Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Split between Mubarak and Obama

It seems clear to me that Obama finally got exasperated with Mubarak and tried to give him a "final push" by letting the US CIA chief to "announce" that Mubarak was quitting today.

But Mubarak went on TV in Egypt to announce that he wasn't going anywhere. He would give some unspecified "powers" to his VP, but he wasn't going to step down or go anywhere.

So Obama's game plan has come to an end. The hope that the US could quietly manage things through the Egyptian army has come to naught. The army is corrupt. It stands behind Mubarak. The gentle nudge by the CIA didn't force anybody's hand.

So now the US looks like a fool. As one news analyst put it, Mubarak just gave Obama "the finger" and told him he could take his $1.5 billion and stuff it.

So the choices have become more stark. Either the lower levels of the army brass rise up in a real coup with real bullets and really push Mubarak out, or the people take on Mubarak in a blood confrontation, or the Egyptian people say "uncle" and go home and let Mubarak continue to fleece them, imprison them at will, and continue his thuggish ways. My guess is that the army won't revolt and the people won't give up. So I'm back to the scenario that I hope wouldn't happen but looks more and more likely: tens of thousands are going to have to die in order to overthrow the Mubarak dictatorship. The dream of "democracy" will be drowned in blood. If the Egyptians are lucky, the organized parties will still deliver some kind of democracy, but more likely those factions that put guns in the hands of their supporters will seize power and you will have a new regime, most likely a Muslim Brotherhood authoritarian regime.

It didn't have to be this way. If Obama had some cajones and showed leadership and pushed hard (and forced other Arab leaders to take sides) the thing could have been a bloodless coup with a constrainted democracy (under the "tutelage of the army") would have been possible. But now it looks more and more like Obama missed the train. It will be bloody revolution with the most organized people's party coming out the winner. And that "people's party" will not be a democratic organization willing to share the fruits of revolution with others. Nope. They will want to run it all and milk the Egyptian people for $70 billion just like Mubarak milked the people. It is a tragedy.

No comments: