Time magazine editor and Middle East expert Fareed Zakaria says that regardless of how the turmoil in Egypt ultimately resolves itself, the nation’s powerful military will play a decisive role in whether current strongman Hosni Mubarak continues to reign.
Hours after a police curfew was supposed to take effect, thousands of protestors continued to take to the streets of Cairo, and reportedly attacked a police station. Although the police in Egypt are almost universally reviled by the citizenry for corruption and brutality, public approval of the Egyptian army remains strong.
When the military rolled into Cairo Friday and took over law enforcement from police, the mood on the streets became triumphant. Protestors greeted the tank crews with chants of “God is great, welcome, we are happy.”
Analysts say whether Mubarak can survive the turmoil depends on whether the nation’s massive, powerful military apparatus will continue to support him. Zakaria believes the military will not try to actually take command of the civil government, however.
“My guess is that they’ll play a role behind the scenes,” he told CNN Friday afternoon.
Zakaria said Mubarak killed the hopes of his people that Egypt could evolve into a democratic society beyond a dictatorship backed by the military.
Much speculation has arisen about the location of Mubarak’s family after today’s ongoing protests. Zakaria speculates that the family has already fled to London, which the government denies.
He expects Mubarak to remain in Cairo and attempt to broker a deal.
The key issue, says Zakaria: “Can he get in front of the change, or will he be dragged kicking and screaming?”
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