OK. Time for another post/thread on Egypt. The demonstrators are apparently going for a sleepover in Tahrir Square and a lot of the army has shot off towards the presidential palace. So a Tiananmen solution, which I thought was very likely earlier on, doesn’t look on the cards for now. Meanwhile, there are apparently military checkpoints across Cairo and the curfew has been extended. So it’s going to be made more difficult for people to assemble in the first place.
Maybe we can see an endgame emerging. I still don’t think Mubarrak is actually in charge (nor does Issandr El Amrani) but is fronting a seizure of the state by top level securocrats. Against them you have some emerging civil society elements that seem to have pushed El Baradei to the front, primarily I think on grounds of availability. I think that Mubarrak’s ouster will be the substance of the immediate victory that the latter will be allowed.
After that, I think the offer will be genuine elections and greater political pluralism (puls a whole load of food and fuel subsidies), probably inclusive of the Muslim Brotherhood, with the proviso that defense and foreign policy remains in the hands of the security establishment. By then, presumably, the people will be off the streets and maybe this is not such a bad deal that it would get them back out again. This is why El Baradei’s a useful compromise figure. He can’t tell the army what to do, and also he doesn’t have the public backing or demagogic talents to get people out on the streets. An excellent interim president, then, from the point of view of regional and western sponsors. Cometh the hour, cometh the bassett hound in a suit.