Cover

“Egypt's day of reckoning,” headlines the Independent, on what should prove to be a critical weekend for Hosni Mubarak’s tottering regime. With millions of protestors poised to pour into the streets after Friday 28 January’s morning prayers, the London daily’s veteran Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk notes that “The Americans and the EU are telling the regime to listen to the people – but who are these people, who are their leaders? This is not an Islamic uprising – though it could become one – but, save for the usual talk of Muslim Brotherhood participation in the demonstrations, it is just one mass of Egyptians stifled by decades of failure and humiliation.”

Meanwhile, EUobserver reports that Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini has called on the EU to send a high-level "political support team" to Egypt to “calm tensions”, as well as in other North African countries hit by civil unrest. At a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday 31 January, Frattini will outline plans for a European mission that takes contact with “the highest levels […] with civil society, mayors, opposition parties, to collect information, not to give orders.” The minister feels that the highly volatile situation in Egypt cannot “be dealt with by sporadic initiatives of this or that country in Europe, but only by a European initiative." But by Monday, it may well be too late.