Mubarak's grip on power in Egypt is shaken

Cairo, Feb.1 (ANI): With the Egyptian Army declaring that it would not use force against the public, authoritarian president Hosni Mubarak days in power appear to be numbered.

Compounding Mubarak's problems is a move by his most trusted adviser to offer to talk with the political opposition.

The two statements, along with the damage to Egypt's economy, seem to have weakened Mubarak's grip on power just two weeks after a group of young political organizers posted an appeal on a Facebook page, calling for a day of protest in emulation of the revolution that pushed out another Arab strongman in Tunisia, the New York Times reports.

With Hundreds of thousands coming out onto the streets over the last six days and the military aggressively asserting itself as an arbiter between two irreconcilable forces, Mubarak refusal to relinquish power is at best tenacious.

How far he bends in the negotiations remains to be seen, and given the potential ambiguities of both statements it is too soon to write off the survival of his government.

Omar Suleiman, Mubarak's right-hand man and newly named vice president, has revealed that he has been assigned by the president to contact all the political forces to start a dialogue about all the raised issues concerning constitutional and legislative reform.

The protesters in the streets took Suleiman's speech as essentially a capitulation to the army's refusal to use force against them.

"The army and the people want the collapse of the government," they chanted in celebration.

Various opposition groups have selected Mohamed El-Baradei, the Nobel Prize-winning former director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, to negotiate for them in anticipation of talks with Mubarak about forming a transitional unity government, an idea Mubarak's surrogate embraced Monday.

Ragui Assaad, an economist at the University of Minnesota, said the potential collapse of the economy was like a gun to Mubarak's head. (ANI)

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