A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
February 1, 2011 Mubark Says He Will Not Run Again, Not Enough For Demonstrators
Another day of demonstrations in Egypt ended today with speeches given by President Mubarak and followed by President Obama. In his speech President Mubarak promised not to run for another term and pledged to make reforms. The speech might have been successful if he had given it last Thursday. Alas, today, it seems to be too little, too late. That became clear an hour or so later, when President Obama spoke to the world. Among other things, Obama called on the Egyptian President to begin a meaningful transition, starting now. I am not sure what President Obama was attempting to accomplish in his speech, other than to try to give Mubarak an additional push.
There were varying accounts regarding the number of people attending today's rally in Egypt. While the exact number is unclear, it was clearly larger than any of the other days. Calls went out, throughout the crowd to put Mubarak on trial. From today's photos and TV coverage, it looks like the crowd was more religious, with the Muslim Brotherhood beginning to turn out its people as well. There was, however, no violence. The crowds were controlled. They worked hard to maintain friendly relations with the army forces. It would be trite to say that the next few days are critical. However, they certainly are. If Mubarak steps down and his newly appointed Vice President takes over, I believe the demonstrators will be blunted. There will be time to develop an alternative transitional government leading to elections, and even possibly to the civic government needed for a true democracy. It is only an outside shot, but it's the only shot there is for a non-catastrophic outcome.
Meanwhile, in Israel, the Galant affair came to an end tonight, when Israel's Attorney-General stated he could no longer defend Galant's appoinment to the High Court. Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak were then forced to tell General Galant they were rescinding his appointment. In this situation, observors were sure Barak would be forced to ask Chief of Staff Ashkenazi to extend his service, while the process of selecting and preparing an new Chief of Staff took place. However, Barak's dislike of Ashkenazi must be so strong that he could not get himself to do that. Instead it was announced that the newly appointed Deptuty Chief of Staff Major General Yair Naveh would become the acting chief of staff. Most Israelis would sleep better at night knowing that the current popular Chief of Staff's appointment was extended a few months-- expecially in light of the dicey strategic situation Israel now finds itself-- Rather than the appointment of an interim chief, who was on no one's short list to become the Chief of Staff. It appears that the happiness of Ehud Barak comes first.
The excruciatingly slow wheels of Israeli justice turned today, when the police recommended the indictment of the two sons of Prime Minister Sharon for activity that took place in 2002. I have no opinion on the substance of the charges, which relate to a case of alleged political bribery, but nine year later?