The Other McCain

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Army Chief Lt. Gen. Sami Enan Likely Mubarak Successor, Says French Report UPDATE: Mubarak Gives TV Speech, Will Step Aside After September Election

Posted on | February 1, 2011 | 26 Comments

UPDATE 4:15 p.m. ET: Just watched Mubarak’s speech, which included expressions of his patriotism and determination to ensure a peaceful transition. The question is whether the protesters will accept this. Associated Press:

President Hosni Mubarak announced Tuesday that he will step down in September when a new Egyptian president is elected. . . .
The throngs who have been protesting day after day say they will accept nothing short of Mubarak’s immediate departure. . . .

UPDATE 4:25 p.m. ET: The live translation of Mubarak’s speech on Fox News was somewhat shaky, but he said he would work with the Egyptian parliament to change the constitution to limit presidential terms. He also vowed that he would stay in Egypt. In response to his speech, protesters in Cairo shouted, “Leave! Leave!”

UPDATE 4:40 p.m. ET: I watched the speech on Fox and then switched to MSNBC to watch their reaction and analysis. Then I clicked onto Al-Jazeera’s English-language live feed online.  Honestly, the Al-Jazeera coverage was a lot more informative than either U.S. network, and much less irritating than MSNBC.

Al-Jazeera had a live interview with one of the protesters in Cairo, who made an important point: Mubarak’s vow to stay on through September was unpopular with the protesters, but will likely be received more favorably by the 70 million or so Egyptians who are not participating in the protests.

In other words, Mubarak may have cleverly undermined popular support for the unrest. We shall have to wait and see what happens next.

UPDATE 6:30 p.m. ET: Associated Press video about the Mubarak speech:

We are now awaiting an Obama speech with reaction to Mubarak.

PREVIOUSLY: Eric Dondero at Libertarian Republican has a report on what may be an important development, from a French daily newspaper:

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).

That’s Dondero’s translation of the French story. While this declaration seems tentative, Dondero notes that the report includes a link to the Muslim Brotherhood, which evidently has vetoed El-Baradei. Dondero also links similar reports from both Reuters and the Kuwaiti Gulf News service.

UPDATE: Evidently, the Pentagon trusts Gen. Enan:

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke [Monday] about the situation in Egypt, where an enormous wave of demonstrations has the government in turmoil. The demonstrators are calling for President Hosni Mubarak to step down.
Mullen said he spoke with his Egyptian counterpart, Army Lt. Gen. Sami Enan, by phone and received an update on the situation.
“He assures me that they’re very focused on this, and they will continue to be a stabilizing influence within their country,” Mullen said. “So again, [it’s a] very tough situation. There’s great uncertainty right now, and we certainly are looking for a future which stabilizes, we hope, as fast as possible.”

And Gen. Enan is seen as “incorruptible,” earning him praise from one exiled Islamic leader:

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. . . .”

This seems encouraging: A military leader respected by the Pentagon and not opposed by the Muslim Brotherhood. Nevertheless, it’s best to remain cautious both as to (a) whether Gen. Enan will in fact emerge as the post-Mubarak leader, and (b) whether in such a scenario, Gen. Enan would be able to restrain the Islamic radicals whose support he would need.

UPDATE II: The situation appears to be developing rapidly now. It’s now reported that Mubarak will give a speech announcing plans to step down after the September election, and Ed Morrissey has now picked up the news about Gen. Enan via Dondero.

UPDATE III: Very rapid developments indeed:

President Obama has told the embattled president of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, that he should not run for another term in elections in the fall, effectively withdrawing American support for its closest Arab ally, according to American diplomats in Cairo and Washington.
Al Arabiya television, citing unnamed sources, reported that Mr. Mubarak would announce in a nationwide address Tuesday evening that he would not run for another term.

We’re reporting this stuff very close to real-time, folks.

UPDATE IV:  Linked by Si Vis Pacem — thanks! — and here’s the Wall Street Journal‘s report:

President Hosni Mubarak will address the nation as hundreds of thousands of Egyptians gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square to call for an end of his rule and international pressure mounts to find a peaceful solution to the crisis. U.S. President Barack Obama has conveyed a message to Mr. Mubarak asking him to decline to run in the next election
There are no specific details of the content of Mr. Mubarak’s address, which comes as hundreds of thousands of Egyptians filed into Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Tuesday, forming the largest crowd yet in eight days of demonstrations. Al Arabiya TV, without citing its sources, reported the president will say he will step down at the next election but stay in office until then.

Donald Douglas has a massive update with lots of video at American Power. This is my third post today on Egypt, each post with multiple updates. If you had told me a week ago that I’d be “all-Egypt-all-the-time” today, I never would have believed it.

UPDATE V: Ace of Spades gets a lot of flak saying that the protesters won’t accept Mubarak’s offer to step down in several months.

Here’s the way I view this situation: Suppose that about half of the protesters find this to be an acceptable compromise, and the “world community” also supports it. So the massive crowds dwindle, as the more moderate and peaceable protesters go back home. This would leave a bunch of angry radical dead-enders trying to foment unrest when, clearly, the revolutionary moment has passed. At that point, the army and the police could play a bit of hardball, state-run media would portray the radical types as troublemakers, and the radicals would be isolated without widespread support.

That’s one way it could play out, but obviously the situation is volatile and dynamic. We continue to await Mubarak’s promised TV speech. It’s now pushing on 11 p.m. Cairo time, so he’d better hurry up.



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