As Talks Languish, Mubarak Strengthens

By Eric Young

Commerce has begun to return to an Egypt that was economically paralyzed for the past two weeks. Banks are open again; the stock exchange is scheduled to resume trading on Sunday.

While negotiations between the Egyptian government and its opponents drag on, the thousands of protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square watch as their numbers decline – and Hosni Mubarak slowly rises from the canvas.

The protesters thought they had given a knockout punch to Egypt’s strongman.

Mubarak’s supporters have have always had a leader to rally around; today they received some sustenance as well as the government announced a 15% increase in pay and pensions for public-sector, a rich payoff to those most dependent upon – and most likely to support – the embattled Egyptian president.

Mubarak’s opponents have never had a single voice, and now those less strident, less willing to sacrifice their lives, are being peeled away by the call of home and work.

A few more days like this and it will be Mubarak the Giant against a small, leaderless group of irreconcilables willing to die for their cause.

Without a negotiated settlement or intervention by the Egyptian army, they will.

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