting Egypt’s future: protecting the fundamental rights of all citizens; revising the Constitution and other laws to demonstrate irreversible change; and jointly developing a clear roadmap to elections that are free and fair.
We therefore urge the Egyptian government to move swiftly to explain the changes that have been made, and to spell out in clear and unambiguous language the step by step process that will lead to democracy and the representative government that the Egyptian people seek. Going forward, it will be essential that the universal rights of the Egyptian people be respected. There must be restraint by all parties. Violence must be forsaken. It is imperative that the government not respond to the aspirations of their people with repression or brutality. The voices of the Egyptian people must be heard.
The Egyptian people have made it clear that there is no going back to the way things were: Egypt has changed, and its future is in the hands of the people. Those who have exercised their right to peaceful assembly represent the greatness of the Egyptian people, and are broadly representative of Egyptian society. We have seen young and old, rich and poor, Muslim and Christian join together, and earn the respect of the world through their non-violent calls for change. In that effort, young people have been at the forefront, and a new generation has emerged. They have made it clear that Egypt must reflect their hopes, fulfill their highest aspirations, and tap their boundless potential. In these difficult times, I know that the Egyptian people will persevere, and they must know that they will continue to have a friend in the United States of America.
By refusing to leave office, the Egyptian president has exposed Obama’s inability to decisively influence the country
The Obama administration has been embarrassingly wrongfooted as Hosni Mubarak confounded expectations by refusing to stand down.
The Egyptian president’s speech came only hours after Barack Obama and the director of the CIA, Leon Panetta, had appeared to give credence to rumours that he was heading for the exit.
The decision by Mubarak to transfer presidential power to his vice-president, Omar Suleiman, but not leave office caused dismay in the US and around the world. The British government issued a cautious statement saying it was looking closely at Mubarak’s and Suleiman’s speeches, but the disappointment felt by the White House was shared in private in London and elsewhere.
The Obama administration has been putting pressure on Mubarak since last week to stand down straight away, but Mubarak, in what appeared to be a direct snub to the US president, said he would not bow to international pressure.
Up Date 1730hrs EDT: After listening closely to Mubarak’s words and the translation. He said that he has given some powers to Suleiman. That may refer to some of the responsibilities that he has already given Suleiman to meet with the opposition groups. He also reiterated changes to the constitution which he has also said he would do.. Here is the video of his speech from CNN with the simultaneous English translation:
Up Date 1645hrs EST: Suleiman has spoken, blaming outsiders, imploring demonstrators to go home and has been promptly ignored. The demonstrators are peaceful and loud, refusing to leave the Tahrir Square until Mubarak steps down.
Up Date 1630hrs EST:In a rambling, sadly defiant statement, Hosni Mubarak refused to step down. My understanding is that he said he would transfer power to his Vice President, Omar Suleiman. This is completely unacceptable to the crowds in Tahrir Square and they are now marching to the presidential palace where the speech. A speech from Suleiman is expected but at this point I think it will fall on deaf ears.
CAIRO – President Hosni Mubarak told the Egyptian people Thursday that he would delegate more authority to his vice president, Omar Suleiman, but that he would not resign his post, contradicting earlier reports that he would step aside and surprising hundreds of thousands of demonstrators gathered to hail his departure from the political scene.
In a nationally televised address following a tumultuous day of political rumors and conflicting reports, Mr. Mubarak said he would “admit mistakes” and honor the sacrifices of young people killed in the three-week uprising, but that he would continue to “shoulder my responsibilities” until September, and did not give a firm indication that he would cede political power.
Even as Mr. Mubarak spoke, angry chants were shouted from huge crowds in Cairo who had anticipated his resignation but were instead confronted with a plea from the president to support continued rule by him and his chosen aides. People waved their shoes in defiance, considered an insulting gesture in the Arab world.
It was a joyous day in the Tahrir Square with the news of the release of Google executive, Wael Ghoneim, Middle East marketing manager for Google, who was arrested on January 27 by police. Ghoneim oversaw the “Arabization” of Google’s on-line services and has participated in several projects aimed at supporting Arabic Internet content. His disappearance became a cause célèbre as Google and Human Rights organizations demanded that the Egyptian government disclose his location. Sunday the newly appointed Prime Minister, Ahmed Shafik, announced that Ghoneim would be released.
Life did start to return to some normalcy as banks and shops re-opened and once again the usual traffic jams clogged the streets. Tourism continues to suffer and tanks continue to guard government buildings, embassies and other important institutions in the capital.
On sadder note, a symbolic funeral procession was held for journalist, Ahmed Mahmoud, who was shot as he filmed the clashes between protesters and riot police from his Cairo office. The UN also reported that nearly 300 people have been killed since the unrest started on January 25th and thousands more injured.
The stand off between the Mubarak regime and the protesters demanding he leave office goes into its fifteenth day with mass demonstrations planned in Cairo.
Up Date: 1900hrs EST Bless these people. They are tenacious and will not stand down. They are not ready to make nice with the Mubarak regime.
Tens of thousands pour into central Cairo seeking president Mubarak’s ouster, despite a slew of government concessions.
Thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators have poured into Cairo’s Tahrir (Liberation) Square as protests against Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, entered their 15th day despite a slew of concessions announced by the government.
Tens of thousands of protesters have also come out on the streets in Alexandria, Egypt’s second largest city.
There were also reports of a protest outside the parliament building in the capital. Witnesses said protesters had pitched a tent in front of the building and are likely to stay there.
According to Hoda Abdel-Hamid, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in the Egyptian capital, the crowd at Tahrir Square grew rapidly on Tuesday afternoon, with many first-timers joining protesters seeking Mubarak’s immediate ouster.
Google executive Wael Ghonim speaks after release from Egyptian custody, sparking outpouring of support from protesters.
Egyptian anti-government protesters have welcomed the release of a Google executive who disappeared in Cairo last month after playing a key role in helping demonstrators organise.
Wael Ghonim was released on Monday by Egyptian authorities, sparking a fast and explosive response from supporters, bloggers and pro-democracy activists on the internet.
Ghonim’s release came nearly two weeks after he was reported missing on January 28 during protests against Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.
“Freedom is a bless[ing] that deserves fighting for it,” Ghonim, Google’s head of marketing for the Middle East and North Africa, wrote in a message posted on his Twitter account shortly after his release.
In the most disturbing development in days, during a private meeting today vice president Omar Suleiman warned of a coup “to protect Egypt” – the Associated Press has a piece reporting further details of Suleiman’s hostile comments:
Vice President Omar Suleiman warned Tuesday that “we can’t put up with” continued protests in Tahrir for a long time, saying the crisis must be ended as soon as possible in a sharply worded sign of increasing regime impatience with 16 days of mass demonstrations.
Suleiman said there will be “no ending of the regime” and no immediate departure for President Hosni Mubarak, according to the state news agency MENA, reporting on a meeting between the vice president and the heads of state and independent newspapers.
He told them the regime wants dialogue to resolve protesters’ demands for democratic reform, adding in a veiled warning, “We don’t want to deal with Egyptian society with police tools.”
At one point in the roundtable meeting, Suleiman warned that the alternative to dialogue “is that a coup happens, which would mean uncalculated and hasty steps, including lots of irrationalities. We don’t want to reach that point, to protect Egypt.”
Pressed by the editors to explain the comment, he said he did not mean a military coup but that “a force that is unprepared for rule” could overturn state institutions, said Amr Khafagi, editor-in-chief of the privately-owned Shorouk daily, who attended the briefing. “He doesn’t mean it in the classical way.”
“The presence of the protesters in Tahrir Square and some satellite stations insulting Egypt and belittling it makes citizens hesitant to go to work,” he said. We can’t put up with this for a long time, and this crisis must be ended as soon as possible.
He warned that calls by some protesters for a campaign of civil disobedience are “very dangerous for society and we can’t put up with this at all.”
The comments sound like a worrying development after the calm of recent days. This may be Suleiman’s private face: no surrender. I bet he didn’t mention any of that in his phone chat with Joe Biden earlier today.
We are in day whatever it is of the Crisis In Egypt, and we have now reached the part where, in the USA, we begin pointing fingers and ducking and dodging as we begin to address the question of why no one saw this coming.
Now, as Thomas Barnett would say, the race will be on inside the Pentagon and around the intelligence community to have the best explanation-and to turn that explanation into the greatest PowerPoint slide the world has ever seen.
And we all know it’s going to be the same old story: “Nobody could have anticipated this event…but if you would just give us a few billion more to develop some program or another, we, along with our contractor partners, will get a handle on this.”
Well I’m here today to break that cycle: with no PowerPoint, no contractor partners…and no fat consulting fee required…I will give the US Government all the forseeing they could ever need; that way, when the next uprising happens, no one can say “we never saw it coming.”
“And the wolf will lie down with the lamb, and a little child shall lead them!” -Isaiah 11:16
So judging from the Juan-Cole-Bot and genius reporters like Christiane Amanpour (“The Muslim Brotherhood only wants to support civilian democracy!”), you might think that Northeast Africa is a democratic paradise, except where the USA is propping up a demon like Hosni Mubarak!
So let’s take a little tour of the other prosperous, peaceful, and democratic regimes of that blessed region!
Immediately to the south we find ourselves in the Republic of the Sudan, which virtually nobody calls a “client-state” of the USA, and yet somehow even without the intervention of the Great Satan, those highly independent Muslims have managed to kill a few hundred thousand of their fellow citizens, and then a few hundred thousand more, and then..
Likewise neighboring Libya subscribes to the democratic principle of “one man, one vote,” except that the “one man” is Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi, and his “one vote” is the only vote that counts.
And yet again, although nobody calls Libya a “client-state” of the USA, it isn’t easy to discover anything that most of us would recognize as “democracy.”
Rounding out the top right-hand corner of Africa we arrive at the Republic of Chad, where civil war raged for no less than 30 years between independence in 1960 and the ascension of General Idriss Déby around 1990, and General Déby still rules that unfortunate country 21 years later, and continually justifies his ranking as the 15th worst dictator in the world!
And once again, even without American support, Chad has somehow evolved into one of the most corrupt and un-free countries on the face of the earth!
But Egypt would have naturally developed into blissful democracy, except for the Great Satan’s puppet, Hosni Mubarak!
It’s spontaneous, yes, triggered by the explosion in Tunisia. But contrary to some media reports, which have portrayed the upsurge in Egypt as a leaderless rebellion, a fairly well organized movement is emerging to take charge, comprising students, labor activists, lawyers, a network of intellectuals, Egypt’s Islamists, a handful of political parties and miscellaneous advocates for “change.” And it’s possible, but not at all certain, that the nominal leadership of the revolution could fall to Mohammad ElBaradei.
— ‘Who’s Behind Egypt’s Revolt?’ by Robert Dreyfuss, The Nation
Today was the largest protest against the Mubarak regime that has been stages yet. Vowing not to leave Tahrir Square in Cairo until Mubarak is gone. The day has been relatively peaceful and there have been only small clashed with the military establishing order keeping the pro-Mubarak supporters out of the square and re-instituting searches for weapons as people entered the square. Night is falling and thousands still remain.
The attacks on the independent news media continues with the burning of the Al Jazeera offices with all their equipment destroyed and Al Jazeera reporters beaten and arrested. The major American news media has taken refuge in hotels as it is completely unsafe for them on the streets. Also reporters from the New York Times, the BBC and others have also been detained and threatened.
Up Date: 1800 hrs EST:
Tahrir Square has turned into a small encampment as Evan Hill, a producer for al-Jazeera English who lives in Cairo, tweets:
Tahrir is a fully functioning encampment, with medical camps and pharmacies, amazing they’ve managed to keep it functioning
I found this video from Euro News showing on of the field hospitals that has been set up in Tahrir Square to treat the injured. Warning, if you’re at all squeamish, Don’t Watch.
“He is proud, but he is also a patriot,” Obama said. “He needs to consult with those around him in his government,” listen to the Egyptian people “and make a judgment about a pathway forward that is orderly but that is meaningful and serious.”
“His term is up relatively shortly,” the president noted. “The key question he should ask himself is how does he leave a meaningful legacy behind.”
Obama called Egypt “a great and ancient civilization” that is “going through a time of tumult.” But he reassured the Egyptian people that “they will continue to have a strong friend in the United States of America.”
Peace – alongside solid, stable community organisation – was the hallmark of Egypt’s “day of departure”, an event which produced the biggest turnout yet in Egypt’s 11-day-old national uprising. The target of that uprising was yet to be toppled as night drew in, but at times, amid the impromptu tea stalls, the neat rows of first aid tents and the well-manned security cordons, that almost didn’t seem to matter. At the centre of a city that is rife with chaos, Tahrir square had become an oasis of calm.
As a mark of how secure this anti-Mubarak stronghold has become after days of fierce fighting with armed supporters of the current regime, Egypt’s defence minister walked among the hundreds of thousands who packed the square. Hussein Tantawi was welcomed by the crowds, who chanted ‘Marshal, we are your sons of liberation’.