According to Badrawi, Mubarak soon opted for a better course: He agreed to delegate power to Suleiman and pave the way for early presidential elections. This path out of the crisis, however, was quickly undermined by Gamal and other loyalists in the president's inner circle.
Even as the regime crumbled, Gamal embarked on a last-ditch attempt to preserve his father's rule. On Feb. 10, Mubarak announced that he would give another speech, in which he was widely expected to announce his resignation.
"It was late ... it was late," Aboul Gheit wrote. "And then the statement came, but it did not have anything good in it. And I understood then that the son of the president was trying to shape the statement so that it pleased everyone."
Egyptian protesters, shocked that Mubarak was attempting to cling to power, took to the streets in huge numbers on Feb. 11, dubbed the "Friday of Departure." Aboul Gheit said that he spent the morning working the phones between Suleiman and Shafiq, trying to negotiate Mubarak's exit. Suleiman told him that the president would retreat to his home at Sharm el-Sheikh -- where he had first learned of the protest movement -- that day, before noon prayers.
In an attempt to salvage the situation, Suleiman summoned Aboul Gheit to a meeting at Cairo's Ittahadeya Palace at 1 pm. The palace, however, was besieged by protesters -- the army warned that it could be stormed at any moment, and the officials had to relocate to a nearby military base. "And finally I came to the logical conclusion: The world has changed," wrote Aboul Gheit.
A three-way conversation between Mubarak, Suleiman, and Tantawi laid bare the disagreements between the formerly tightly knit officials at the top of the Egyptian government. Suleiman first received a call from Mubarak, who had by then relocated to Sharm el-Sheikh, in which the president ordered him to tell Tantawi that he had been granted the power to oversee the administration of the country. When informed of the order, however, the defense minister balked: "I understood from the phone call that Tantawi doesn't want to put the army in office," Aboul Gheit wrote.
Suleiman then told Mubarak that he needed to appeal directly to Tantawi. In the end, he and Shafiq headed in person to the Defense Ministry to inform the military chief of his new role. His job done, Suleiman delivered the announcement that charted the first, tentative steps of Egypt's post-Mubarak future.
"In the name of God the merciful, the compassionate, citizens, during these very difficult circumstances Egypt is going through, President Hosni Mubarak has decided to step down," the once all-powerful intelligence chief declared. "May God help everybody."