It seems there is as much confusion in Washington about its long-time ally as there is in Cairo. Vice President Joe Biden is saying President Mubarak is not a dictator and shouldn’t step down, the White House is threatening to cut aid and pressing for communications links to be re-opened.
It is Tunisia on a far grander scale, and much more at stake. Egypt under Mubarak and his assassinated predecessor Anwar Sadat, has been a key link between the U.S. and Israel.
Israeli sources said Mubarak had announced a new government would be installed Saturday.
Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians have ignored a nighttime curfew and police, backed by soldiers have been unable to stop them. At least 20 deaths were reported Friday. Hundreds were hurt. Arabic satellite channels reported that the headquarters of the ruling National Democratic Party were torched by protesters Friday.
Internet wizards around the world have set up ways to help use Twitter, Facebook, Google, and Wikileaks. Some have gone back to the basics: slow speed telephone dialups. Even faxes, which are being sent to schools in hopes they will be passed around among the masses.
Mubarak is reported to have tried to reach out to people through some of these electronic means to ask what they want. The answer is simple, they want his 30-year rule to end.
The concept that Third World people will accept dictatorships that would never survive in the West appears to be standing on very thin ice. And by and large, radical Islam does not seem to be a major factor.