By Taylor Marvin
From Shadi Hamid:
While this is unconfirmed, there is good reason to suspect that the government will attempt to break the unofficial truce between the military and the protesters that’s mostly held for the last six days. As of yesterday wealthy Egyptian businessmen were reported leaving the country, indicating that at least some of the country’s elite feel that the situation is approaching a breaking point. Given that Mubarak seems to believe that the majority of Egyptian’s grievances are with his government and not him personally and his governance can still survive the unrest there’s a good chance that a crackdown is coming. The US is likely the only player with the leverage over Mubarak to prevent this. Hillary Clinton’s comments from this morning don’t send this message clearly enough:
“We do not want to send any message about backing forward or backing back. What we’re trying to do is to help clear the air so that those who remain in power, starting with President Mubarak, with his new vice president, with the new prime minister, will begin a process of reaching out, of creating a dialogue that will bring in peaceful activists and representatives of civil society to, you know, plan a way forward that will meet the legitimate grievances of the Egyptian people.”
This isn’t strong enough. President Obama’s desire to avoid taking a side in Egypt is understandable- Mubarak is an important US and Israeli ally, an Egyptian government dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood terrifies many American policymakers, and Obama wants to hedge his bets. But this isn’t Tunisia, or Eastern Europe in 1989. We have good reason to suspect that many people are going to die in the next week, and the US needs to make it clear to the Egyptian military that whatever the outcome a violent crackdown means the end of US military aid forever.
Danger Room has a perceptive tweet:
This seems as far as security forces can escalate harassment of protesters before getting into the really lethal stuff. Next up could be the tanks, which entered central Cairo yesterday.