A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, February 4, 2011

"Day of Departure" Sees No Departure

It's hard to know how to read the tea leaves today. There appear to have been large turnouts for the "Day of Departure" demonstrations, and very little violence. That's good, and suggests the Army is
enforcing order but not suppressing popular protests.

There are number of reports suggesting that the US and/or the "wise men" committee representing the opposition are in negotiations with the military and senior leadership; reports that the assets of a number of former officials and businessmen have been frozen continues. It may be that some sort of transition is taking place even if Mubarak is still technically in place; ‘Omar Suleiman seems to be exercising most of the powers of the presidency. Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Sami Enan's name keeps turning up, I notice, suggesting the Army is very much involved in whatever is going on behind closed doors.

Obviously, the "Day of Departure" did not produce a departure. But something seems to be moving, and at least the violence of the past couple of days seems to have been muted. Still, the clampdown on the foreign press has limited reporting.

I'd also note that whst we've been seeing from what TV there still is, is downtown Cairo and the seaside corniche in Alexandria. What's going on in the residential areas, let alone all of Egypt's other cities, is mostly invisible. It's hard to know what's going on in the countryside.

1 comment:

David Mack said...

Tonight, on the NPR News Hour, Ayman Nour sounded 90 percent ready to accept compromise whereby Mubarak kept his title while going into effective retirement and transferring powers to Omar Suleiman to make reforms necessary for the transition period. Exhaustion may be setting in, along with pressures on opposition leaders from all those Egyptians who want a return to something like normal in order to put bread on the table.