Friday, February 11, 2011

Mubarak is Out!

Watch live streaming video from usa_today1 at

After dancing tango with the Egyptian military and people, Mubarak has finally stepped down. You can watch live coverage via the embedded player above and read more below.

At this point in history, I wish I could be an Arabic speaking fly on the wall of the closed, smoke-filled back rooms where intense negotiations have been going on between the regime shapers in Egypt. For now, Mubarak has left Cairo to an unknown destination. Some say it is Sharm al Sheikh, which has become his preferred residence in recent years. Some speculate he is gone to exile in the UAE.

For now, VP Omar Suleiman has formally placed the military in charge. Which strengthens the assertion that this is a military coup, not a full fledged regime change.

Palestinian-Jordanian political commentator (and dissident) Mudar Zahran, sees it as a true transformation in Arab society that will better serve everyone, Israel and the US as well. Mudar is a Palestinian rights advocate, but is also a friend of Israel and the west. His recent Facebook update is very optimistic:
Mubarak has stepped down, to all of thsoe who care for Israel DO NOT WORRY! You will see that the new government will be friends with Israel! They might sound off some anti-Israeli slogans, yet in reality they will just observe their mutual interest with Israel!
On the Israeli side, renowned 'refusenik' and respected diplomat, Natan Sharansky, is also optimistic about Egypt's transformation from a regressive autocracy to a democracy. I hope Mudar and Sharansky's best of wishes for Egypt come true.

On the more cautious side is Barry Rubin. While Rubin has consistently showed that he really hopes for a democratic transformation of Egypt, he recommends to exercise caution:
We constantly hear about the "Mubarak regime" and "thirty years" of dictatorship. But that's not who and what this government is really about.
It is the Nasser-Sadat-Mubarak regime, almost sixty years old. It was established by a military coup in 1952. And here's what is so central about it: This is the act and the government that began the long reign of radical Arab nationalism over the Arab world. Either countries were taken over by this ideology (Egypt, Syria, Iraq) or had to give it lip service and appeasement.
So is this not just the end of Mubarak but the end of the Arab nationalist movement? What ideology is going to replace it? Islamism or democracy? That's the issue. This is an end to an era of Middle Eastern and Arab history, not just the downfall of one man or one regime.

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