Rocks and hard place, Egypt and Obama’s ambling amiability
Obama’s ambling amiability, waffling wavering style makes interpreting where the US stands as hard as finding a watering hole in the desert. It is as difficult as finding new facts and meaning from a Leon Panetta CIA briefing.
The Egyptian Army is funded by $1.8 billion of US money. It holds the lever on the Mubarak trap door. Does he go, or does he stay? When does he go?
It may be a surprise ending and exit, but the people are fed up and the army can’t risk turning their tanks onto Egyptians. If the people keep the heat on, the army will keep talking with them and eventually, someone will pull the lever.
“Army promises 'free and fair' elections in Egypt
Military's supreme council calls for a return to 'normal way of life'
CAIRO — Egypt's powerful army said Friday it would lift emergency law, promised a fair presidential election and guaranteed other concessions to protesters, but signalled it now wanted them off the streets.
The comments came after President Hosni Mubarak enraged protesters by saying in a speech Thursday he was only handing some powers to Vice President Omar Suleiman instead of quitting office now. Protesters have called for big demonstration against Mubarak on Friday.
The military's Supreme Council, in a statement called "Communique No. 2," acknowledged the delegation of powers to Suleiman, indicating that they stood squarely behind the president's decision not to leave immediately.
It also pledged to "preserve the stability and safety of the nation" and said the army "confirms the lifting of the state of emergency as soon as the current circumstances end," a promise that would remove a law imposed for 30 years that protesters say is used to stifle dissent.
The statement added that "the legislative amendments required to conduct a free and fair presidential election" would be implemented.
The army, whose role is seen as critical in the coming days in placating the masses, said the "honest men who said no to corruption and called for reform" would not be prosecuted.
It called for the protesters to go home so life could return to normal. The demonstrations have knocked the economy.
The army "confirms the need to resume orderly work in the government installations and a return to normal life, preserve the interests and property of our great people."
The statement was made after the Supreme Council held a meeting Friday, chaired by Defense Minister Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, state TV reported. Mubarak was not present.
Friday's statement was likely to further anger protesters attempting to drive Mubarak from power.
"We expected the army's decision, we always knew that it was behind Mubarak. But we know it's not going to harm us," Safi Massoud said as she joined thousands of people packed into Cairo's central Tahrir Square.
"We wont leave until we choose a transition president. We don't want Mubarak, we don't want Suleiman," she added.
'Take over the palace'
One group of protesters gathered outside Mubarak's palace in Cairo and the army did not try to remove them, a Reuters witness said.
"Down, down Hosni Mubarak," chanted the protesters. A sign delivering the same message had been attached to barbed wire that was blocking one of the entrances to the palace.
Early Friday, there were a few dozen people, but the crowd quickly grew to several hundred. One demonstrator near the palace, teacher Mahmoud Abdel-Wahid, said Mubarak "got the message but he is ignoring it."
One protester said the demonstrators would "take over the palace." "We'll have masses of Egyptians after Friday prayer to take it over," said Ahmed Farouk, 27.
"We will march to the palace and oust Mubarak, and we know the world is on our side," said another demonstrator, Nurhaan Ismael, 34. "The army is relaxed at the moment. They put barbed wire all around (the roads to the palace) but they know the will of the people will topple anything."
Other protests were being held at locations across Cairo, including the central Tahrir Square, on what was has been dubbed "Farewell Friday."
In a statement emailed to its Facebook followers, which was published by the U.K's Guardian newspaper, the April 6 youth movement described Mubarak's Thursday speech as "an astonishing piece of hypocritical filth" and called for a general strike.
"This man who sat atop of the regime which brutalized his people for 30 years, and tried in the last 17 days to destroy the movement any way that it could shed crocodile tears for the people that his police had killed. Over 300 people have died to force him from power, and after cursing the movement and trying to drown them in blood he addresses his speech to the 'youth of the nation,'" it said.
"These are the youth of the nation who have risen up against him and hate him with a passion — they have nothing in common with him or his regime. They are the future and he is the past, that is why he has fought against them so violently," the statement added.
April 6 said it was unclear whether Mubarak was defying the army or working with them.”