“Free Egypt” regimes planned alongside March of Millions
Certain opposition groups, backed by retired army and security forces officers are planning to take over a key delta city, proclaim it liberated territory and establish there a "Free Egypt" government, debkafile's Middle East sources report Tuesday, Feb. 1. The masses flooding central Cairo for the March of Millions are marching on the presidential palace in their biggest protest demonstration in eight days. President Hosni Mubarak is working there at present.
Opposition leaders have come to the same conclusion as most Western and Middle East observers that Mubarak; whose effigy hangs high from a noose over Tahrir Square, has no intention of leaving in the foreseeable future and all his maneuvers are a play for time.
Until now, Mubarak was perceived as working toward an orderly transition by handing over to army chiefs, letting them hold negotiations on a transitional regime with the various factions and set election dates for parliament and the presidency. And indeed, Monday night, Vice President Gen. Omar Suleiman went on state television to announce he had been directed by the president to start a dialogue on constitutional changes with the various factions.
But like Mubarak's other moves, this action further stoked popular rage against him. It brought out more and more supporters for the March of Millions staged Tuesday in at least 15 Egyptian citieswhich teem with many millions of inhabitants.
Opposition leaders, including the Muslim Brethren, decided to shun the proposed dialogue out of two considerations:
1. The street does not trust Gen. Suleiman. He is seen as part of Mubarak's ruling circle and hated as the enemy of Egyptian democracy. Indeed the rigging of parliamentary vote which only two months ago reduced opposition representation to nil is laid at his door.
2. Some of the factions are already in the process of separate dialogue with army chiefs outside the military and government mechanisms still loyal to Mubarak.
debkafile's military and intelligence sources disclose that the generals are informing the president about this separate track but have not asked him to approve its outcome.
This outcome is already falling into two sections which he is hardly likely to approve.
The army and protesters agreed on a mutual non-violence pact, providing for neither to attack the other. Since Mubarak is standing his ground, the Egyptian crisis continues to be ruled by a standoff between the president, the army and the masses.
To break out of this impasse, certain opposition leaders plan to use the momentum of the Tuesday march to seize control of a central Egyptian city and proclaim it the capital of Free Egypt. They will call on other factions to recognizes their administration and establish more Free Egypt regimes in other cities. For now, Mubarak's foes are looking for suitable candidates to fill posts in the administrations they hope to establish.