EXIT THE PHAROAH: The Slow But Certain Abdication Of Hosni Mubarak Has Already Begun


[Artwork by DonkeyHotey]

UPDATE: Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, has said that he would not run for re-election – but refused to step down from office, the central demand of millions of protesters who have demonstrated across Egypt over the last week. “I never intended to run for reelection,” Mubarak said in his televised address, which aired at 11pm local time on Tuesday. “I will use the remaining months of my term in office to fill the peoples’ demands,” he said. That would leave Mubarak in charge of overseeing a transitional government until the next presidential election, currently scheduled for September. He promised reforms to the constitution, particularly article 76, which makes it virtually impossible for independent candidates to run for office. And he said his government would focus on improving the economy and providing jobs. MORE

NEW YORK TIMES: President Obama has told the embattled president of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, that he should not run for another term in elections in the fall, effectively withdrawing American support for its closest Arab ally, according to American diplomats in Cairo and Washington. Al Arabiya television, citing unnamed sources, reported that Mr. Mubarak would announce in a nationwide address Tuesday evening that he would not run for another term. The message was conveyed to Mr. Mubarak by Frank G. Wisner, a seasoned former diplomat with deep ties to Egypt, these officials said. Mr. Wisner’s message, they said, was not a blunt demand for Mr. Mubarak to step aside now, but firm counsel that he should make way for a reform process that would culminate in free and fair elections in September to elect a new Egyptian leader. MORE

REUTERS:  As Egyptians poured onto the streets on Tuesday to demand he go, President Hosni Mubarak had already given more ground in a week than ever before in his 30 years in power. His abdication seems to have already begun. For a man dubbed “The Pharaoh,” it is an end of historic proportions. Some recalled the coup of 1952 which killed off Egypt’s royal dynasty and urged Mubarak to get on with quitting. An uncertain future awaits the 82-year-old leader, who just a week ago seemed confident of either unchallenged re-election in September, or of handing over to his businessman son. But huge uncertainty now awaits 80 million Egyptians, their neighbors, Western powers and Mubarak’s fellow Arab autocrats. Protesters among perhaps a million on the streets said he should face prosecution and retribution for years of repression, corruption, mismanagement of wealth and police brutality. Mubarak, knocked off balance by an unprecedented revolt that was inspired by the overthrow last month of Tunisia‘s veteran strongman, has turned to his new vice-president, Omar Suleiman. He has asked him to open a dialogue with all political parties — the sort of opening that he spent three decades eschewing. His opponents say it is too little, too late to save him. “Our first demand is that Mubarak go. Only after that can dialogue start with the military establishment on the details of a peaceful transition of power,” said Mohamed el-Beltagi, a leader of the mass Islamist movement the Muslim Brotherhood. Liberal figurehead Mohamed ElBaradei, a retired U.N. diplomat, said: “I hope to see Egypt peaceful and that’s going to require as a first step the departure of President Mubarak.” MORE

THE TELEGRAPH: Mohamed ElBaradei was edging towards taking over as Egypt’s interim president on Tuesday afternoon as support fell away https://i0.wp.com/farm6.static.flickr.com/5091/5408427732_a63fc951aa_m.jpg?w=790from President Hosni Mubarak. Reports from sources close to the former UN nuclear agency chief said he met senior figures from the army on Tuesday morning as protesters gathered in major cities calling for Mr. Mubarak to go. He also held a meeting with Omar Suleiman, the new vice-president, and representative of a number of opposition parties. Mr Suleiman also talked to other opposition figures. The US ambassador, was another caller, by telephone – the United States had not confirmed any direct contact with Mr ElBaradeias as late as Monday afternoon. There was still no direct sign of Mr Mubarak stepping down, and Mr ElBaradei is not personally popular. But the lack of an alternative future for Egypt after a regime change that looks increasingly likely has made the former UN nuclear agency chief the most credible candidate to maintain stable government. MORE

WIRED: But it does speak to how close the U.S. and Egyptian militaries are. As the New York Times notes, a sizable chunk of Egypt’s officer corps gets educated at American war colleges. Every other year, Egypt hosts a huge multinational military exercise directed by U.S. Central Command called Bright Star, in which the U.S. and lots of its regional and European allies drill together. All this is a peace dividend: as part of the 1977 Camp David accords that forged a durable Egyptian-Israeli peace, Egypt became the America’s second largest arms purchaser. U.S. diplomats and military officers want to preserve that peace, so they haven’t used the arms sales to pressure Mubarak to relax his autocratic ruling style. The U.S. still has some juice with the Egyptian military, however. When protests exploded on Friday, Egypt’s chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Sami Hafez Anan, was at the Pentagon for an annual U.S.-Egyptian parley. U.S. defense officials urged them to exercise restraint on the protesters. For a while, the Army appeared to exhibit that on its own. With a few exceptions, Egyptian troops haven’t opened fire, even as protesters in front of them defy a government curfew. Al Jazeera has broadcasted pictures of soldiers calmly talking with people on the streets — “it’s a very relaxed atmosphere between them,” according to one of the network’s Cairo correspondents. “The people and the army are one hand!” goes one chant. There are reports of troops firing shots into the air to salute the protests. So far. Abrams tanks and other personnel carriers are positioned near major protest areas. The “show of force” could be a sign from the Army that it’s functionally in charge, not Mubarak. Or it could be the prelude to something darker. MORE

[ElBaradei illustration by KERRY WAGHORN]

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