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Opinion-makers comment on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepping down after three decades of rule.
The stepping down of Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak on Friday following weeks of demonstrations has led to an outpouring of celebration on the streets of Egypt as well as around the world. Here is a roundup of some of the top thinkers on the revolution:
"In some ways, President Barack Obama did the Egyptian revolution a great favor by never fully endorsing it and never even getting his act together for how to deal with it. This meant in the end that Egyptians know they did this for themselves by themselves — with nothing but their own willpower, unity and creativity.
This was a total do-it-yourself revolution. This means that anyone in the neighborhood can copy it by dialing 1-800-Tahrir Square. And that is why my favorite chant of all that I heard coming back from Tahrir tonight was directed at the leader next door, Muammar el-Qaddafi of Libya. It said, 'We don’t leave Tahrir until Qaddafi leaves office.' Hello Tripoli, Cairo calling."
"Events in Egypt are not yet a revolution. The czar may have abdicated, but the 'ancien regime' is still in power. It seems unlikely that Mubarak’s chosen successor, former intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, can satisfy the Cairo street. Concessions that might have placated protestors yesterday are too-little-too-late today. But in the end the army got rid of Mubarak because, with the country in chaos, Mubarak was bad for business. The army will not permit a revolution in Egypt."
"It will be said that the great, enduring dilemmas of Egypt — a huge country that has lost out in the game of nations — will still be there. There will be accounts to settle, a struggle between those who were sullied by the dictatorship and those who weren't. The Egyptians will be tested again as to their fidelity to democratic ways. But if this standoff that ended in the demise of the dictator is any guide, the Egyptians may give us a consoling tale of an Islamic people who rose to proclaim their fidelity to liberty, and who provided us with a reminder that tyranny is not fated for the Arabs."
"It would be a tragedy — and a recipe for more upheaval — if the army misreads this historic moment. Egyptians want democracy. They do not want to trade one repressive system for another ...
The cheering won’t last long if the military council does not quickly follow through on its pledges. There are some basic steps that it can and must take immediately — starting with lifting the emergency law and guaranteeing all Egyptians the right of free speech, due process and assembly. There can be no temporizing or suggestions that the protesters must first go home."
"There is much to quibble with in the [Obama] administration's approach — too many daily political weather reports about the current situation in Cairo, not enough initial coordination about what the administration should say, and too many presidential statements.
But on balance, the administration has played a bad hand pretty well. The cards the president were dealt were largely beyond his control. Hammering him now completely ignores the reality that U.S. policy made its bed in Egypt decades ago, and now the administration — forced to sleep in it as it confronts the current crisis — has few good options."
"We called on Mubarak to demand a set of constitutional amendments before delegating control of the transition process. This transition must include a lifting of the state of emergency; the dissolution of the illegitimate People's Assembly and Shura Council [the two chambers of parliament that have come from rigged and flawed elections]; the formation of an independent legal committee to amend the constitution; and the lifting of laws restricting political freedoms. These are the essential steps that will put Egypt on a safe path to democracy. They are also the steps by which the international community should judge our government's commitment to reform."
"Look a little deeper [at China] and this ostensibly resilient regime is afflicted by many of the same pathologies as Egypt: repression, corruption, low accountability, a surprisingly narrow base of support and fast-rising inequality. Yes, growth and prosperity help the CCP maintain its legitimacy. But the regime knows that performance-based legitimacy is unreliable, at best. The same frustrations that drove Egyptians into the streets could be unleashed in China when its economy inevitably hits a speed bump."
"The president's resignation was really just a necessary prologue to the real mission: establishing democracy. That goal still faces many obstacles. For starters, even with Mubarak gone, most of his generals are still there. Egypt's military has supplied the country's leaders for almost 60 years, since the revolution of 1952. Mubarak, 82 and ailing, was on his way out already, and some members of the Supreme Council — beginning with his right-hand man, Gen. [and now Vice President] Omar Suleiman, already had their eyes on the president's job. Suleiman has openly scoffed at the idea that Egypt is 'ready for democracy.' "
"After an 18-day, tumultuous, emotional and sometimes violent ride toward overthrowing a U.S.-backed dictatorship, the people of Egypt gathered in Tahrir Square just wanted to celebrate."
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