When Hosni Mubarak announced last night he planned to stay in office until September, the Obama administration appeared totally shocked. Why? Almost certainly because the administration has been working closely with the Egyptian military, and the military was shocked as well:
Maj. Gen. Safwat El-Zayat, a former senior official of Egypt's General Intelligence and member of the Egyptian Council of Foreign Affairs, asserted, in an interview with Ahram Online, that the address delivered by President Mubarak last night was formulated against the wishes of the armed forces, and away from their oversight. He claimed that Vice Preisdent Omar Suleiman's address, which came on the heels of Mubarak's address, was equally in defiance of the armed forces and away from its oversight.
Attributing this information to his own sources within the Egyptian military, Maj. Gen. El-Zayat said there was now a deep cleavage between the armed forces, represented in its Supreme Council, and the Presidential authority, represented in both President Mubarak and his Vice President, Omar Suleiman.
According to El-Zayat, communiqué #2 issued this morning by the Supreme Armed Forces Council was not, as many people in Egypt and elsewhere understood it, an affirmation of the addresses of Mubarak and Suleiman, but rather an attempt to avoid an open conflict, while at the same time underlining that the army will act as guarantor for the transition to full democracy. He advised that people should listen carefully to the anticipated communique #3.
I'll join all the other domestic-focused bloggers by noting that I have no expertise to offer here but I'm as fascinated and moved by the events in Egypt as anybody. Who knows what the future holds for Egypt -- at the moment we're witnessing one of the most promising moments in the whole history of the Arab world, and I feel giddy. On to democracy in Egypt. And on to Iowa for Mubarak!