Zakaria: What is Mubarak thinking?
January 28th, 2011
02:28 PM ET

Zakaria: What is Mubarak thinking?

The Egyptian military is probably the oldest, most well-functioning institution in Egypt. Egypt has had a long tradition of a very strong state. What we're seeing is quite incredible because this is the oldest society in the Arab world with a deep and sophisticated culture with an authentic middle class. It  is also the oldest state, with a very long tradition of administrative control and a very powerful military. Both sides are trying to test the other to see which will give.

Any scenario, post-Mubarak, is going to involve the military because the military, in a sense, holds the country together. They will have to support whatever processes are put in place. My guess is that they're going to want to play a role that is behind the scenes and not right in front.

But the key issue, right now, is what is Mubarak thinking? Because he had the opportunity a year ago to decide to peacefully begin a political evolution. He decided not to do that and he had given every indication that he was going to run for re-election at 82, and ailing. That sent a signal to the entire society that they were in for another decade, potentially, of this dictatorship backed by the military. And that killed the sense that Egypt was evolving. Because there had been reform, there had been opening, so there was a sort of rising expectation that Mubarak crushed.

The question is: Is it too late for him to go back and provide some scenario for political reform which will prevent some kind of revolution. He will have to decide whether he can get in front of this change or whether he will be dragged, kicking and screaming.

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Filed under: Egypt • Protest
soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. leeintulsa

    This doesn't seem the time for anyone from the middle east to be dissin the great satan. Freedom is what you want? Where have you been for the last 235 years?

    We wrote the book on Freedom, and quite frankly, it's high time you pulled your head out of your asses.

    Good luck with freedom, and maybe we won't have tn pay to defend or generally aid you anymore. Maybe you can even aid us – freedom is kinda sucking right now, but it'll come around, always does.

    Imagine that, a world where everyone said, oh well, s**t happened, maybe we should all just get along. We've been rolling in that department since 1865. Just wait, you'll LOVE it.

    January 29, 2011 at 1:09 am | Report abuse |
  2. Zakaria

    Kalimahhh... Oh num sheba.. You betray Sheba Dr. Jones... Ohh numsheba.. Molarum zulurum...

    January 29, 2011 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Cesar

    All this talk about Egypt and odd names like Zakaria make me want to watch "The 10 Commandments," with Yul Brenner and Charles Heston. Throw in a few grilled camel burgers and whala!

    January 30, 2011 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • xactomundo

      You need to drop some acid or something...

      January 31, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Duane Seigler

    January 30, 2011 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
  5. NuckinFuts

    Cesar: It's "viola" Not nit picking. Just saying for future reference.

    January 31, 2011 at 12:37 am | Report abuse |
  6. PeaceTalk

    The question asked was, "Is it too late for him to go back and provide some scenario for political reform which will prevent some kind of revolution?" Personally, it is definitely too late for Mubarak to provide any say in Egypt's future. If he shows his face in public now, he is likely to be killed. It is amazing how everyone is always so critical of the USA. USA is just like other governments in the world; they usually will only get involved if there is a benefit to themselves. This is usually the way human nature works. When we are the wealthy, we want to hold on to our wealth. This is the same for the USA as well as it is the same for Hosni Mubarak. The only difference is that the USA has a government composed of different branches in order for the people to speak up and prevent a dictatorship for decades on end. In the news it mentioned that the USA has gone through eight presidents while Egypt has only seen one individual. Yes in the ideal world DEMOCRACY is the ideal, but reality is that a government must make executive decisions for the whole and it is impossible for the government to make everyone happy at the same time. Although, the USA has funded Israel it has also provided foreign aid to many other countries including Egypt's billion dollars a year. We may preach democracy for Egypt and one of these days, Egypt as well as the USA will have a 100% democratic country. Until then we should be praying for the people who are unable to leave their homes because of fear and pray that the current situation improves quickly not only in Egypt but around the world. The innocent civilians that are caught up in these protests need our support for a better outcome.

    January 31, 2011 at 8:49 am | Report abuse |
  7. Abera M.

    Hi Zakaria,
    I admire your depth of analysis. Please go a little more south to Ethiopia, where ethnic apartheid is being practiced. We have the worst dictator on the planet. Mubarak's dictatorship fades in the eyes of Meles Zenawi, who is cruel and doesn't blink an eye before he orders the slaughter of more than 200 people when he lost the election in 2005, more than 100,000 and the entire opposition was arrested. The US says nothing as usual.
    What happens in Egypt will ultimately happen elsewhere where "US friendly distatorships" are allowed to stay in power supported by successive US governments. By the way, be it democratic or republican, the world sees no change in the approach used by the US government, it is always about US or Israeli interest, but not about the suffering of the masses in those opressed countries.
    At last, I think Mubarak may have got some advice from our dictator, "disturb the peaceful demonstration by using security thugs, and then stop demonstration "in the interest of safety and security". ALL DICTATORS WILL FALL.

    February 2, 2011 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
  8. Hala

    I watch in pain images on the screen. Is there any doubt that men on horses and camels are paid by the Egyptian government? These are not normal civilians. Yes, you can see carts pulled by horses in Cairo. But, you never see men riding horses in Cairo. These are government paid thugs.

    My father worked with the Egyptian military during Nasser's time. Following the 1967 defeat, my father saw peple packed in trucks before the president announced his intent to resign. The crowds were supposed to cry for him to stay. And, so they did and he stayed.

    History repeats itself. Moubarak is following in the foot steps of those leaders. Everything is rigged, even the images he displays to the world. It is quiet obvious he will not step down on his own accord (even if he gave the required "lip service". You only need to ask yourself "what kind of person would through molotov fire at his own people?" This is not Egyptians against Egyptians. This is govenrment paid (pro-Mubarak) against Egyptian civilians.

    God help us.

    February 2, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
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