Saturday, February 12, 2011

Mubarak Resigns

President Hosni Mubarak, ruler of Egypt for the past 30 years, has resigned and agreed to step down immediately bringing celebration and joy to those hundreds of thousands who have been demanding his departure in revolutionary protest over the past 18 days. Although the next steps remain unclear, the army has stepped in as temporary guardians of the state with all that entails. However it was only on Thursday night that we heard a Mubarak in denial as he insisted on staying on until September thinking he had the full support of his military to back him up and clear the protesters from the streets of Cairo. How wrong he was.

While Mubarak thought he could transfer power to his number two and favourite of the Obama Administration, Intelligence chief Oman Suleiman, the Egyptian people had other ideas for this revolution was not about just one man but about the entire system. Indeed, it was only hours before Mubarak's speech that the army had told the people the exact opposite of what Mubarak declared in his speech and so were as shocked as the people were to hear Mubarak's speech of defiance and insistence of remaining in power. As a direct result, the protesters and their leaders promised even bigger strikes, demonstrations and turmoil that would shut the whole country down and were enough to encourage the army to push Mubarak to back down and flee to Sharm el-Sheikh. What followed shortly was the resignation speech from Omar Suleiman on behalf of President Mubarak:

In the name of Allah the most gracious, the most merciful.

My fellow citizens, in the difficult circumstances our country is experiencing, President Muhammad Hosni Mubarak has decided to give up the office of the president of the republic and instructed the supreme council of the armed forces to manage the affairs of the country. May God guide our steps.

The new face of Egpytian power is Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi who promises to guide Egypt through the transitional steps to democracy and will act according to what the people of Egypt want. How this is expected to take place is unclear or who decides what the people of Egypt really want. What is bound to occur is a struggle for power and influence in the new Egypt for what will not be easy to dissolve from the last 60 years of Egyptian history is the system of power, status and priveleges that dominate Egyptian politics. Should Antawi and his men still be in power by the end of the year then the entire protest to remove Mubarak will have been for nothing. If the military now moves solely to protect its own position, and that of the big businessmen who have done well out of links with the regime, then the system will not open up, at least not without repression and bloodshed. The US and Israel however will be welcoming the army rule as it implies a continuity of the status quo and preservence of the cold peace that has been a corner stone of Middle East stability for the past 30 years.

For more analysis on the current situation and how unclear the future really is for Egypt, click here.

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