Report: Hosni Mubarak To Step Down Today

Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak is expected to step down after 17 days of pro-democracy protests.

MSNBC is reporting some massively important news out of Egypt:

CAIRO — Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak is to step down after 17 days of pro-democracy protests, two sources told NBC News on Thursday.

Following an all-day meeting of the country’s supreme military council, the army said all the protesters’ demands would be met and a further statement was expected to be made later Thursday, clarifying the situation.

Mubarak was expected to formally announce his departure in an address to the nation tonight.

NBC News said a high-ranking source inside the president’s office said that Mubarak would step down and the newly appointed vice president, Omar Suleiman, would take over. This was then confirmed by a second source.

So, the protesters win. At least the first part of the battle.

I’ll leave this post open for updates since this will likely be the big news of the day.

Update: The New York Times reports that the Army is playing a central role in this change of power:

CAIRO — The command of Egypt’s military stepped forward Thursday in an attempt to end a three-week-old uprising, declaring on state television it would take measures “to maintain the homeland and the achievements and the aspirations of the great people of Egypt” and meet the demands of the protesters. The development appeared to herald the end of President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule.

Several military leaders and officials in Mr. Mubarak’s government indicated that the president intended to step down on Thursday. Some reports said he aimed to pass authority to his hand-picked vice president, Omar Suleiman, but what role Mr. Suleiman would play in a military government, if any, remained uncertain.

In testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, C.I.A. Director Leon E. Panetta said that there was a “strong likelihood” that Mr. Mubarak would step down by the end of the day. State television said Mr. Mubarak will appear tonight with an announcement.

The character of the military’s intervention and the shape of a new Egyptian government remained uncertain. A flurry of reports on state media on Thursday indicated a degree of confusion — or competing claims — about what kind of shift was underway, raising the possibility that a competing forces did not necessarily see the power transfer the same way.

Ahead of the military’s formal announcement on state television, the military’s chief of staff, Sami Anan, made an appearance in Tahrir Square, where he pledged to safeguard the people’s demands and their security. Thousands of protesters roared in approval.

Gen. Hassan al-Roueini, military commander for the Cairo area, also appeared in Tahrir Square and told the demonstrators, “All your demands will be met today.” Some in the crowd held up their hands in V-for-victory signs, shouting “the people want the end of the regime” and “Allahu akbar,” or “God is great,” a victory cry used by secular and religious people alike.

The moves marked a decisive turn in an uprising that has brought hundreds of thousands into the street in the most sweeping revolt in the country’s history. So far, the military has stayed largely on the sidelines, but Thursday’s statement suggested it worried that the country was sliding into chaos. The military called the communiqué “the first statement of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces,” strongly suggestive that it had arranged to take power in Egypt.

So, basically what we’ve got is a military coup with the promise of a democratic transition in the future. Whether that’s how it turns out remains to be seen, of course, but it seems clear that this is turning out the best it could so far under the circumstances.

Update [Steven Taylor]: Those interested in live coverage from Egypt, the BBC World Service is currently reporting on the subject.  Live streaming here.

FILED UNDER: Middle East, World Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. ponce says:

    The BBC says the Egyptian military is going to take over.

    Animal Farm, anyone?




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  2. Neil Hudelson says:

    A military coup with promise of a Democratic tomorrow is, in my view, a lot better than the party staying in control, and Sulemein continuing or escalating Mubarak’s policies.




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  3. michael reynolds says:

    Whether this is going to a new strong man, or to a democracy, the military was the inevitable transitional element. Just because the military is stepping in does not in and of itself indicate where this goes next.




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  4. Dave Schuler says:

    The Egyptian military is not monolithic—it has factions of its own, some tied more closely to the regime than others. The early indications are that Omar Suleiman will replace Mubarak. Somehow I doubt that will satisfy anybody. Except possibly the Americans and the Israelis.




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  5. michael reynolds says:

    I’ll put a dollar on the military announcing a coalition transitional government that will include Suleiman, but also protester elements, and promises of democracy with international oversight.




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  6. Franklin says:

    Dave already answered my next question. Why would his hand-picked successor be any more acceptable?.




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  7. DC Loser says:

    Somehow I doubt that will satisfy anybody. Except possibly the Americans and the Israelis.

    And this is why I think it’s designed to please both. The Army coming in to forestall free elections where the Muslim Brotherhood has a chance of forming a government or to play a major role in a coalition government scares both Washington and Tel Aviv.




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  8. Muffler says:

    If I understand how tightly combined the Egyptian military is to the economy then would be pretty clear that after 17 days of protests and a frozen economy that the Military would pressure the transition now.




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  9. michael reynolds says:

    DC Loser:

    I certainly think that’s possible. But I have a more optimistic take. I think the military knows if it breaks its bond with the people it has nothing left and the MB will in the end take over.

    I think what they’re looking for is a Turkey solution: strong military guaranteeing civilian government.




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  10. Dave Schuler says:

    Michael:

    I think that a solution with the general contours of Turkey’s approach would be a best case scenario. However, I wonder whether you need an Ataturk to produce such a solution initially, whether such a solution can be forged without strict secularism (whether the secularism is preserved in the long run or not), and whether the Ikhwan Muslimeen would accept such a solution.

    My concern continues to be what it is been: that the Ikhwan is pushing ElBaradei because they see him as a Kerensky figure with themselves in the role of the Bolsheviks.




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  11. michael reynolds says:

    Dave:

    I think too much can be made of the new communications and networking technology, but I think we can underestimate it, too.

    It is hard as hell to mount a successful conspiracy nowadays. Conspiracy — the MB playing puppet master, let’s say — has a very hard time holding on to secret data. Almost everything ends up playing out in the open.

    Using your Kerensky example, how would it have gone if everyone had already read Stalin’s mail, and learned Lenin’s entire history, and been privy to Trotsky’s Tweets? I’m not saying the tech makes a coup impossible, but it makes any kind of “hidden hand” a hell of a lot harder to hide.

    Does that penetrate out into the towns and villages? No, and that’s a potentially huge weakness of the protesters. But it permeates the intelligentsia and the urban elites who so far seem to be the prime movers of the protests.

    The military presumably wants what militaries always want: stability, respect and money, not necessarily in that order. If the protesters stand fim, and the military knows it can’t ram some phony resolution down the people’s throats, will they fire on the protesters? It was always going to come down to that question. My guess is that the military has taken a look at things and realized they’re better off with US money than without it, and better off with the MB inside the tent pissing out (to use LBJ’s lovely metaphor) rather than outside pissing in.




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  12. Dave Schuler says:

    Using your Kerensky example, how would it have gone if everyone had already read Stalin’s mail, and learned Lenin’s entire history, and been privy to Trotsky’s Tweets? I’m not saying the tech makes a coup impossible, but it makes any kind of “hidden hand” a hell of a lot harder to hide.

    I think not much. Trotsky was lecturing in New York when the February Revolution broke out and laid out the course of action of the Bolsheviks for the next couple of years in some detail in an interview with the New York Times.




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  13. Michael Reynold says:

    Uh oh.




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  14. michael reynolds says:

    Zels:

    Yeah, and that’s what matters to you. Not that a bunch of people may die from this.




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