Hosni Mubarak’s non-resignation obviously caught the Obama administration by surprise—Obama after all, had hours earlier spoken glowingly of watching “history unfold” in Egypt, and CIA chief Leon Panetta had said there was a “strong likelihood” Mubarak would step down. But Egyptian officials say they gave the administration what it had been asking for, the Wall Street Journal reports; Mubarak had delegated power to Omar Suleiman, and stepped into an almost figurehead role.
But the speeches Mubarak and Suleiman gave did nothing to appease the crowd, and may have disqualified Suleiman as a viable transition figure. After a lengthy huddle with his security team, Obama emerged with a statement calling on Mubarak to explain “in clear and unambiguous language” what transition of power had occurred. But that’s likely not enough to appease protesters. “This is really bad,” one senior US official said. “We need to push harder—if not, the protests will get violent.” (Read more Hosni Mubarak stories.)