Watching President Hosni Mubarak’s speech on Egyptian state television in which he dissolved his government – but intimated he himself would not resign – I was astounded by his elegant outward calm and delusional view that the massive street protests had nothing whatsoever to do with him. He even had the audacity to claim that the demonstrations were enabled by the “freedoms” he has permitted in the country.
Mubarak, cool as a cucumber while his country crumbles, even said that he sympathizes with the plight of the poor and jobless in Egypt. Unlike the former president of Tunisia Ben Ali (or the former Shah of Iran thirty years ago), Mubarak refuses to flee into exile.
This suggests to me that he doesn’t fear for his safety and that he has the support of his military or secret police (who have historically inflicted extreme violence on Egyptian dissidents).
In a way, Mubarak reminds me of Don Vito Corleone, the fictional Godfather of movie lore.
Like Corleone, Mubarak exudes an air of imperious placidity and cooperation (while commanding a fearsome army of killers and enforcers behind him). Also, like the godfather, he seems committed to having his son Gamal succeed him when he dies.
Mubarak’s claim of aligning himself with Egypt’s poor is particularly interesting – didn’t Michael Corleone(the next don) himself state that one should keep ones friends close, but his enemies closer?