Fox News reports that Hosni Mubarak will address the Egyptian people on national television in a few minutes and will announce his retirement at the end of his term in office. At the moment, Fox is just running this as a headline on their website, but Reuters reports that the speech is scheduled to take place without reporting on its content:
A million people, maybe more, rallied across Egypt on Tuesday, clamoring for President Hosni Mubarak to give up power, piling pressure on a leader who has towered over Middle East politics for 30 years to make way.
As Al Arabiya television reported that the 82-year-old former general was about to broadcast a speech, many believed the moment had come when he would announce his departure. It was not clear whether that might be immediate. Al Arabiya said it had a report he would not run in an election due in September.
The powerful, U.S.-supported army watched benignly over the biggest protests Egypt has ever seen and attention was quickly turning to what comes after Mubarak. More military rule, an Islamist surge or a reform-minded coalition for national unity all seem possible. So, too, do both order and chaos.
Why else would Mubarak speak today at the apex of the protests, with over a million people in the streets of Cairo? It certainly sounds like some sort of concession, although Mubarak may still think he can hang onto power and survive the crisis. The US apparently doesn’t think so, as it has ordered non-essential personnel out of the country.
The intellectual community of Egypt calls on Amr Moussa, secretary general of the Arab League, and Sami Enan, Chief of the Egyptian armed forces, to act as leaders of the opposition. We do not want El-Baradei. He spent too much time abroad, and knows nothing of the daily reality of the Egyptian people. He does not represent us,” declares on Facebook a professor of economics lecturer at the University Amércaine Cairo (AUC).
This might be good news. Dondero also believes the Muslim Brotherhood has vetoed ElBaradei, too. Reuters reports on a favorable comment from the Muslim Brotherhood, calling Enan a “good, liberal man”:
Egypt’s armed forces chief of staff Sami Enan could be an acceptable successor to Hosni Mubarak because he is perceived as incorruptible, a member of the banned Muslim Brotherhood said on Tuesday.
Kamel El-Helbawy, a prominent overseas cleric from Egypt’s main opposition movement, told Reuters that Enan, who has good ties with Washington, was a liberal who could be seen as suitable by an opposition coalition taking shape on the streets of Egypt.
“He can be the future man of Egypt,” Helbawy said in a telephone interview.
“I think he will be acceptable … because he has enjoyed some good reputation. He is not involved in corruption. The people do not know him (as corrupt).”
Update: Fox News now has a report up on its site with this news, as well as this odd development:
Al-Jazeera reports that the Egyptian Embassy in Tel Aviv is making preparations to welcome him into exile.
He’s going into exile in Israel? I find that impossible to believe. It sounds as if Al Jazeera is drinking the kool-aid being served on the streets of Cairo. With that aside, the next elections are in September, seven months away. Will Egyptians abide Mubarak for that long? I find that almost as difficult to believe.
Update II: So far, the early reaction is decidedly negative on the seven-month farewell tour:
That will not satisfy many of those on the streets who want Mubarakand his ruling party to step aside immediately.
Cairo’s Tahrir (Liberation) Square was jammed with people ranging from lawyers and doctors to students and jobless poor, the crowd spilling into surrounding streets.
“He goes, we are not going,” chanted a crowd of men, women and children as a military helicopter hovered over the sea of people in the square, many waving Egyptian flags and banners.
They’re not chanting for liberation in seven or eight months on the streets of Cairo, Alexandria, and Suez today.