Like much of the world, I sat riveted to my computer today, watching live news reports as millions of Egyptians poured into the streets, ecstatic at rumors Dictator Hosni Mubarak might resign in a nationally televised address.
He did not. Instead he told the Egyptian people he would stay as planned until September, and with utmost hypocrisy said he lamented the deaths of the past 18 days, deaths his thugs and secret police caused.
The Egyptian people didn’t buy it. When it became clear Mubarak would not step down, the massive crowd that had assembled in Cairo’s Tahrir Square went ballistic with anger. So did crowds across Egypt.
Those scenes brought to mind John F. Kennedy’s words: “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”
Al Jazeera has reported some live fire in the streets. Nobel Laureate and opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei says Egypt will explode unless the army takes over. I heard an Egyptian blogger interviewed live on US radio today say (paraphrasing), “Mubarak said he wants to die in Egypt. We will grant him that wish.”
People are enraged. They are spreading out throughout the cities. It seems the popular sentiment is for the military to oust Mubarak and take over.
The question on everyone’s mind is, of course: what will happen now? Will Egypt burn? Or will a peaceful revolution somehow prevail?
Mubarak and Suleiman are military men of course. So military action against them would require a rift in the armed forces. It seems one exists. The question is, will it be enough to force Mubarak’s ouster? If the people persist, as they most certainly will, is that even necessary?
Either way, the next 24 hours in Egyptian history are likely to be pivotal. I pray it will not become a bloodbath. I believe strongly the Egyptian people will prevail. A movement with such numbers and intensity will not quit until it wins freedom, one way or another. May that freedom spread throughout the region and everywhere tyrants rule.