Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Fall of the House of Mubarak

When last I commented on the situation in Egypt, I was remarking on the fact that Hosni Mubarak was trying to engineer a face saving exit from power.

By refusing to resign Thursday night he wanted to make it appear that he was standing up to pressure from the American president.

Evidently, he had miscalculated. Not so much about the virtue of not looking like a stooge, but in thinking that his well-crafted compromise would calm the situation, preserve his legacy, and maintain the good reputation of the Egyptian military.

As it happened, the public outrage at Mubarak’s refusal to resign backed the Egyptian military into a corner. It could stand and fall with Mubarak or it could retire him against his will.

It chose the latter course. It sacrificed Mubarak to save its own face, its reputation and its good will among the Egyptian people.

Wise observers of the situation describe yesterday’s events in Cairo as military coup. Here is one analysis from the AP. Link here.

Last night on The O’Reilly Factor, George Friedman of Stratfor, offered a similar analysis.

As Friedman explained, what we saw in Egypt was not a revolution. It was engineered by the military to get rid of someone who had wanted to found a dynasty.

Friedman implied that it was less about saving face than about protecting the ill-gotten gains of Mubarak’s family and cronies.

The Egyptian people, however, seem now to want to hold the military to its word: to facilitate the transition to a representative democracy. And the Muslim Brotherhood is already calling on military leaders to relinquish power as soon as possible.

If military leaders chose to use the protest as a way to disembarrass themselves of someone who had refused to go quietly, they might be about to discover that it is not very easy to ride a tiger.

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