President Obama, Tell Mubarak To Resign
It's now time for President Obama to stop equivocating--he must tell Mubarak to resign so that Egyptians can embark on a peaceful post-Mubarak transition and freely elect their leadership. The longer Mubarak and Suleiman stay, the more likelihood that the transition may not be peaceful in the end. It's a risk that must be avoided.
Hosni Mubarak's announcement that he was transferring presidential powers to his vice president, Omar Suleiman, who until recently was also torturer-in-chief while retaining the title of president, has only inflamed the demonstrators at Tahrir Square further.
It also shows that Mubarak, his vice president and senior advisors are way behind the curve. It is difficult to imagine how the corrupt multi-billioniare president and Suleiman will avoid being swept away by the tide of history.
Mubarak essentially went on national television and announced no news. The whole world knew that powers were effectively transferred last week to Suleiman in form if not officially. Yet when rulers stay too long in office, they lose touch with the populace. In Hosni Mubarak's case, it seems that he has also lost touch with reality.
Does President Mubarak really believe the "news" that he will remain president will get Egyptians off Tahrir Square? Does he still believe that he can unleash the Army against the populace as the whole world witnesses Egypt's revolution? Earlier, his senior aides had reportedly announced that he would step down.
Has the Army now split, with hardliners --older officers who belong to Mubarak's generation-- urging him to dig in? That would mean Mubarak could face danger from younger officers, who unlike Mubarak, know about the powers of Facebook and Twitter and realize that Egypt is at a unique point in its history; a point of no return.
Omar Suleiman yesterday blamed the protestors and said Egyptians are "not yet ready" for democracy and accused media of inflaming the passions of Egytians--that in itself is a great insult to the people of Egypt. As if Suleiman and Mubarak had been preparing Egypt over the past 30 years for democracy.
Suleiman may now be just as detested as Mubarak--he cannot preside over any transition and may find himself on the same plane exiting Egypt with Mubarak.
President Mubarak argues that Egypt needs him for "stability." He's 82 years old and has been in office for three decades. He created no succession mechanism--did he believe that he would live forever? Rather than "stability" he has actually created the conditions that have now caused Egyptians to come to the streets.
Ironically, Mubarak and Suleiman, by equivocating, are creating an even more combustible condition with their intransigence. The Army must not permit Mubarak and Suleiman to create a split between the military and the populace.
The U.S. supplies Egypt with more than $1.5 billion in annual aid, mostly for its military and has great influence over Mubarak. The White House has urged Egyptian authorities to start transition "now." It's time for President Obama to go beyond prodding and equivocating just because Mubarak is more useful to the U.S. than he is to Egyptians. Obama must tell Mubarak to resign so that Egyptians can embark on a peaceful post-Mubarak transition and freely elect their leadership. Obama would not infringe on Egyptian sovereignty, since that's been hijacked from the populace by Mubarak and the $1.5 billion from Washington from the populace.
The longer Mubarak and Suleiman stay, the more likelihood that the transition may not be peaceful in the end. It's a risk that must be avoided at all cost.
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