President Hosni Mubarak's unofficial abdication has had disastrous consequences on the country. The brains of the regime have proven themselves grossly inadequate throughout this crisis, with the president and the regime always a step behind the quickly unfolding events.
The word is that Mubarak has departed Cairo and is already in Sharm el-Sheikh, leaving behind what looks to me like a completely unmanageable situation for the remnants of his regime.
The Egyptian military yesterday issued Communique Number One in the absence of its Commander-in-Chief Mubarak. That was widely interpreted, and rightly so, as a military takeover heralding the end of the president if not his regime. Several hours later Mubarak made a rambling speech that highlighted his achievements, announced his disappointment at the backstabbing by "some" of his people and delegated his presidential duties to his vice president. Not once did he say he was humbled by the popular sentiment and that he was bowing to the will of the people and leaving.
It's important to note that despite the delegation of presidential powers, according to article 82 of the Egyptian constitution these powers are solely the prerogative of the president and cannot be delegated to anyone:
The military is deeply confused if not split. Egypt now finds itself in the grave situation of a crucially-important country that lacks leadership. Obviously Mubarak did not possess the qualities of leadership, at least over the last few years of his reign and this popular uprising exposed this glaring deficiency.
The country is on the verge of massive civil disobedience.
I don't see a way out for Omar Suleiman who's been left holding a ticking time bomb. The government will capitulate. The regime has reached the end of the road. Unless Mubarak finally and officially steps down (what's to stop him returning from Sharm el-Sheikh).
Mubarak told ABC News he feared chaos would ensue if he resigned now.
He's right. There would be chaotic scenes of jubilation!
On a more serious note, I think it's noteworthy that Mubarak's interview with Christiane Amanpour was conducted off-camera. The on-camera interview was with Vice-President Omar Suleiman who is now effectively the head of the regime and whose visibility is intentionally being increased.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak finally made an appearance late into last night, fired his cabinet and announced continuing reform Egypt. Today, after 29 years in power he finally appointed a vice-president, setting the stage for a possible organized handover of power, keeping it all in the family. Director of General Intelligence Omar Suleiman is the first Egyptian to fill this post since the late Anwar Sadat appointed Mubarak as his vice-president in 1975.
We are now hearing reports from the BBC that the president's sons Gamal (heir apparent?) and Alaa have arrived in London, something Egyptian TV denied.
Interestingly, the Daily Telegraph today published a report claiming the US government backed activists seeking regime change. The secret American document is here.
But I think it would be shortsighted to claim what is happening in Egypt is a conspiracy hatched in Washington.
On the ground the Egyptian army has either been unable or unwilling to enforce the curfew with continuing protests, chaos and looting. My reading is that the army does not want to resort to lethal force as a means of crushing this uprising.
CNN's Ben Wedeman tweeted: "Almost all police stations ransacked, arsenals looted. Suddenly weapons in the streets wielded by thugs. Where is the army?"
There is obviously a serious breakdown in the function of the state. If it cannot defend the people from thugs, criminals and looters can it defend the president?
I wish I was a fly on the wall and be privy to the various secret phone calls from major world leaders to Cairo. I am certain there are frantic behind-the-scenes exchanges attempting to pacify the situation in Egypt while preserving its vital regional role.
But the longer that this goes on the more untenable Mubarak's position becomes... He is in a lonely, dark tunnel and the way I see it there is no light at the end, not even a twinkle.
A man on a long journey through a perpetual desert.
The opinions expressed in this blog are mine and mine alone. They do not represent the views of any of my employers, past, present or future.