Even though Mubarak’s hold on power grew more tenuous, the last few days proved he has no intention of going down without a fight. His desperate attempts at survival are faced by the determination of the demonstrators. The dilemma is in the current deadlock. On one hand, the regime is tottering, but continues its efforts to contain the revolution. On the other hand, the demonstrators stand their ground. The military is so far neutral, and the international powers continue to adopt a cautious approach. As the denouement remains unwritten, a diagnosis of the current deadlock is imperative to comprehend the positions of all parties.
1.1. The Regime
Mubarak, in a frantic bid to cling to power, launched a counter revolution. He and those interested in preserving the old status quo took lots of resourceful steps to buy time until the revolutionary euphoria fades away.
First, offering scapegoats to appease public opinion and to avoid any blame directed at Mubarak, by alleging that corrupt businessmen and ruling party notables tarnished the image of the regime.
Second, arguing that the demands of the demonstrators are met by implementing cosmetic changes through the dismissal of the cabinet and the appointment of a vice president.
Third, claiming that there are constitutional time limitations that impede any instantaneous drastic changes. This comes along with a pledge to an orderly transition, but emphasizing that it will take time to be implemented according to the constitutional provisions.
Fourth, eliciting the desire for security and a longing for a return to normalcy by portraying the breakdown of law and order. Deliberately stoking chaos to create widespread anxiety and to drive a wedge between those who demand change and others who fear the unknown. As gangs mushroomed across the country, Mubarak presents himself as indispensable to a safer future. This is to taunt people with the choice between Mubarak’s stability, as opposed to a chaotic alternative.
Fifth, emphasizing that the situation adversely affects the economy, as reflected in the scarcity of food supply, the shortage of fuel, a reduction in tourism revenues, bank runs, capital flight, loss of foreign direct investment, downgrading of sovereign debt, a stock exchange collapse, and a devaluation of the currency.
Sixth, using the Islamist scarecrow by claiming that the Muslim Brotherhood is riding the revolutionary wave.
Seventh, plucking a sentimental chord with a recollection of Mubarak’s military legacy in defending the soil of Egypt besides his desire to die on it.
Eighth, arguing that a humiliating departure of Mubarak is not befitting any president of Egypt, and that an honorable and dignified discharge implies he continues till the end of his presidential term.
Ninth, unleashing violence through the intimidation of and the attacks on protestors by thugs.
Tenth, discrediting the demonstrators by claiming there are sinister groups that hover in the shadows and agitators with hidden agendas. This, in addition to blaming the protests on a plot by foreign elements.
Eleventh, stoking nationalist emotions against foreign interference by asserting that any change appears as a submission to international pressures.
Finally, seeking to divide the opposition by coopting political party leaders for a dialogue with the regime.
1.2. The Protestors
On the other hand, protestors, who represent the yearning for freedom, are determined to stand their ground. The tactics implemented by the regime have not succeeded in aborting their dream due to a plenty of factors.
First, Egyptians have no confidence in the regime. There is no credibility in Mubarak pledges, and his promises are derided as an empty gesture. Mubarak’s cosmetic changes are deemed a gambit to absorb discontent and a ploy to contain the revolutionary tide.
Second, there is a fear to lose the momentum of this historical chance for a democratic change. This is solidified by the feeling that their tenacity lead to few concessions. Thus, their continued determination will lead to other capitulations for which activists have clamored for years to no avail.
Third, fear of retaliation if Mubarak rides out the storm, especially as they read subtle threats in official statements.
Fourth, the demonstrators have no unified front to convey their legitimate demands, besides the fact that the opposition is fractured and weak. Accordingly, any dialogue with the regime will not be from the position of power unless they exert pressure through street protests.
Fifth, there is fury and frustration at the accusations, adding insult to injury, that the demonstrators are influenced by external forces.
Sixth, the crude application of force and state-sanctioned violence imply that the behavior of regime has not changed. The demonstrators observed a regime-orchestrated conspiracy: the police forces that disappeared in inconspicuous circumstances, thugs attacking protestors, the release of prison inmates, looting and vandalism by gangs, and the suspicious role of the secret police.
Seventh, unwillingness to pursue a dialogue that implies a recognition of the current regime. Finally, any dialogue is considered a drag of time that the regime might take advantage of.