A Worried Regime
"The developments come as the New York Times reports, quoting US officials and Arab diplomats, that the US administration is discussing with Egyptian officials a proposal for Mubarak to resign immediately, turning over power to a transitional government headed by Omar Suleiman, the newly appointed vice-president, with the support of the Egyptian military.
"The Egyptian president, for his part, says he has had enough and is ready to go but fears chaos if he resigns now...
"Ahmed Shafiq, Egypt's new prime minister, said the interior minister should not obstruct Friday's peaceful marches. The interior ministry has denied it ordered its agents or officers to attack pro-democracy demonstrators...
"In a move to try to calm the situation, Suleiman, the vice-president, said on Thursday the Muslim Brotherhood had been invited to meet the new government as part of a national dialogue with all parties.
"An offer to talk to the banned but tolerated group would have been unthinkable before protests erupted on January 25, indicating the gains made by the pro-democracy movement since then."
Shafiq's comments, Mubarak's comments, the possibility of U.S. brokerage, and the attempt to peel the Muslim Brotherhood out of the opposition all show that the regime does not feel it has the situation under control. This is entirely due to the heroism of those in Midan Tahrir:
"Protesters in Tahrir Square, dominated now by a youthful hard core including secular middle-class graduates and mostly poorer Muslim Brotherhood activists, barely listened, saying the concessions were too little and too late...
"Doctors in makeshift hospitals at the scene said at least 10 people were dead and 800 wounded after armed men and stick-wielding Mubarak supporters attacked protesters on the streets. The UN estimates that number to be much higher.
"Close to the Egyptian Museum, home to 7,000 years of civilisation, men fought with rocks, clubs and makeshift shields, as US-built tanks from the Egyptian army made intermittent efforts to intervene.
"There were sporadic clashes throughout Thursday as the army fanned out to separate the two sides and allowed thousands more protesters to enter their camp in the square.
"An Al Jazeera online producer in Cairo said: 'The battle for downtown Cairo took on an almost medieval quality, with protesters erecting makeshift barricades and building homemade catapults to launch rocks at each other.'
"He described the contrast between both sides' tactics as striking. 'The pro-democracy protesters organised themselves, building walls and seizing strategic locations; the pro-Mubarak crowd mostly advanced in a mob, hurling rocks and then retreating under return fire,' he said."
(Crossposted to American Footprints)