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EGYPT: Analysts predict Mubarak speech will incite further unrest

February 10, 2011 |  4:51 pm

Crowd

Foriegn Policy's Marc Lynch called it "the worst speech ever."

Michael Rubin, a Middle East analyst at the right-wing American Enterprise Institute, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp., "It's going to make things worse."

And Fawaz Gerges, a professor of Middle Eastern politics at the London School of Economics, told Reuters, "The speech was one of [Egyptian President Hosni] Mubarak's most defiant moments: As a result the next few days are going to be very, very dangerous for Egypt."

Lynch described Mubarak's address to the nation as "meandering" and "confused."

"He offered a vaguely worded delegation of power to Vice President Omar Suleiman, long after everyone in Egypt had stopped listening," Lynch wrote, adding that Suleiman's address shortly after on Nile TV "made things even worse, if that's possible, telling the people to go home and blaming al-Jazeera for the problems."

"It solidified the already deep distrust of his role among most of the opposition and of the protestors, and tied his fate to that of Mubarak," Lynch wrote of Suleiman.

Lynch anticipates the remarks will galvanized protesters even after 17 days of demonstrations.

"And if things don't explode now, then the crowds tomorrow will be absolutely massive," he wrote.

Gerges noted in his comments to Reuters that during the next few days, unrest would test the military's loyalty to Mubarak.

"Egypt will undergo a profound crisis that will put the army in a very risky position because its authority and unity may be undermined -- will it choose the president or the people?" he said.

Rubin speculated that after violent clashes, the military would side with protesters and take over the government until the September elections.

"Ultimately the army will side with the protesters for two reasons. First of all, while Hosni Mubarak came from the army, he antagonised the army by trying to force his son, force the army to accept his son as his successor," Rubin told ABC. "And the other reason is because of the conscription problem inside Egypt. Many Egyptians don't particularly like being conscripted into the army and ultimately many of the soldiers in the streets will sympathise with the people who are their friends and neighbors."

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— Molly Hennessy-Fiske

 

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