It was a rollercoaster day in Egypt. Protester’s expectations were elevated when several reliable sources started saying Mubarak is stepping down. People and organizations who gave hint of Mubarak stepping down includes White House giving a hint that the “situation is fluid”; CIA director saying it looks like Mubarak will step down and give power to Soleiman; Saudi’s TV station Al-Arabiya saying Mubarak will step down and hand power to Soleiman; Even the government party NDP is saying they expect Mubarak to step down. Protesters started celebrating although they fear Soleiman might take over. But they still believe Mubarak stepping down is a cause for celebration.
White House then issued a short statement boosting hope that Mubarak is stepping down.Then it was reported that Mubarak is meeting with his VP Soleiman.
And then Mubarak spoke, later than originally scheduled. He said he is delegating power to his VP but is staying on. Soleiman then asked people to go home and go back to work. Crowds were very disappointed. Some started marching toward the State TV and the heavily guarded Presidential Palace. While others head home chanting “Tomorrow, Tomorrow”.
Protesters were evidently disappointed and angry. But regular vocal posters at Twitter warned people that this might be a bait to make them angry and resort to violence. Which can then be used to justify a violent crackdown. Protesters were encouraged to remain peaceful tomorrow. White House seems to have been caught off guard too. They later release a longer statement which seems to side with the protesters, their clearest statement yet acknowledging the diversity of the protesters.
Organizers are hoping for millions of people again tomorrow in what they hope will be a decisive day. Today’s crowd includes medical staff dressed in their white uniform. Lawyers also joined the march. There were also report of Cairo’s bus going on strike. People also marched for a 15 year old boy who was shot to death. He went missing the day Mubarak’s thugs were unleashed. His father found his body in the hospital.
Arab Alliance Against Egyptian Protesters
Some Egyptians expressed disbelief that Arab alliances are siding with Mubarak. “Gulf consortium of Saudi, UAE and Kuwait” is said to have offered $5 billion to Egypt if U.S. pulls out their billion dollar aid. White House getting caught off guard indicate there might have been a last minute change and it seems like Mubarak did not follow the plan.
Which Side is the Army With?
Lt. Gen. Sami Hafez Anan Egypt’s Armed Forces Chief of Staff appeared on Tahrir square earlier in the day pledging to meet the protesters demands and protect their security. Some wonder if there might be a split in the army. Defense Ministry Tantawi, considered to be a loyal Mubarak’s man, is also a member of the Armed Forces Supreme Council.
CBS reported on the the military meeting earlier in the day, before Mubarak made his announcement.
The military’s supreme council convened Thursday – tellingly, without the commander in chief Mubarak – and announced on state TV its “support of the legitimate demands of the people.” A spokesman read a statement that the council was in permanent session to explore “what measures and arrangements could be made to safeguard the nation, its achievements and the ambitions of its great people.”
The statement was labeled “communique number 1,” a phrasing that suggests a military coup.
Footage on state TV showed Defense Minster Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi chairing the meeting of two dozen top stern-faced army officers, seated around a table. At Tantawi’s right was military chief of staff Gen. Sami Anan. Not present was Mubarak, the commander in chief and a former air force chief, or his vice president, Omar Suleiman, a former army general and intelligence chief named to his post after the protests erupted Jan. 25.
It remains to be seen which side the military would take if pro-democracy crowd push their way to the Presidential Palace, Parliament and State TV tomorrow. Some posters on the internet suggested that people should bring flowers for the military and try to win over the soldiers and young officers.