Hosni Mubarak military council, leading to widespread celebrations in the streets of the country on Friday.
“The people have toppled the regime,” chanted protesters, whose 18 days of swelling protests forced the 30-year-long autocratic government to quit.At the presidential palace in Cairo, where demonstrators had gathered in the thousands, people flashed the V-for-victory sign and shouted, “Be happy, Egyptians, today is a feast” and “He stepped down.”
They handed out candy. Many prayed and declared: “God is great.” Crowds packed Tahrir (Liberation) Square, the scene of massive protests against Mubarak that began on January 25. The celebrations continued early Saturday, with throngs of people milling around in downtown Cairo.”Egypt is free. We are a great people and we did something great. This is the expected end for every dictator,” said one demonstrator.Others warned that Egypt still faces many challenges, including how to go about ensuring a peaceful transition to free elections and a full democracy. Some soldiers joined the crowd in the square to celebrate. Protesters lifted them onto their shoulders. Other troops stayed Some soldiers joined the crowd in the square to celebrate. Protesters lifted them onto their shoulders. Other troops stayed at their posts, watching the scene in awe. People posed with them for photo- graphs in front of tanks. Flag-waving children climbed onto the vehicles.
The protesters’ barricades that had controlled entry to the square were dismantled, and security checkpoints at which demonstrators showed identification and had their bags searched were also gone. Several hundred thousand protesters cheered outside the presidential palace of Rasel-Tin in coastal Alexandria.They also waved flags, whistled and danced.
People in the southern city of Assiut fired guns in the air as they roamed the streets on motorcycles or pickup trucks. Coffee houses distributed free sweet drinks to anyone who walked by.
Mubarak resignation creates political vacuum for US in Middle East
President Hosni Mubarak’s decision to step down after three decades in power presents the Obama administration with a political vacuum in the Middle East.According to the Washington Post, the Obama administration will be compelled to shift roles from managing a volatile political standoff that paralyzed a regional ally to ensuring that Egypt’s commanding generals, many of them trained in the United States, carry out the political and legal changes necessary to guarantee fair elections later this year.
According to the paper, Washington is now looking beyond on the ground situations in Cairo, Tunis and Amman.It is looking at how to encourage the election of governments that are responsive to their electorates and to U.S. interests.Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser for strategic communication, said the administration had reached out by phone to officials across the Arab world in recent days to assure them that the United States intends “to keep its commitments.”But a senior Republican member of Congress who has access to intelligence reports said U.S. spy agencies have seen recent indications that other Middle East leaders were dismayed by the United States’ treatment of Mubarak. An expert on terrorism, Middle East politics and Homeland Security issues has said Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s exit will usher a new political process in Egypt.Institute for Advanced Computer Studies Researcher Aaron Mannes of the University of Maryland said it could be the beginning of an Egyptian renaissance, or even an era of far greater tyranny and in stability in the region.He also said the Egyptian leadership military or civilian, would be ” hard- pressed” to tackle the country’s innumerable social, economic, and political problems.”There are no instant solutions to these problems. So far, the Egyptian protesters have appeared moderate in tone and action. But a new government that has difficulty coping with its challenges may turn to radicalism or repression,” Mannes added.Turning the economy around would be the primary concern of Egypt.”Although Egypt was liberalizing its economy and the overall macro-economic numbers were strong, most Egyptians were not benefiting. Unfortunately two of Egypt’s leading sources of income, tourism and tolls on the Suez Canal, will be adversely affected by ongoing turmoil, reducing the Egyptian government’s options for addressing the national challenges,” Manas said.
Israel has reacted with quiet and deep concern over the exit of long-term ally Hosni Mubarak as the president of Egypt.The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu maintained the same studied silence on the assumption that nothing it said could serve its interests.
Israeli officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they were worried that a post Mubarak regime could be less friendly to Israel.”We don’t know who will be running things in the coming months in Egypt, but we have to keep two things in mind.
The first is that the only example we have of this kind of thing in the region is Iran in 1979. You can’t take that out of your mind. The second is that if Egypt pulls back in any way from its peace with Israel, it will discourage anyone else in the region, including the Palestinians, from stepping forward. So the regional implications for us are significant,” the New York Times quoted one official, as saying.
The official said it was more likely than not that Egypt would maintain its peace treaty with Israel and added that, in any case, relations with Israel would probably not be among the first concerns of the incoming Egyptian authorities.
Prime Minister Netanyahu laid out three possible situations after Mubarak resigned. He said: “First, Egyptians may choose to embrace the model of a secular reformist state with a prominent role for the military.
There is a second possibility that the Islamists exploit the influence to gradually take the country into a reverse direction – not towards modernity and reform but backward.”And there’s still a third possibility that Egypt would go the way of Iran, where calls for progress would be silenced by a dark and violent despotism that subjugates its own people and threatens everyone else.”Mubarak is reported to have told close friend and former Israeli defense minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer that he saw great peril ahead for Egypt.”He spoke about a snowball that was starting to roll, which would not leave a single Arab state untouched in either the Middle East or North Africa,” the NYT quoted Ben-Eliezer, as saying.”He spoke of his disappointment with the Americans,” he added.Across the border, in Palestine, marches were held in the Gaza Strip on Friday. The marchers chanted against Mubarak and also against President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, whom they consider a traitor.Hamas officials are calling on Egypt to open its border with Gaza completely.
– OE News Bureau