President Mubarak, despite what he pledged just the day before, stepped down from power, the result of an 18-day popular uprising in Egypt. The military is in control for now and has promised both democracy and continued peace with Israel:
The ruling military pledged Saturday to eventually hand power to an elected civilian government and reassured allies that Egypt will abide by its peace treaty with Israel after the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, as it outlined the first cautious steps in a promised transition to greater democracy.
The military’s statement Saturday had been eagerly awaited by the public and thousands of protesters still massed in Cairo’s central Tahrir Square. The crowds were still riding high on jubilation over the success in removing Mubarak on Friday after 18 days of unprecedented popular protests, but they promised to maintain pressure on the military to carry through long-sought reforms.
After the statement, the main opposition coalition — a loosely based grouping of youth and traditional opposition groups — said it would end its main protest in Cairo’s Tahrir, or Liberation, Square but would call for weekly demonstrations after Friday prayers.
The group also listed its demands for the first time during a press conference. Those included: the lifting of hated emergency laws, the forming of a presidential council and broad-based unity government, the dissolution of parliament and creation of a committee to amend or rewrite the constitution. They called for reforms ensuring freedom of the press, freedom to form political parties and more transparent media institutions.
The coalition also called for an investigation into allegations of endemic corruption within the regime and the trial of officials responsible for the deaths of protesters.
Egypt is the world’s largest and most influential Arab state. The reverberations of the revolution are spreading through the Arab world, with pro-democracy factions surfacing just about everywhere, including Saudi Arabia. Might western-style freedom and democracy have a chance, once the people taste it? Or will democracy instead lead to less freedom, to Sharia law and radical Islam? Israel is very worried, though the military’s assurance that the peace treaty will be honored is surely good news. But that’s before a new civilian government is elected. Some experts have tied the rise of radical Islam to the frustrations of living under authoritarian regimes, suggesting that increased freedom will give people a more positive scope for their energies.
What do you think will happen? Over the next year or two, do you think we will see (1) western-style democracy (2) an attempt to restore the Caliphate (3) war with Israel (4) all of the above (5) other?