Zakaria: Mubarak 'baiting' protesters
February 10th, 2011
05:30 PM ET

Zakaria: Mubarak 'baiting' protesters

Egypt's Hosni Mubarak stubbornly clung to the presidency on Thursday, refusing in a highly anticipated speech to step down by saying he does not take orders from anyone outside Egypt. CNN's Fareed Zakaria says this move by Mubarak may be just trying to bait the protestors into more violence.

Watch more about what this might mean and read an edited transcript from Zakaria:

"One hopes that history does not mark this as the moment that this revolution turned. For two weeks the demonstrators have been peaceful, they have been entirely democratic and incredibly honorable. But they've been broken up, they have been beaten; the regime has tried to divide the opposition, it has tried to make phony concessions. The one thing the regime did not do is concede to the principal demand.

The danger here is that things will get radicalized. ... The opposition, the protesters, the crowds are going to get angrier and angrier. They're going to draw perhaps more violent people. That is, in a sense, what the regime is hoping for. In a strange sense, I think the Mubarak regime is trying to bait the crowd in Tahrir Square and is hoping for violence and is hoping for some kind of march on the presidential palace that seems to get violent. Then they can step in and in the guise of restoring order, return to the military rule, return to the martial law that they want to consolidate. That's the danger here.

This might be a turn that history will record as the moment things went awry."

After Vice President Omar Suleiman's speech, Zakaria said the move discredited Suleiman as any kind of transitional figure:

"Egypt is a very nationalist country with a very proud people. It has a 7,000-year-old history, as President Mubarak pointed out [in his speech]. But I don't think it's going to work. What you just witnessed is Omar Suleiman discrediting himself as any kind of transitional figure. Omar Suleiman, the vice president, could have been the man who ushered in a new Egypt. He wouldn't have lasted but he would have been the man who brokered it all. But he has decided to stick with his boss. ... Suleiman is a former general, former head of military intelligence and President Mubarak's consigliere. ... The regime is hoping that it can wait out these protestors. But I think the big mistake for the last two weeks that the regime has made is that it has kept assuming that these people are going to go home. And they don't go home - the crowds just keep getting bigger and bigger and stronger and stronger. Friday will be a very crucial day because my guess is that you'll see the largest protest you've ever seen in Egypt."

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