Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Egypt: Second Tuesday (Updated)

Here's where things are as of now (expect updates on this later):

The mass protests have formed, and they are indeed massive. Cairo protest may be in the hundreds of thousands; Alexandria and Suez are reporting thousands; other demonstrations are reported in the smaller cities and Upper Egypt.

Yesterday's Egypt Update here had news of Frank G. Wisner Jr. getting the call to act as a "representative" for the Obama administration. Just for fairness sake, here is FP's Josh Rogin's take on the choice: "...too close to Mubarak?".


Related item: It may be that an effort to forestall the growth of protests that have started in Jordan is underway. King Abdullah of Jordan has dismissed his cabinet and appointed a new prime minister amid large street protests. Luck on that. Having Jordan go up at the same time as Egypt, and yet no one in Syria thinking to burn down the House of Assad, is either an ugly coincidence or the best managed Islamist plot in decades. If the protests do continue to spread (Yemen doesn't count; the South hates the Northern government 24/7, they don't need inspiration) we'll have a clue, though. A spread to Syria would plausibly be a self-generated movement; A spread to Saudi Arabia would more likely be something orchestrated (and very short lived, in my opinion. The House of Saud does not tolerate disturbances.) A spread to Libya would be... well, who cares why?... great.


Update, end of day Tuesday, 'blog time:

Mubarak spoke to his media outlets... said a lot of what would be expected... about the only thing worth taking seriously is the 'promise' not to run as a candidate in the election coming this September and to step down from office after that election.

Note to Kyoudou (Kyodo wire service; Japan) and their AP partners: Getting the story WRONG doesn't help. Mubarak said he IS NOT running again.

Then... there is this. I have no reason to disbelieve Clarice Feldman, nor her now-attributed correspondent, but since the letter is one of opinion there isn't much to trace for authenticity. What I can say is, based on other sources, much of what is said about protest sizes, orchestration, police roles and the sense of how this is being a bit gamed all seem to be true or closely authentic opinion.

So we watch, we wait, and might I suggest keeping a deep suspicion of anyone who claims to be a "leader" of all this... political, regime, or opposition. I'm not sure there is a real leader. In fact, I'd like it better by far if there wasn't.

But there might be one. Look very carefully.

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