I’ll tell you what, if I’m Hosni Mubarak, I’ve got my bags packed. “Just in case” more and more looks like you can just remove the “just.” And the “in case.”
The surge against the Mubarak regime continues to build steam in Egypt, and all the latest headlines point toward his eventual ouster. The one that really puts it over the edge, far as I’m concerned, is the bit from the Obama administration, which called for an “orderly transition” to a new government. They stressed that they weren’t calling for Mubarak’s ouster, but that’s a fig leaf at best. Obama sees the handwriting on the tank.
Then’s there the stance of the army in Egypt. Here, too, it’s not looking so hot for Hosni. The army has stated it won’t use force against the people and opined that their complaints are “legitimate.” That’s not just an air quote for the sake of it; that’s what the army said.
Now the protesters are trying to get a million people to march in Cairo tomorrow, and governments and businesses are scrambling to get their people out. The protests are only growing in size, incidentally.
So the only real question now is what the new government will look like, how will it address the grievances of the Egyptian people, how will it comport itself with its neighbors and the world at large. Also, will the protests continuing spreading, and topple other governments. Actually, that’s several questions. Several big questions.
While most businesses in Egypt have been shut down, the Suez Canal is still operating normally. Regardless, crude oil futures in Europe topped $100/barrel (subscription link) and $90/barrel in New York. Stocks in New York are modestly higher, but the market is reacting more to its own internals than the geopolitical externals. I still think the sell-off Friday had as much to do with a market that was poised for one as it did the events in Egypt, which is what I said on Friday’s News Hub.
All this is making Israel very nervous. As we’ve said, there’s no guarantee the events unfolding will lead to governments more friendly toward the west and Israel; it’s a good bet to go the other way, in fact, if for no other reason than that the social problems besetting citizens in Egypt and across the Mideast, high unemployment, rising food prices, aren’t easily fixed, no matter who’s running the show.
It’s always easier to find a scapegoat than solve problems, and the U.S. and Israel have been convenient ones in the Middle East for decades. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Egypt’s revolution could end up producing a regime like Iran’s, a radical, hard-line Islamic ruling party, after the fall of the Shah. Seeing as the Israelis have been very careful about what they’ve said during the past week, this speaks to the level of anxiety in Israel.
Still, it’s happening. Anybody want to take bets on whether Mubarak lasts the week?