Some striking footage from the protests in Egypt: the headquarters of the ruling National Democratic Party have been set ablaze. Hosni Mubarak is reportedly set to speak any moment now.
Update: See Allahpundit for late-breaking updates:
Things are happening fast so let’s get a thread up. A 6 p.m. curfew has been imposed and, thus far, widely ignored. Tanks are starting to roll as I write this and there are reports on Twitter of “loud explosions” and live ammo being used in downtown Cairo.The Telegraph has a screencap from Al Jazeera showing Mubarak’s party headquarters in the city on fire; other party headquarters have been ransacked in Mansoura and Suez. The State Department says it’s deeply concerned and is calling on Mubarak to enact reforms and allow peaceful protests — although I think we’re past that point by now. Mubarak was supposed to speak at around 11 a.m. but nothing from him yet.
As stirring as the sight of protests against an autocratic regime may be, Lee Smith writes that this may not end up well:
it does seem to be the case that the protests erupting throughout Egypt’s major cities are less about President Hosni Mubarak’s 29-year-long reign than they are about the succession of the man who seems to be his chosen heir, his 47-year-old son Gamal....
If Gamal goes, the likely successor will be intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, the man rumored to be the young Mubarak’s chief rival, or alternately, the future power behind Gamal’s throne. Gamal’s problem is that he has no military experience whatsoever, a liability for the prospective head of a regime whose coherence and internal legitimacy is based on nothing other than its symbiotic relationship with the military. Nonetheless, even if Gamal really were to leave for London and even if his father stepped down, or just decided not to run for president later this year, the Mubarak regime would not fall because in reality there is no Mubarak regime as such. Rather, it is a Free Officers regime, one that has lasted almost half a century, or dating back to the 1952 coup that deposed King Farouk. During that period, the regime has survived 3 wars with Israel and another in Yemen. And that’s not all: almost as bad as Gamal abd-el Nasser’s public humiliation after losing the six-day war in 1967 was the regional isolation imposed on Cairo after Anwar Sadat’s peace treaty with Jerusalem. But the regime survived both, as well as Sadat’s assassination and a subsequent civil war throughout the 1980s and 1990s with armed Islamists, many of whom went on to form the leadership of al Qaeda. A regime that has been tested under that kind of fire is unlikely to fold in the face of 50,000 protesters throwing rocks.