Mubarak's out, who's in? (UPDATED)

For now, it looks like the military

U.S. intelligence indicates “a strong likelihood” that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is on his way out and may step down as early as Thursday night, CIA Director Leon Panetta told Congress.

Panetta said he didn’t know specifics, but said it seemed likely that Mubarak would turn over powers to his vice president, Omar Suleiman. Panetta made the comments in testimony before the House Intelligence Committee as Egyptian state TV said the embattled president would speak to the nation Thursday night from his palace in Cairo.

Committee Chairman Mike Rogers of Michigan asked Panetta about news reports that Mubarak was poised to relinquish power.

“I got the same information you did, that there is a strong likelihood that Mubarak will step down this evening, which will be significant in terms of where the hopefully orderly transition in Egypt will take place,” the CIA director said. Panetta did not say how the CIA reached that conclusion.

State TV said Mubarak will speak to the nation Thursday night from his palace in Cairo.

Egypt’s military announced on national television that it had stepped in to “safeguard the country” and assured protesters that Mubarak will meet their demands. That was the strongest indication yet that the longtime leader had lost power.

Panetta said the CIA was following the developments “very closely.”

He said if there is an orderly transition in Egypt that leads to free and fair elections, and includes elements of the opposition, “it could have a positive effect with regards to that area.”

On the other hand, he said, it would not be good news “if this turns in another direction.”

Ya think?

The other direction might be this one:

Some Americans fear that Egypt in 2011 could repeat Iran in 1979, when a small group of religious fanatics hijacked a revolution. They see another popular uprising overtaking a much-hated, U.S.-backed dictator. They know that the strongest opposition group is the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist movement that is unfriendly to the United States (In my years of interviewing Brotherhood leaders, I’ve almost never heard one say anything friendly about the U.S., which they regard with open and conspiratorial hostility.) And they worry that the dictator’s impending fall will invite another Islamist takeover, which could undermine U.S. interests in the Middle East for decades to come.

Ironically, nobody understands these fears better than the Muslim Brotherhood itself. The Egyptian Islamist organization knows that if it does anything that even remotely appears as though it is trying to take charge of the opposition, it will become the global face of Egypt’s popular revolt – subjecting both the revolt generally and the group specifically to the scrutiny of an international community that doesn’t want to see a Brotherhood-ruled Egypt. So for the moment, its leaders say that they will neither run a presidential candidate nor participate in any transitional government. Their coyness is likely to continue until a political transition is consolidated.

For those wanting to know more about The Muslim Brotherhood, you might start over at the Jerusalem Post (which is sure to get teeth a’gnashing simply by the reference):

Pundits have portrayed the Brotherhood as uncompromising zealots or beneficent providers of social services that long-deprived Egyptians desperately need.

But a translation released Tuesday of a 1995 book by the movement’s fifth official leader sheds light on just how Egypt’s Brotherhood views itself and its mission. Jihad is the Way is the last of a five-volume work, The Laws of Da’wa by Mustafa Mashhur, who headed the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt from 1996-2002.

The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday saw excerpts of the text, compiled by Palestinian Media Watch founder Itamar Marcus and analyst Nan Jacques Zilberdik.

They detail the Brotherhood’s objectives of advancing the global conquest of Islam and reestablishing the Islamic Caliphate, the public and private duties of jihad and the struggle Muslims must wage against Israel.

The full text, translated by PMW, will be posted Wednesday on the organization’s website, Palwatch.org.

“The Islamic ummah,” it says, referring to the supranational community of Muslims, “can regain its power and be liberated and assume its rightful position which was intended by Allah, as the most exalted nation among men, as the leaders of humanity.”

Elsewhere, it exhorts Muslims, “Know your status, and believe firmly that you are the masters of the world, even if your enemies desire your degradation.”

Stand by folks but relax.  We have the smartest administration evah in power here in the good ole U.S. of A. and so there’s no real cause for concern.

Sigh.

UPDATE: Mubarak’s in, Obama’s out.

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