Via The Independent:
After thirty unbroken years as President of Egypt, it had seemed as if Hosni Mubarak's charmed career was finally coming to an end.This is not to suggest that Mubarak is back in the cat bird seat, merely that future control of Egypt still hangs in the balance and is not a foregone conclusion.
But yesterday, Cairo's famous traffic jams were back. Businesses, shops, and banks were open across the capital. Barack Obama spoke of the "progress" the Egyptian government was making towards reform. And though still in tens of thousands, the numbers at Tahrir Square were probably down on the previous day.
Meanwhile, Mr Mubarak, the great survivor, was using all the guile that has kept him in power for so long to produce a series of sweeteners – including a 15 per cent pay rise for state employees – to widen his public support. He even held the first meeting of his new cabinet: the group he had hastily cobbled together as another means of staving off the end. His regime was doing everything in its power to suggest that things were calm once more. In another symbolically conciliatory move, the regime released Wael Ghonim, a local marketing manager for Google, who is a prominent youth activist involved in the protests and was detained three days after they began.
...the increasing signs of normality in parts of Cairo yesterday belied a continuing stalemate between the two sides in the fortnight-old conflict. Even as the regime tried to suggest that it was back to business at usual, the protesters who remain in Tahrir Square angrily argued otherwise.If this uprising fizzles out, the Muslim Brotherhood that is backing it will not go away. It will take notes and reconstitute. One of the scenarios that could be playing out is that the protesters are not being sustained by the Brotherhood and lacked the planning necessary to see this thing through.
There may have been fewer of them than the day before, but they showed no sign of backing down, with the vocal rejection of the regime's insinuations of growing agreement on constitutional reform only the most obvious sign of their determination to carry on. The protesters are deterred from ending the struggle in Tahrir Square by a real fear of arrest, victimisation and revenge by the authorities if they give up.
These protesters, at the moment, are looking like the proverbial toddler who is running out of gas after throwing a tantrum.
If Mubarak does in fact hold on to power, the Obama administration will be in a tough spot after all but demanding he step down while backing a transition to the Brotherhood. Whether Obama was picking winners and losers in the fight for Egypt or if he sides with the Muslim Brotherhood ideologically is immaterial. He may have thrown Mubarak under the bus a little too early.
h/t Hot Air