Yesterday, Hosni Mubarak stepped down as President of Egypt, after three weeks of demonstrations. Egyptians at home and all around the world rejoiced at the prospect of freedom, as the army took over.
No, that last part was not meant as a joke. The people were happy because the army took over. That part seems a little strange to me as an American, who considers the military as an agency of the government, but I understand that other parts of the world do things differently.
For our part, the American leadership was all over the place in responding to the events in Egypt, because, in brief, we’re not sure what to do about it. On the one hand, we’re pleased that the Egyptian people are striving for political freedom. On the other hand, President Mubarak was a strategic ally, and Egypt is the one Arab nation that is undeniably at peace with Israel. In a practical sense, we were sorry to see him go, but we couldn’t say that too loud.
But what happens next?
The immediate cause of the demonstrations in Egypt was increased food prices and poor economic opportunity. But I don’t see how replacing the President as leader with a general, or even the transition to greater political freedom, is going to change that.
From our perspective as Americans, we worry that some Islamic group will take power, ditch the peace with Israel, and generally give us trouble. But not knowing the facts on the ground, there is not much we can practically do.
Except pray and hope for the best….