Protesters in Egypt have given today's demonstrations a name they hope will turn out to be accurate: the Day of Departure. As in, hey, Hosni Mubarak, time's up, let's go, vamoose. We're all tired of this uprising business, so just get on with it and leave already.
After Friday prayers today the biggest crowds since Tuesday reportedly flooded Tahrir Square, the focal point of the unrest to date, where the military was at least providing some measure of security by setting up checkpoints on the way in. So far, no signs of pro-Mubarak thugs, on camelback or otherwise. The protesters may decide to march on the presidential palace later; they're going to play it by ear.
But will Mubarak actually step down? Yesterday he told Christiane Amanpour that he'd love to, but he believed Egypt would slide into chaos. According to the Times, the White House is trying to broker a solution, and describes "one of several options" under consideration:
The Obama administration is discussing with Egyptian officials a proposal for President Hosni Mubarak to resign immediately and turn over power to a transitional government headed by Vice President Omar Suleiman with the support of the Egyptian military, administration officials and Arab diplomats said Thursday....
The proposal also calls for the transitional government to invite members from a broad range of opposition groups, including the banned Muslim Brotherhood, to begin work to open up the country’s electoral system in an effort to bring about free and fair elections in September, the officials said.
All right, sounds like a good plan. How are these discussions going?
Even as the Obama administration is coalescing around a Mubarak-must-go-now posture in private conversations with Egyptian officials, Mr. Mubarak himself remains determined to stay until the election in September, American and Egyptian officials said. His backers forcibly pushed back on Thursday against what they viewed as American interference in Egypt’s internal affairs.
“What they’re asking cannot be done,” one senior Egyptian official said, citing clauses in the Egyptian Constitution that bar the vice president from assuming power. Under the Constitution, the speaker of Parliament would succeed the president. “That’s my technical answer,” the official added. “My political answer is they should mind their own business.”
Oh. Here's the thing, though. If America managed to help convince Mubarak to step down, it would really help our crummy image on the Arab street. So, we're probably going to continue to meddle.