Wednesday, February 2, 2011 Subscribe to Foreign Policy
Egypt demonstrators clash with pro–government supporters after rejecting Mubarak offer
Top new: In a rejection of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s offer to step down at the end of his current term, an estimated 10,000 demonstrators gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square to demand that he leave immediately. Violence erupted after they were met by thousands of pro–government protesters, some riding horses and camels and carrying whips, in the first major fighting between the two sides in more than a week of protests. The two sides threw rocks and each other with little apparent intervention from security forces.
The anti–government supporters chanted "We are not going to go," rejecting pleas from the Egyptian military and Mubarak himself to return to normal life. In a 10–minute televised address last night, the president said that he would step down at the end of his current term in September, but denied suggestions that he might flee the country in the manner of Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
"This is my country. This is where I lived, I fought and defended its land, sovereignty and interests, and I will die on its soil", he said. As he has throughout his long presidency, Mubarak framed his decision to stay as a choice between "chaos and stability."
Mubarak reportedly spoke with U.S. President Barack Obama for 30 minutes, shortly before his announcement. In a short address following Mubarak’s, Obama stressed that "an orderly transition must be meaningful, it must be peaceful, and it must begin now. "
Internet access, nearly completely blocked within Egypt since late last week, has reportedly begun to return.
Ripple effects: Amid widespread protests inspired by the events in Egypt and Tunisia, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh announced that he will not seek another term when his current one runs out in 2013. The move came a day after King Abdullah II of Jordan, also facing protests, dismissed his cabinet and appointed a new prime minister.