Yesterday Mubarak promised to not run in the September elections, thus creating the chance for an orderly transition to democracy, with time for election campaigning and such things that are necessary. Unfortunately ElBaradei went out in public and rejected that offer. It was a mistake of huge proportions.
The alternatives for Egypt are (1) continued dictatorship under Mubarak, (2) a new dictatorship probably of the Islam extremist kind, and (3) democracy. It seems the military are in favor of alternative 3. However, they realize that if the dice are thrown up in the air now, they may well land on alternative 2 instead. Every statesman in the world realizes that. Does ElBaradei know something outsiders don’t, or did he commit a big political blunder?
Because of ElBaradei, at least to a significant extent, people stayed on the streets. Today the thug crackdown on the demonstrators started. It is the same method used by Chávez to great effect; send in civilian-dressed security personnel to use violence against the demonstrators anonymously. We must assume that they are police in civilian clothes. When Chávez did that in April 2002 he forgot to tell all the uniformed personnel, so some of them ended up shooting and killing some of the thugs, for which they are now serving 30 years in jail (they are thus the first political prisoners of Venezuela of the present dictatorship).
The military in Egypt surely know this. If they defend the civilians and leave Mubarak in power, they go to jail. They would thus have to depose Mubarak in order to defend the civilians. But if they do that, they also know, from Honduras 2009, that they will be called “golpistas” and not recognized by the global community. It was a dragon-seed for the UNGA to label the deposing of Zelaya a coup d’État, as I wrote in February 2010 and again in May 2010.
The US and the EU should immediately lift the phone, call the military in Egypt and tell them, “we promise to recognize the interim government, as long as it is civilian and free elections are held before the end of the year, even if Mubarak is removed by the military, provided that you stop the bloodbath in Cairo.” The precedent from Honduras has to be undone before it causes more damage.