Mubarak steps down. What comes next for the Egyptian revolution?
Mubarak stepped down 18 days after a leaderless revolution emerged in Cairo to press for the end of the president's 30-year reign. Now the matter of leadership becomes much more pressing.
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In Pictures Exclusive Monitor photos of Egypt's turmoil
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The military’s role shows that Mubarak's departure can't all be attributed to people power. The military's generally neutral stance to the protesters had been a de facto tilt in their direction, and the friendly attitude of soldiers in front of the TV building on Friday – they even allowed demonstrators to climb up on their tanks to shake hands and pose for snapshots – made the siege of the government symbol much easier.
Mustafa Kamel al-Sayed, a Cairo University political science professor, speaking shortly before Mubarak resigned, said: “There are already some divisions among the demonstrators. Some are saying, ‘Let us give the promise of reform a chance and trust the armed forces, who say they will guarantee reform.’ Others are saying, ‘No trust is left.’ If the process of reform doesn’t proceed positively and quickly, this could become very dangerous.”
Trust in the military to ensure democratic transition
President Obama and reformers like ElBaradei had been hoping for a managed transition in Egypt, fearful that Mubarak’s precipitous departure could lead to political chaos and the potential for a full military takeover.
That’s what happened today, but many in Egypt trust that the military will play a caretaker role and ensure a democratic transition. Everyone will soon find out if that trust is well placed.
The US has been in a difficult spot, with its close ties to Mubarak, its reliance on Egypt to advance regional goals like Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, and its stated desire for democratic reform.
At the moment, Egypt’s revolution looks like it’s at the end of the beginning, to borrow from Winston Churchill. What comes next will depend on whether the demonstrators can continue to rally masses to their side and if men like Suleiman are willing to use force to avoid being swept away.
IN PICTURES: Exclusive Monitor photos of Egypt's turmoil