Thursday, February 10, 2011

Meet the new boss?

I haven't written much about what's been going on in Egypt (or Tunisia, or Yemen, for that matter), because the time that I don't have I make for in ignorance. Nevertheless, it's been extraordinary to watch unfold. And now, perhaps, this.

CAIRO — The command of Egypt’s military stepped forward Thursday in an attempt to end a three-week-old uprising, declaring on state television it would take measures “to maintain the homeland and the achievements and the aspirations of the great people of Egypt” and meet the demands of the protesters. The development appeared to herald the end of President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule.

But I wonder if the protesters will feel victorious in ushering in a military government, even one that promises to meet their demands.

Several military leaders and officials in Mr. Mubarak’s government indicated that the president intended to step down on Thursday. Some reports said he aimed to pass authority to his hand-picked vice president, Omar Suleiman, but what role Mr. Suleiman would play in a military government, if any, remained uncertain.

We've been told repeatedly about the respect Egyptian society has for its military, and perhaps this will lead to an orderly transition to a more democratic political system, but I don't know of too many military leaders in history who have gladly given up political power at the end of a "transition" to civilian rule.

The character of the military’s intervention and the shape of a new Egyptian government remained uncertain. A flurry of reports on state media on Thursday indicated a degree of confusion — or competing claims — about what kind of shift was underway, raising the possibility that a competing forces did not necessarily see the power transfer the same way.



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