Gamal, however, had overestimated the sea change. On Feb. 2, Aboul Gheit was ensconced in his office in the Foreign Ministry when he looked out the window to see a crowd, interspersed with horses and camels, moving toward Tahrir Square. His phone rang: "They are going to burn the country." shouted a relative. "The unity of Egypt will be gone!"
It was the beginning of the Battle of the Camel - a failed attempt by regime loyalists to clear the square by any means necessary. The cavalry charge with horses and camels, as well as attacks with stones and Molotov cocktails, left 11 Egyptians dead and more than 600 injured.
But the attack also marked the beginning of the end for the Mubarak regime. Aboul Gheit frantically called Suleiman to discuss the bloodshed in Tahrir: The two officials agreed that the president now had no choice but to step down. Suleiman, however, said that he could not say this publicly -- he would be accused of forcing Mubarak out in order to ascend to the presidency himself.
From this point, the fractures within Egyptian regime widened quickly. Aboul Gheit recounted a conversation with Suleiman, in which the intelligence chief said "there was a real plan" to make Gamal as president, but that "the national security apparatus will not agree on this" and that he would not work for Gamal. "They want to get rid of me, and they exerted a lot of effort in this respect," Suleiman added. Aboul Gheit added that he believed Suleiman was referring to Mubarak's wife, Suzanne.
This conversation may also contain a hint for understanding why Suleiman was shunted aside by the military establishment after Mubarak's fall. The intelligence chief suggested that there was a disagreement between him and Tantawi over Gamal, saying that in the event Mubarak's son became president, "it is only Tantawi who will work with him." In any event, Suleiman's bombastic statements blaming foreigners for the uprising and claiming that Egypt was not ready for democracy had made him extremely unpopular among the protesters - and a liability to any transitional government.
By Feb. 9, Mubarak's position was clearly untenable. At this point, Badrawi -- after receiving Suleiman's blessing -- was granted a one-on-one meeting with Mubarak. "Mr. President, I see in front of me an image of [Nicolae] Ceaucescu," Badrawi said, referring to the Romanian dictator, a former friend of Mubarak's, who had been executed by firing squad during the country's anti-Communist revolution.
"You mean they are going to kill me?" Mubarak asked.
"Probably, yes." Badrawi responded.
"I am ready to die for my country," the president said.