“We want freedom!” a demonstrator passionately proclaimed to a TV camera in Cairo. ”If the regime does not step down, the people’s Intifada will continue” said leading Egyptian activist Mohamed El Baradei in an interview to Al Jazeera.
”A new Constitution is needed”, added the former Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), stressing that ”the people has the right to ask for change in a peaceful way”. A ”change”, said the Nobel peace laureate – ”comes from the inside and not the outside”.
The revolution in Egypt threatens to overthrow more than the Mubarak regime. Egypt has been a valued foil for the USA in the Arab world. President Obama chose Cairo for his famous speech at the start of his presidency.
It is now possible, that the visible support for Mubarak will come back to haunt U.S. Middle East hopes.
There is smoldering, turbulent almost feverish activity in the Arab world. In Tehran this week, Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami spoke about the ‘unrest’ which has gripped Arab countries including Tunisia and Egypt.
The Tunisian President Zine El Abidine’s government fell on January 14. The overthrow happened after bloody protests erupted inspired by high unemployment and high food prices symptoms akin to the Egyptian situation.
Khatami suggested the spirit of Tunisia engulfed Egypt. “Today, an Islamic Middle East is taking shape and this is a new Middle East which is based on Islam, religion and religious democracy,” he said. Those words will drive a knife into many hearts.
In the wings of the Egyptian drama is the passionate Muslim Brotherhood, grandfather of Hamas. You can be certain MB has already positioned for a power-play when the time is right.
Yusuf al-Qaradawi, is a spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. He urged President Mubarak to step down. “Go Mubarak, have mercy on this people and leave so as not to increase the destruction of Egypt,” he said.
Whatever the immediate outcome of the current crisis, Mubarak is permanently damaged. Eventually, his dictatorship will fall. What happens next will most likely depend on the Egyptian military.
You can be certain, there is a new focus of concern in the Middle East. Egypt has been a partner with America throughout the war on terror. If that commitment is over, standby for serious consequences.