Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak announced today that he will not step aside as President. While he did transfer supervisory power to his Vice President a defiant Mubarak vowed to remain as President until elections are held in September and to remain in Egypt until he dies. Multiple news sources reported that Mubarak would announce that he was stepping down and a huge crowd had gathered in Cairo’s Liberation Square to hear his departing words.
The joyous crowd in Egypt’s Liberation Square, anticipating Mubarak’s departure, erupted in anger and bitter disappointment threatening to throw the country into violence. They see Mubarak’s speech as a shell game where he professes to transfer power but remains in charge in the shadows. They do not just want Mubarak to leave they want the entire regime removed. There were already large demonstrations planned for tomorrow. Given today’s events those demonstrations will no doubt be larger and more volatile. There are real concerns of a major escalation in the unrest as the army may finally step in to quell the protestors.
Locally the US government is trying to make sense of current events. Isolationist legislators are already calling for the US to pull their support not only from Egypt but form the entire area saying that any investment of blood and treasure is wasted. The US had tried to ease Mubarak out gently prodding him to bend to the will of the people. In his speech Mubarak pronounced that he would not bow to the directive of foreign countries, seeming to address his remarks directly to the US government.
President Mubarak gave what amounted to a war speech. He was defiant in his resolve to stay until the end and die in his country.
Former National Security Advisor Aaron Miller said that "historically Middle Eastern nations do not say “no” to the United States without sustaining severe financial and political consequences. Hosni Mubarak just said “No” to the United States."
As we said previously, the democratic process can be ugly. Tomorrow promises to be the start of a very ugly period for the Egyptian people.