As of this morning, I don’t think the Mubarak regime lasts out the week.
The protests continue, with major demonstrations apparently scheduled for Tuesday. The army does not seem inclined to act violently against its own people. The police and security apparatus, while still loyal to Mubarak, behaves as if it anticipates a change at the top and is not willing to stick its own neck out too far on his behalf. And perhaps most importantly, the spell that fear once cast over the Egyptian people has been broken.
All of that could be wrong, of course. It is possible, if not likely, that the whole uprising could be broken in a matter of hours by a brutal crackdown. But we’ve reached a point when such a reaction, if it was coming, would have come by now. It hasn’t, and you have to suspect the Egyptian people recognize that fact as well.
If you read between the lines, you see evidence that the Obama administration may have reached a similar conclusion. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is now publicly counseling “an orderly transition” in Egypt, which is a diplomatic way of suggesting Mubarak’s departure.
But transition to what? Nobody knows the answer to that one. Even if free and open elections are held, it’s impossible to predict what the outcome would be.
The ramifications of Mubarak’s ouster would be enormous. What happened in Tunisia had great symbolic power, but what happens in Egypt has consequence. Other Arab regimes have to be terrified, particularly if the transition comes peacefully and an actual working democracy emerges. Tellingly, the Chinese government has banned Internet searches of “Egypt,” a sign that it too feels threatened by people power on the other half of the globe.
Israel also has cause to fear. According to the newspaper Haaretz, government leaders “called on the United States and a number of European countries over the weekend to curb their criticism of President Hosni Mubarak to preserve stability in the region.” And while the Israeli press is covering the turmoil, columnists and pundits have gone largely quiet on the issue. As a headline in the Jerusalem Post put it, “Silence is golden: We should be saying as little as possible in this country about the events in the region.”
In Jerusalem, a visiting Mike Huckabee — who has now made more than a dozen trips to Israel – warns that the situation in Egypt “could threaten the world and all those who seek peace and security. The real threat to Israelis is not the bomb but the people behind it, not weapons but the madmen behind them.”
Huckabee also embraced continued construction of Jewish settlements in Palestine. “I don’t see why bedrooms for their children built by Jews on a hilltop in Samaria pose a threat to world peace,” Huckabee said. “It’s the lack of construction that is irrational, not the opposite.” (Mitt Romney had visited Israel earlier this month — is Israel the new Iowa for GOP presidential contenders?)
But Caroline Glick, also in the Jerusalem Post, does venture to point out that if the Mubarak regime falls, “all of its possible secular and Islamist successors either reject outright Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel or will owe their political power to the support of those who reject the peace with the Jewish state. So whether the Egyptian regime falls next week or next year or five years from now, the peace treaty is doomed.”
And that, of course, is why silence is so golden. The more openly Israel roots for Mubarak’s political survival, the less likely it becomes. – Jay Bookman