The CBC has reported that that military has asked the current Mubarak appointed government to continue until a new one is formed. There is no doubt that the voice of authority in the country as it has been for the past 50 years is the military. While the jubilation continues, the future lies in the hands of the armed forces although for once, they do not seem to be rallying around a single leader, a potential dictator but are following the will of the people.
With Mubarak stepping down on Friday, The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces effectively took over running the country. Their first order of business has apparently been to appease protesters to a certain extent by relaxing the night-time curfew and banning ex-government officials from travelling abroad without permission. With the shift in power, what members of the former regime are going to be seen trying to "escape"? Reports yesterday stated that the Swiss government had frozen assets of Mubarak who is reportedly worth $40 billion. That’s quite of bit of loot for a humble government employee.
ITN News – Feb 12/2011
Egypt awakes to uncertain future
Tahrir Square prepares for a day of celebration after the fall of Egypt’s president Hosni Mubarak.
ITN News – Feb 11/2011
Obama: ‘Egypt’s moment of history’
US President Obama says the ‘wheel of history’ has turned in Egypt and compares the protests to Gandhi and the fall of the Berlin wall.
Reuters is saying that protest is not quite over. Pro-democracy activists in Tahrir Square want the Military Council running Egypt to accept their agenda of reform and have vowed to stay in the square until they do so. Their demands include the lifting of the state of emergency, releasing political prisoners and disbanding military courts. They also want the transitional process to include civilians.
USA Today points out the new problem for this fledgling democracy: picking a leader. The paper quotes Hanny Megally, vice president for programs at the International Center for Transitional Justice, who is Egyptian, "Ideally, what people are looking for is the military council to find civilians to be put in charge and the military would take a back seat."
The paper quotes another expert, Robert Danin, senior fellow for Middle East and Africa Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations who says, "Mubarak’s departure has opened a new chapter in Egyptian history. The immediate future is the hands of this military council. Are they able and willing to lead a transition to real democracy and then relinquish control to civilian oversight? I think the jury is still out."
That is the great question for this country that has spent over 50 years under military control by who has essentially been a dictator. Will the military give up control? Or will a key player within the military come out on top? However, considering the protests of the past 18 days, it is hard to believe that anyone in the current military council would consider some sort of a coup to seize power. The protest movement has passed the tipping point. The whole world is now watching. A coup would leave the country and any leadership so alienated, especially from the U.S., Egypt’s main benefactor, there would seemingly be no way to survive. Besides, the bloodshed necessary at this point to overcome the protesters would be too great.
USA Today quotes experts who point out two key players in military circles: Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, 75, Minister of Defence and Military Production, and commander-in-chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces, since 1991 and head of the military council and General Sami Anan, who was in Washington, D.C., meeting with U.S. military leaders when the protests began. Both are power brokers and even if they do not end up being the new leader of Egypt, they will certainly have a hand in ensuring an orderly transition to a new government.
Egypt will respect all treaties
The BBC has written that Egyptian military authorities have reaffirmed the country’s commitment to all its international treaties. Is somebody in Israel wiping their brow? When Anwar Sadat signed the peace accord with Israel in 1979, the two countries entered an unprecedented era of non violence. It has been shaky at times, but both countries, by effectively removing war from the table, left themselves free to pursue other interests like their economies. War is expensive.
During the days of protests when it became worrisome that Mubarak would go and with him would go the stability in foreign relations of the past three decades, many were worried that a new regime would mean going back to square one on all treaties signed between Egypt and other countries including especially Israel.
This news will be most welcome news not only for Israel but for Egypt itself. Egypt does not need a war or any belligerent moves towards its neighbour. It needs to focus all of its efforts on getting its house in order and moving from a military dictatorship to a true democracy is no small job. Egypt will have a lot on its plate for a long time to come.
On February 4, it was reported (see Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood: Preparing for clash with Israel):
Egypt should prepare for a war with Israel, the Suez Canal is needed to be closed and gas deliveries from Egypt to Israel seized, Mohamed Ghanem, one of the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt said in an interview to the English-language Al-Alam news agency.
Mohamed Ghanem, if he actually said this, made a stupid statement. No one in his right mind should consider following anybody whose agenda would possibly include such a move.
The biggest danger for Egypt right now is extremists. Stability under a military dictatorship is stability but with freedom comes the danger of instability. I hope that cooler heads will prevail. Egypt needs to focus on creating a democracy. Egypt does not need war; it does not need sectarian strife.
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