Pyramid of Freedom

The Egyptian people, when roused, have proved a mighty force. In the end, Hosni Mubarak had no option but to bow to it and leave the stage, as demanded. Confronted with the biggest anti-government demonstrations Egypt has ever known, he has been forced to face up to the reality that after 30 years, Egypt did not want him any more. All his maneuvering, all his rhetoric, could not save him. Sharm El-Sheikh could provide no hiding place.

He could have gone gracefully a week ago. He could even have gone gracefully on Thursday evening. But he blew it with his televised delusions that Egypt needed him. As a result, the one-time war hero who has given Egypt great stability over the years leaves in disgrace.

It is a momentous turn of events. In 1952, it was the army that brought about change in Egypt; it has been at the center of power ever since. Today it is the people. The army has simply reacted to events. Like Mubarak, it has bowed to the wave of public pressure that swept through Egypt's cities and streets. It says everything about where power now lies. Sovereignty in Egypt is now unquestionably with the Egyptian people. This is Egypt's real revolution. The date Feb. 11 will echo in Egyptian history.

And what a wave it has been! Today in Cairo and throughout Egypt, it is carnival time. But just a day ago, no one knew how events would turn out. But throughout, the protesters acted with great dignity and remarkable self-control. They refused to be intimidated despite over 300 of their number being killed. Their determination and courage has been a wonder to see, an inspiration that has resonated across the world.

What happens next in Egypt is impossible to predict. Will Mubarak's resignation calm the situation or will the protesters, having tasted success, want more? Two of their demands are met. Mubarak has gone and power has not been handed to Omar Suleiman, Mubarak's brief vice president but to the army council. But there were two other demands from the protesters. They want a new Parliament and an end to the emergency laws.

The army council must oblige. It had already said that the laws would go once the crisis ends. As for Parliament, it can simply call for new parliamentary elections alongside a new presidential contest.

These elections are key to future stability. The army has shown itself on the side of the protesters but it now has to show its assumption of power is temporary. A new legitimacy has to be found. That can be provided only by the ballot box.

As to the date, Egyptians may well agree to wait till September as originally planned - they have been remarkably long suffering and patient, and may be willing to be patient a little longer. But there will be those who demand an earlier date - April or May - and there is no reason why not. But even as the news of Mubarak's departure is being digested, the world is asking: Where next in the Middle East?

That is impossible to say. But it is most unlikely that Egypt's upheaval will not have ramifications elsewhere.

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Older Comments:
Arab News is published from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. They are talking about elections in Egypt. ah, but no mention of elections in Saudi Arabia.

"Sovereignty in Egypt is now unquestionably with the Egyptian people. This is Egypt's real revolution. The date Feb. 11 will echo in Egyptian history.".

Again no mention of Sovereignty in Saudi Arabia or Revolution in Saudi Arabia.

"These elections are key to future stability.". Again no such mention for Saudi Arabia.

Too afraid to talk about it in Saudi Kingdom.

PetroMonarchies must be scared stiff about the power of the people in Egypt lest it moves towards them and topple them. They don't expect any help from US; wherever US goes, it makes a bigger mess (for everybody).