2 pm: I could be wrong, but when you name your hard-line chief of intelligence as your “vice president,” as Mubarak just did, it’s probably not a sign that you’re looking to make any deals. Omar Suleiman ain’t no softie. ABC News mined the Wikileaks cables for some dirt on Suleiman, and here’s one quote. The cable says:
[Suleiman’s] overarching regional goal was combating radicalism, especially in Gaza, Iran, and Sudan…. Radicalism in Gaza posed a particularly serious threat to Egyptian national security. Suleiman said Egypt must “confront” Iranian attempts to smuggle arms to Gaza and stop arms smuggling through Egyptian territory. “Egypt is circled by radicalism,” he continued.
10:40 am: The Times reports that military, in some places at least, is supporting the protests:
Egypt was engulfed in a fifth day of protests on Saturday, but an attempt by President Hosni Mubarak to salvage his 30-year rule by firing his cabinet and calling out the army appeared to backfire as troops and demonstrators fraternized and called for the president himself to resign.
10:30 am: My favorite passage from today’s New York Times:
By nightfall, the protesters had burned down the ruling party’s headquarters in Cairo, and looters marched away with computers, briefcases and other equipment emblazoned with the party’s logo. Other groups assaulted the Interior Ministry and the state television headquarters, until after dark when the military occupied both buildings and regained control. At one point, the American Embassy came under attack.
10:20 am: The king of the world’s largest kleptocracy, namely, Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, is not only sick—he recently visited the United States for medical treatment and then settled into Morocco, for more care—but scared to death. Yesterday, the octogenarian ruler’s regime in Riyadh issued a vituperative statement condemning the Egyptian protesters and giving Saudi Arabia’s backing to Mubarak. The king called Mubarak to “reassure” him, which means that he’ll open his near-infinite checkbook to keep Mubarak solvent. Abdullah blamed “infiltrators” for the uprising, and said that protesters were “exploited to spew out their hatred in destruction…inciting a malicious sedition,” adding that outside agitators “infiltrated into the brotherly people of Egypt, to destabilize its security.… No Arab or Muslim can tolerate any meddling in the security and stability of Arab and Muslim Egypt by those who infiltrated the people in the name of freedom of expression, exploiting it to inject their destructive hatred.” A vicious, incoherent statement from the man most threatened by the ongoing Arab revolt in Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan and Yemen.