|Protesters were offered on Tuesday a few concessions by Mubarak, who promised not to run again for office [AFP]|
As the situation in Egypt escalates, Hosni Mubarak and Barack Obama have made what sounded like co-ordinated statements offering a road map for a transitional period towards new elections.
The US president reportedly asked his Egyptian counterpart not to take part in the next elections, thus lowering the expectations of those hoping for a quick and prompt resignation.
Mubarak’s speech showed a president in denial over his legacy, blaming certain harmful policies for the ills of Egypt and proposing to change them while neglecting to take responsibility for them and for the many other failures and violations of his regime.
He also didn’t express regret, let alone take responsibility, for the more than 200 people killed over the last few days.
Mubarak offered the boiling street a few concessions, promising to not to run again for office, changes to the constitution relating to the presidency, and speeding accountability of corrupt leaders and reversing the “discrepancies” of the last elections etc.
On the other hand, he held the leaders of the uprising responsible for the escalation on the streets, and threatened to prosecute those responsible. Threatening all that, it’s either him or instability and chaos.
However, judging from his record, the president will not be trusted. While a few might buy into his promises of transition to democracy, many take only his threats seriously.
Not Obama, who praised the Egyptian military and asked Mubarak to start the transition now rather than later.
The US president has been playing catch-up with events in Egypt and elsewhere, trying to maintain US relevance as breath taking events shape the Arab world and the region.
But it will be difficult to maintain the double sweet talk for a long time, especially if escalation begins and the idea of transition under Mubarak proves as expected to be more problematic that without him.
If the leaders of the uprising maintain their ultimatum to Mubarak, either he will be leaving by Friday or they will be marching to the presidential palace. Expect the situation to deteriorate further.