US Sees Writing on the Wall for Mubarak as Egyptians Begin Massive March
UPDATE: The New York Times reports that top diplomatic officials are saying President Obama has urged Mubarak to announce that he will not seek re-election in September.
UDATE 12:30pm EST: There's a virtual march at Facebook in solidarity with the protesters that's gaining momentum. And images of Tahrir square reveal it's filled to capacity, with perhaps more people unable to enter. The protests are certainly gaining, not losing momentum. Meanwhile key figureslike Senator John Kerry have declared that Mubarak's stepping down is necessary.
As millions of Egyptians take to the streets today in what looks like most massive day of protests yet, and are carefully watched by a fairly supportive army, they're acting as if their goals are all but accomplished. And they may be right.
A closed-door, high-level White House meeting yesterday left participants clear on one issue: the West sees the writing on the wall for Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak, and is planning already to help aid Egypt's transition to a functioning democracy.
The deciding factor? The Egyptian army has made it clear that they will not harm protesters, and have recognized the legitimacy of the people's demands, while Mubarak's new Prime Minister has offered to negotiate.
But negotiations from the opposition seem to be predicated on one thing: Mubarak's departure.
“There can be dialogue but it has to come after the demands of the people are met and the first of those is that President Mubarak leaves,” opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei told Al Arabiya television as reported by the Times. “I hope to see Egypt peaceful and that’s going to require as a first step the departure of President Mubarak. If President Mubarak leaves, then everything will progress correctly.”
Indeed, the White House and key allies, who stalled for so long to see where the balance of power would end up, are already thinking ahead to what happens after Mubarak's ouster, and how the country can be assisted in setting up fair elections and a reformed power structure.