Two San Diego-area college professors who study the Middle East expressed surprise Thursday that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak announced he would not step down immediately.
"He sounds like a desperate guy trying to re-establish his authority," said Babak Rahim of UC San Diego, who was born in Iran.
"(Mubarak) talked about successes of long ago, which would sound hollow to the protesters," Rahim said.
The Egyptian president has been clinging to his 30-year hold on power since demonstrations calling for the end to his regime began 17 days ago.
The scheduling of the speech and advance media reports raised expectations that he would resign. Instead, he said he would transfer more power to his recently appointed vice president, but remain as president.
Avi Spiegel, of the University of San Diego, said Mubarak changed a couple of words from a speech last week, but the defiant tone was the same.
The hand-over of power meant there would be a new government "in name only," Spiegel said.
He said the government and protesters are in "a classic stalemate. They're looking at each other to see who will flinch first."
Spiegel said he watched the speech with a handful of USD students who were also surprised at the outcome.
He said he has been heartened by the interest shown by his students, who are seeing among the protesters people just like them, using the same type of technology they use to spread information.
The military's actions during the turmoil, alternately appearing to back the government and the protesters, probably reflects tension within the powerful institution, which will probably have the biggest say in the eventual outcome, the professors said.
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