Mubarak Stays: But Transfers "Authority" to Vice President
Instead of stepping down, Hosni Mubarak defiantly remained in what should be interpreted as more an effort to save face in a relatively graceful exit rather than an attempt to simply retain power. The 82-year old authoritarian said he has transfered his "authority" to 74-year old Vice President Omar Suleiman. The writing is on the wall. Mubarak knows it. If he was trying to hold on to power, he would have tried to do so by rebuffing or transferring to a younger man.
That said, the Egyptians protesting in Tahrir Square in Cairo erupted with vocalized anger when it became apparent in Mubarak's address that he was not stepping down and leaving.
It is amusing to listen to Wolf Blitzer at the end of the CNN broadcast clip below, as he is outwardly befuddled why the crowd was 'cheering.' Blitzer remarked, "Uh, I - I don't know why these crowds would seem to be exuberant, because it would seem to be disappointing. Uh, Mubarak seemed to be saying, uh, he was staying in business, uh, at least for the time being. He spoke about the scheduled elections. But, Fred, you're there on the scene at Tahrir Square. What do these folks think he said?" We presume Fred straightened Wolf Blitzer out in short order.
But Wolf Blitzer's confusion is less dangerous than the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper's proffering of the notion that the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood is a "largely secular" group. One is left to suppose that the Brotherhoods' remarkable secularism is why the group's faith is prominently part of its name, and that the restoration of the caliphate has no religious basis whatsoever.
It is one thing to argue the Muslim Brotherhood's social programs in Egypt and elsewhere. It's quite another to make the leap to a secular label.
Parting random thought...
There are great dangers of a leaderless revolution. Some have been quick to dismiss any comparisons between today's revolutionary Egypt and revolutionary Iran of 1979. Both began as truly a popular groundswell of discontent. Iran's revolution, like Egypt's, was also initially leaderless. Until it wasn't.
Mubarak's sticking around in whatever capacity slows the race from anger to vacuum. It gives Egypt a better chance of emerging with a more thought-out representative governance than an immediate vacuum filled more with urgency than reason. The slower the transition, the better the chance of keeping the caliphate-seeking Muslim Brotherhood sidelined as an alternative is given chance to take shape.