If there is a hole, somebody always feels like they have to fill it. Usually for their own benefit.
I had a bad feeling that this was going to happen when the protests dragged on and no unifying voice(s) or idea(s) beyond "Mubarek Must Go" was being heard. It grew worse when I heard Mahmoud (Sand Monkey) give an interview with Parker Spitzer on CNN. Spitzer asked several times about leadership that Mahmoud pushed aside or simply insisted that the lack of leadership and the spontaneity of the event was its own power. No leaders need apply. That sentiment was echoed over and over again posters on Twitter, Sand Monkey's account and even over at Jan 25.
As we are finding out and even Vaclav Havel pointed out,
If the uprisings in Eastern Europe had taken a month instead of just a week, he said, the results might have been different — and far worse.
"Time is a crucial element," he said. "The longer it takes the bigger the danger of a far worse dictatorship than Mubarak's."
The MB, very strategically, refused to take a lead role in the protests, letting it remain a demand from the broader street. However, as the days waned, they obviously decided that the momentum was shifting and they had better get their foot in the door while they can. The Egyptian Government, led still by Mubarek, are excellent games men. They have already figured out how to dissect and eliminate the protesters' power.
Divide and conquer is first and foremost. They must figure that the MB, as a long standing organization with their own agenda, would be willing to compromise in order to obtain some of their objectives. Obviously, the MB would hope to consolidate those gains once they are given the nod of legitimacy. A legitimacy they instantly gained the moment Mubarek et al opened direct negotiations.
Second, by establishing the MB as the "opponent", they would hope to make themselves the party of the lesser evil. Thus, the citizenry will have two major parties to elect from. The party that wants to oppress them through establishing draconian religious law and the party that just wants to repress them by secular means.
Makes the Democrat and Republican party almost appear angelic in comparison.
The Muslim Brotherhood, however, issued a statement indicating they would not be appeased until Mubarek is gone. Giving lip service to the general uprising's demands, keeping them "unified" and in the streets at least until the MB gets what it wants. If they succeed, then they can claim the great historical and political power of having been the instrument of ousting Mubarek. Imagine that playing to the greater Egyptian polity for the next two decades of "elections". Democracy yes, freedom...eh, not so much.
All the while, the liberal reformers are languishing in the square and on the internet, years behind the MB's organization ability and political skills. It is almost too painful to watch. The power of the protests had a "use by" date. The liberals in the group appear to have been drunk on the success of their impromptu protest and the sheer hope of making a change to realize it. Until now.
As Michael Ledeen always says: Faster, please! Except, of course, today. Support our SOB, screw democracy?
There is only one problem with that, it has become apparent that Mubarek is going to go sometime in the near future. Today, tomorrow, six months from now. He's going. Who are we going to support after that? Is there anyone in the NDP who has the power to hold it together? Someone suggested that we should put pressure on such "next leader" to begin democratic liberal reforms. The problem will be, they aren't Mubarek, they don't have the power and any sign of give would be cause for the same thing we are seeing today. Maybe worse.
What Mubarek could have done towards organizing an eventual change to liberal democracy, he didn't and now that time is past. New ideas, please. The old ones are growing quite raunchy.
I do agree with one commenter over at Ledeen's: these autocrats aren't going to be able to hold on forever. We need real contingency plans to act on instead of, as Consul at Arms says, "hope" and "expectations".
Can we please, please, identify some liberal democrats and get them some support?