Monday, January 31, 2011

Israel is flexing its diplomatic muscle in support of Mubarak

That figures.  Al-Jazeera and Haaretz are reporting that

Israel has called on the United States and Europe to curb their criticism of president Hosni Mubarak "in a bid to preserve stability in Egypt" and the wider Middle East, an Israeli newspaper reports. The Israeli daily Haaretz reported on Monday that the foreign ministry, in an urgent special cable, instructed its ambassadors to key countries, to "stress ... the importance of Egypt's stability".
Senior Israeli officials, however, said that on Saturday night the Foreign Ministry issued a directive to around a dozen key embassies in the United States, Canada, China, Russia and several European countries. The ambassadors were told to stress to their host countries the importance of Egypt's stability. In a special cable, they were told to get this word out as soon as possible.

Good.  This clarifies the picture, at least partially.

In the meantime, all the signs are that Mubarak is preparing for a "Tiananmen square solution", albeit at a much larger scale.  Something along the lines suggested by Lysander: letting the situation degenerate into complete chaos and then use force to "restore order".

The question is: can Mubarak still do that?  I honestly don't know.  Most Chinese did probably not support the Tiananmen square demonstrators or if they did, they probably did so in a rather lukewarm way.  The popular anger in Egypt appears to be very widespread and intense.  It's one thing to clear a square, and quite another to take back control over many big cities.  And what if some military units refuse to obey and switch sides?

Your opinion?