Sometimes history has a way of biting the backsides of those who would like to write it to conform to their hopes, ideals and especially their pride.
Today, apparently based on a calculus that his leaving would provoke chaos in Egypt, Hosni Mubarak probably, ironically, miscalculated, bringing about more chaos by staying than he would have by leaving. Whether the Army General who put out the story, apparently to the BBC, that "all the demands of the protesters would be met 'today'," was speaking for the president and the current regime that is attempting every trick it has in its quivver to hold on to power, or not, at approximately 10:45 a.m. EST, word was received by NPR in the U.S. that NBC had just announced Mubarak would leave the presidency today.
And then a approximately 11.00 p.m. in Egypt, after keeping the hordes in Tahrir Square waiting nearly the whole day, Mubarak defied "outside voices" (referring directly to the U.S.) that would never tell Egypt what to do, assigned some presidential powers to the Vice-president, announced some proposed changes to the constitution, and then, holding his "bomb" to the end for dramatic effect, resolutely told the world that he was staying until the elections in September. Defiant shoes were raised into the night air in Tahrir Square from the arms of the protesters, the ultimate statement of contempt and insult in the Middle East this time aimed directly at Mubarak.
Tomorrow, with open announcements that the protesters hope will generate some 20 million in the streets, moving out of Liberation Square and potentially attacking the parliament, the ministry of the Interior and the Presidential Palace, there is the potential of a tinder-box brewing. Should the mass of protesters become violent, and should the military, in seeking to preserve some semblance of order retailiate, and should bloodshed unsue, the gasoline will have been poured on the resulting spark and the potential for a very violent explosion is very high, according to all speculations by various pundits, whose intimate knowledge of the situation far outweighs that of this scribe.
One CBC analyst, Brian Stewart, currently of the Monk School of Global Affairs, at the University of Toronto, when asked why Mubarak may be so insistent on holding onto power, may have hit a mark not mentioned by many others: "He and the regime may worry that the depth of the corruption that has been covered for these last thirty years will finally be uncovered, leaving both the president and all other members of the regime vulnerable to pursuit by banks, lawyers and other enemies of the corruption."
With Mubarak family worth estimated at $70 billion, such an explanation may not be so far fetched.
The next twenty-four hours could prove pivotal in the history of Egypt, and of the whole Middle East.
With Israel starting to stockpile gasoline supplies, in the event that their sources dry up, the ripples of implications could easily morph into tidal waves, and very quickly.