He points out that the powers Suleiman doesn't have relate precisely to the main demands of the democracy demonstrators. "So I think this is a temporary retreat from Hosni Mubarak. He's given something up that he can take back at any time."
Confusion seemed to reign overnight in Washington as well. CIA boss Leon Panetta said during the day yesterday he expected Mubarak to step down. After Mubarak's speech, which he condescendingly described as a "father's dialogue with his sons and daughters," President Barack Obama put out one of his most strongly worded statements on the situation in Egypt that amply reflected the lack of clarity in Mubarak's words.
"The Egyptian people have been told that there was a transition of authority, but it is not yet clear that this transition is immediate, meaningful, or sufficient," Obama's statement reads. "The Egyptian government must put forward a credible, concrete and unequivocal path toward genuine democracy, and they have not yet seized that opportunity."
On Thursday the military convened its Supreme Council for only the third time in Egypt's history and without Mubarak, who would ordinarily chair such meetings, present.
Following the meeting, the military released an ambiguous statement that Egypt's democracy protesters took to mean that the Army was willing to step in to remove Mubarak from power for the good of the nation and would then seek to guide the nation towards democracy and fair elections.
But late this morning in Cairo, the military released a statement – read this time by a civilian, not a man in uniform as yesterday's – that appeared to throw their clear support back to Mubarak. They said they would ensure that the promises of the president would be carried out and endorsed his formal handover of many of the powers of the presidency to Vice President Suleiman.