Egyptian president steps down: What's next for the country and region
Friday, February 11, 2011; 4:47 PM
Hosni Mubarak stepped down as President of Egypt after nearly 30 years in power and the future of the country's government is in transition:
In a televised statement Friday night, the military pledged that it would not act as a substitute for a "legitimate government" following Mubarak's resignation and would take steps to meet the people's aspirations. Reading the statement, a military spokesman praised Mubarak for his contributions to Egypt and hailed protesters who have died in the anti-Mubarak demonstrations.
Egypt's Supreme Council of the Armed Forces includes the top service commanders led by Lt. Gen. Sami Enan, the armed forces chief of staff.
Events of the past few weeks have already impacted other countries in the region:
Many regimes have already rushed to offer concessions to their citizens intended to appease unrest or deflect the threat of revolt. Algeria's President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has promised to lift his country's 19-year-old state of emergency, which gave the military broad powers to battle Islamist insurgents but also to suppress dissent.
Syrian authorities this week lifted bans on Facebook and Twitter and had earlier announced new social welfare programs for government workers and new fuel subsidies.
Jordan's King Abdullah has fired his cabinet and appointed a new one in response to demonstrations there. In Iraq, whose fragile democracy is by no means immune to calls for change and reform, government officials have raced to volunteer for reduced salaries, starting with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who announced last week that he would accept a 50 percent pay cut.
"This will add enthusiasm to the Iraqi people's demands for reform, and it is living proof that tyrants in all countries will have their day," said Saif al-Bahadilili, 24, an Iraqi economics student who earlier in the day led chants for reform among a small group of protesters at a demonstration in Baghdad's own Tahrir Square that was clearly inspired by the protests in Egypt.
The United States continues to watch closely:
By necessity, the Obama administration is already looking beyond Cairo, just as it quickly turned the page on Tunis after President Zine Abidine Ben Ali fled amid public protest last month, to the monarchies of Saudi Arabia and Jordan, the only other Arab nation at peace with Israel.
What senior U.S. officials see in those kingdoms' economic stagnation, youthful populations, and simmering political frustration is a potential echo of Tunis and Cairo - and political change that could usher out allies in favor of an angry, anti-Western opposition. How to encourage the election of governments not only responsive to their electorates but also to U.S. interests remains the uncharted challenge ahead.