Can Mubarak survive the revolt?

A policeman uses a baton against demonstrators fleeing in a cloud of tear gas in Alexandria. Photo: 28 January 2011 The much hated police have now been replaced by the army in Alexandria

The protests in Alexandria - like those in Cairo - have been completely peaceful on Saturday and Sunday after the brutality of last Friday, when the police shot down and killed around 30 demonstrators in the city.

Two of them were buried on Sunday, and many thousands of people turned out for their funeral service.

Some things are different in Alexandria - it still is a moderate city. But there is a noticeably stronger religious element here than there is in Cairo.

In other ways, though, things are very much the same: the anger against President Hosni Mubarak has the same intensity.

And Mr Mubarak's tactics are the same as well: the army has now been given the task of dealing with the demonstrators, rather than the much more hated police who did the job until Friday's shootings.

The army's tactics seem to be to let the demonstrations peter out rather than to stop them with force.

So far here - as in Cairo and elsewhere - this system has worked, but the dangers are always present.

President Hosni Mubarak. Photo: 30 January 2011 President Mubarak seems determined not to cut and run as Tunisia's leader did
'The best' scenario

It seems clear that the Americans have warned President Mubarak urgently that there must be no more killings.

Can he survive with such vocal opposition in the streets?

He seems determined not to cut and run as President Ben Ali of Tunisia did, and the Americans can't want that either. The power vacuum it would create would be very dangerous indeed.

From the American point of view, the best thing that could happen would be a peaceful end to the protests, the retirement of Mr Mubarak and the continuation of some part (at least) of the system which he has created - shorn, hopefully, of its corruption.

It won't be easy and it won't appeal greatly to the demonstrators, who have condemned Mr Mubarak's entire political structure and want to bring it down.

Perhaps, though, stripping out his closest and older associates might just do the job.

So much of it depends on the demonstrators themselves: if they hold out - an easy transition to one of Mr Mubarak's associates will be much harder.

If, though, the shortages in the shops, the looting that has been going on and the general desire to get back to ordinary life bring a gradual end to the protest, then the system - if not the president himself - might survive in power.

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