A Look At The Day's Events In Egypt
ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:
What do you make of this speech? It seemed to be terribly disappointing to a crowd of a million people expecting him to announce that he's stepping down?
M: The only thing that was new in what he said was that he would propose annulment of Article 179 of the constitution, which is a particularly hated article that was amended in 2007 that essentially said that human rights provisions can be set aside in cases of terrorism. So that was a - but it's a very small concession at this point. It's nothing that would get the protestors excited.
SIEGEL: Hosni Mubarak spent a lot of time in this speech today trying to assure protestors that he is committed to punishing those responsible for violent attacks on those protestors and trying to position himself, evidently, as an advocate of Egyptian youth. I think of lot of those people in the square assume that it's his - it's he and his regime who are behind those attacks on protestors.
M: Absolutely. I mean, those attacks, the use of armed thugs, this is a well-known tactic in Egypt. It was totally familiar to people there. And so the - in fact, the continued claims sort of disassociating the government, the claims by Mubarak, by Suleiman and others that they weren't responsible or the government wasn't responsible or it was rogue elements, it just - it detracts from their credibility even further every time they repeat it.
SIEGEL: What did you make of the development earlier in the day, which lent some credence to the reports that President Mubarak would be stepping down, which was that the military command met without President Mubarak present? There was an implication there that the military was taking over.
M: Now we saw some - this strange communique out of the army today. It really makes you wonder if they're starting to lose their grip a bit.
SIEGEL: So, what happens? What do you think happens for a huge crowd in the middle of Cairo anticipating their triumph, at least their first demand, Mubarak out, and instead being confronted with the news that he's staying on and that he's not about to lift the emergency decree?
M: And that's going to place the army under pressure. You know, when the demonstrators want to move, large crowds, hundreds of thousands of people on the move, that's going to place the army under pressure, what to do, to let this happen, to fire on them or what.
SIEGEL: This speech could be the provocation you suspect, for a new turn and a more violent turn in Cairo, possibly.
M: Unfortunately it could be.
SIEGEL: Michele Dunne, thank you very much for talking with us.
M: You're welcome.
SIEGEL: Michele Dunne of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. One of the leaders, she is, of the Working Group on Egypt.
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