Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's refusal to resign during a much-anticipated speech Thursday night is being seen by some observers as a direct snub at President Obama and his administration.
Hours before Mubarak's speech, Obama and the director of the CIA, Leon Panetta, made statements that appeared to suggest they had inside knowledge that Mubarak would resign.
Obama stopped short Thursday of calling for Mubarak to leave office immediately, but he urged the president to immediately begin the process of handing over power and said Egypt's people would determine its future. He also said ahead of the speech, "we are witnessing history unfolding" and called it a "moment of transformation."
Panetta said there was a "strong likelihood" that Mubarak would step down.
"The Obama administration has been putting pressure on Mubarak since last week to stand down straight away, but Mubarak, in what appeared to be a direct snub to the U.S. president, said he would not bow to international pressure," reports the Guardian.
"Mubarak's response offers further evidence of the U.S.' slow decline from its status as the world's sole superpower to a position where it is unable to decisively influence events in Egypt, in spite of that country being one of the biggest recipients of U.S. military aid."
After Mubarak's speech, in which he refused to step down but agreed to delegate power to Vice President Omar Suleiman, protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square erupted in outrage.
It was one of the largest crowds to gather in the square since the protests began more than two weeks ago. They had come anticipating a moment of victory, but were greeted with great disappointment. The crowd chanted to Mubarak, "Get out! Get out!" and many protesters took off their shoes and held them in the air in a sign of great disrespect to Mubarak, GlobalPost Egypt correspondent Jon Jensen reports.
Obama then responded to the speech by questioning Mubarak's refusal to step down and suggesting such a move did not qualify as an immediate and sufficient transition.
"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," his 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."
Concerned over the prospect of violence breaking out, Nobel laureate and opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei sent a Twitter message to his followers, "Egypt will explode," and called on the army to interfere to protect the people.
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