Be careful what you wish for. Egypt appears to be under control of its military today.
Thousands of protesters have gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square awaiting word on whether Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will stay in office amid conflicting reports as he is expected to address the nation Thursday evening.
A senior Egyptian official confirms to Fox News that President Hosni Mubarak will step down shortly and transfer authority to the Egyptian Higher Council of the Armed Forces — but Egypt’s information minister tells Reuters that “the president is definitely not going to step down.”
The group is comprised of the minister of defense, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi – who stands atop the military hierarchy – along with the military’s chief of staff, the chief of operations, and commanders of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Air Defenses.
In a statement read on Egyptian television, a spokesman reportedly said, “Stemming from the armed forces’ responsibility and committing to the protection of the people, safeguarding their interest and security, and keen on the safety of the homeland, the citizens and the achievements of the great Egyptian people, and asserting the legitimate rights of the people, the Higher Council of the Armed Forces convened today, Thursday, Feb. 10, 2011, to deliberate on the latest developments of the situation and decided to 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.”
My guess is that the military is about to crack down – hard – on the protests. The result of the fall of Mubarak will not be anything like what the protesters expected. Nothing at all.
And I’m pretty sure the Obama administration just blew it, big time. We have probably lost all or most influence with the Egyptians, both in and out of power.
UPDATE: And all hell is about to break loose. In a surprise move, Mubarak is NOT stepping down.
Here are the latest developments, as confirmed by CNN, on the uprising in Egypt. Throngs of demonstrators have taken to the streets of Egypt’s major cities to demand an end to President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule, prompting the government to deploy the military to deal with civil unrest for the first time in a generation. Check out our full coverage and the latest tweets from CNN correspondents on the ground.
[Update 12:40 p.m. in Cairo, 5:40 p.m. ET President Hosni Mubarak has transfered all effective powers of the presidency to Vice President Omar Suleiman, making Suleiman the de-facto president of Egypt, the Egyptian Ambassador to the United States said.
"The president did indicate very clearly he was transferring all his presidential authority to the vice president," Sameh Shoukry told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "President Mubarak has transferred the powers of the presidency to his vice president, who will now undertake all authority as president."
That makes Suleiman the head of the military, according to Shoukry, attributing the information to the Egyptian government.
[Update 12:25 p.m. in Cairo, 5:25 p.m. ET] CNN’s Ivan Watson says you need only look at the network of tents and a makeshift wooden shelter erected in the middle of Tahrir Square for evidence of what people are planning to do next: “These people are not going. ‘When he leaves, we leave.’ This is just the beginning.”
All indications earlier pointed to the military stepping in. Now that may still happen, but in a much more harsh way than even I anticipated. Yes, Mubarak essentially gave up all his powers to the new VP – but the VP is even more a product of the military than Mubarak is.
Last link via Memeorandum