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Exit Pharoah

Mubarak steps down; military in charge

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Tahrir Square this morning.(Pedro Ugarte/AFP/Getty Images)

Vice President Omar Suleiman has announced today, on the 18th day of protests, that President Hosni Mubarak has resigned from the presidency. According to the army, it will supervise Suleiman as he implements constitutional reforms in the coming months. In the last few minutes of ecstasy, anyway, for the exhausted multitude in Tahrir Square this has been Kifaya: Enough. Be happy for them.

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A.L. Bell says:

a) I just don’t think we have any choice but to congratulate the Egyptian people for trying to be free. Who knows who will end up in power and whether we, or the Egyptians, will like the new rulers, but the Egyptians’ right to have a government that does not arbitrarily throw large numbers of people into jail and torture them trumps most other concerns. I want Israel to have peace, and I’m a pragmatist who understands that governments in the Middle East tend not to be too gentle, but I don’t think it’s good for Israel, let alone ethical, for Israel’s peace to depend on another government operating a large, frightening secret police force.

b) People in Egypt, the media, and Mubarak himself are looking at his departure as a defeat, but I don’t think it really is. No matter who ends up in control in the end, Mubarak is leaving a post he has held for many decades because the people he has governed have turned out to be well-educated, polite, organized people who have run demonstrations with Dutch precision and manners under difficult conditions.

Israelis are terrified of the people who might end up running Egypt. I’m terrified of the possibilities. It’s naive to think that the people running the demonstrations are necessarily what they seem, or that they’ll end up in charge of the Egyptian government, or that things will go as they hope even if they are smart and humane and really do mean well.

But the demonstrators won because they’ve been wonderful demonstrators.

Mubarak may have been quicker to use repressive methods than one would wish, but, like the British in countries like the United States and India, he looks as if he may have, in effect, produced political children who can get along fine without him.

When children leave home and start making their own decisions because they no longer need the parents, that’s not a defeat for the parents. It’s a tremendous triumph.
The fact that Mubarak has produced large numbers of demonstrators who can use Twitter and Facebook, set up first aid clinics, form human chains to protect museums, and talk to reporters for several minutes at a time without foaming at the mouth about Israel, that’s a victory. Mubarak muddled through as best he could and, apparently, despite his faults, G-d was with him.

It appears Obama’s pressure finally worked, but at what cost? Mubarak is out, the protesters are as disorganized as always, and the only two parties standing capable of running a government are the army, which means a continuing autocracy, and the Muslim Brotherhood, which means the largest and most powerful Arab country goes theocracy. Good crisis management!

As regards America’s standing in the Muslim world Iran has long held the US in contempt for its failures of management of the war (Iran funded, armed and led the resistance to the “occupation”); and now the rest of the region, if not the entire world, is aware that alliance with the United States is as firm as a dune in a sandstorm.

Saudi King Abdullah, “chastised the president for his treatment of Egypt and its president Hosni Mubarak calling it a disaster that would generate instability in the region and imperil all the moderate Arab rulers and regimes which had backed the United States until now… the Saudi royal family would bend all its resources to undoing Washington’s plans for Egypt and nullifying their consequences.”

This has certainly been a banner decade for America’s position in the region. Bush turned Iraq from anti- to pro-Iran by creating the Shiite “democracy”; turned Gaza over to Hamas after forcing Abbas to permit that party’s place in elections, then promoting a coup against the democratically-elected Hamas government.

And now the current White House incumbent topped off the slide in American prestige by changing horses multiple times in the struggle between Egypt’s regime and the street.

Let’s look in our crystal ball at the future. With Turkey already adrift and the “moderate” monarchies close behind, the US is history. But what then? Well, there is theocratic Iran exporting its brand of anti-Americanism. And who supplies and supports Iran? Well, in the 1960’s the US opposed Soviet influence in the region (assisted by Israel). Russia is behind Iran, and that country will inherit.

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Exit Pharoah

Mubarak steps down; military in charge

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