The historic standoff between the government of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and the protesters demanding his ouster has "wobbled to a standstill," says Craig Whitlock in The Washington Post, and the future looks like "a prolonged test of wills." Life in Cairo regained some normalcy Monday, with traffic clogging and banks and shops reopening, but tens of thousand of protesters are still entrenched in central Tahrir Square. After two weeks of massive upheaval, what can end this stalemate? (See a report on the latest street clashes)
1. Mubarak resigns
"Egypt took a deep breath" Monday, but neither the protesters nor Mubarak liked what they saw, says Abu Dhabi's The National in an editorial. And "the costs to Egypt's future will mount the longer a stalemate persists." Luckily, there is "one man who can break it: Mr. Mubarak himself." His resignation is the one demand that unites the many factions in the protests, and his making way for an interim government would give Egypt "the best chance to get back on its feet."
2. Civil servants and pensioners accept a pay raise in lieu of revolution
One of the concessions the Mubarak government offered is a 15 percent raise in public-sector salaries and pensions. The new finance minister insists the pay hike is "not a bribe," but it affects about 6 million people, and its likely goal is to "appease" protesters, say Chris McGreal and Mark Tran in The Guardian. It might work, too, if in fact "the great bulk of the Egyptian population is apolitical and only wants a job that can put food on the table," says Mark Thompson in Time.
3. The government strikes a deal with the Muslim Brotherhood
The controversial Muslim Brotherhood wasn't active at the uprising's start, but "its role has been increasing ever since," says Andrew Lee Butters in Time. Though it's still a minority player, the Brotherhood is the protest's best-organized faction and, having endured years of crackdowns, one of the bravest in Tahrir Square. The government's offer to let the Brotherhood participate in talks with the Mubarak regime was a "political breakthrough," and unlike other opposition parties, the Brotherhood didn't soften its calls for Mubarak to step down after the meetings. It's poised to be Egypt's key power broker, says Ernesto Londono in The Washington Post.
4. The protesters run out of steam
The protesters must "battle to stay relevant," says Luis Ramirez in VOA News. After two long weeks, the government's promised concessions and Egyptians' "need to return to a more normal economic life might make this iteration of pro-democracy protests fizzle," says Bill Egnor in Firedoglake. "Maybe that is not all bad," since Egypt probably isn't ready for full democracy yet. But good or bad, if the protesters can't reverse the momentum, "in a few weeks this uprising will be history."
5. The protest movement implodes in infighting
The real threat to the protest movement is that, without an enemy to fight, "dissent and subversion" or "jitters, even paranoia" are creeping in, says Graeme Wood in The Atlantic. The protesters still in "the Republic of Tahrir" have "so far gotten along swimmingly because their hatred of Mubarak has united them," but the secular/religious and Christian/Muslim splits are starting to show. "There would be a poetic injustice in seeing the movement fray because it failed — just as Egypt as a whole has failed — to contain and manage dissenters and spies."
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