Breaking News! After 18 days of huge protests, Egypt’s dictator of 30 years, Hosni Mubarak, has been driven from power by the uprising of the Egyptian people, who refused to accept his attempt last night to hang on to power.
There is still much to know, but the 20-second announcement on state television at 6 pm Egyptian time informed the country that Hosni Mubarak had been driven from the Presidency of Egypt. It appears that his handpicked successor, the blood-drenched Interior Ministry head Omar Suleiman, who had been “vice president” for a few days, and who made the announcement, has also been pushed out–he said in flat tones on state television that the Army would henceforth be running the country’s affairs.
The reality is that it was the demonstrators and strikers who made this happen, but technically the ousting of Mubarak was a military coup, and It remains to be seen if the army will now to hold power and keep the ruling elite in power, or whether it will hand things over to civilians from the incredible people’s movement that has accomplished this astonishing feat.
One thing’s for sure: it would be hard to push the millions of Egyptians whose peaceful but unflinching protests achieved this revolution back into the shadows and margins of society and economic life where they have lived for half a century.
As one man told an Al Jazeera reporter: “The Egyptian People now know that they can do this. We have just witnessed the rebirth of a great nation!”
The success of this people’s movement, and the one in Tunisia that preceded it by a few days and that helped spark it, give the ultimate lie to the neocon claim that America’s catastrophic invasion of dictator Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was the right way to “bring democracy” to other countries. After 8 years of war, the deaths of upward of a million civilians, the destruction of much of the country, and the turning of one in six Iraqis into refuees (not to mention the expenditure of over $1 trillion by America, not counting the future cost of payment on war debt), Iraq has yet to experience real democracy. (It also casts in a shameful light the bipartisan policy of American governments of backing and propping up dictators. America will for a long time be paying a price in its relationship with the Egyptian people for those shells and tear gas canisters that were fired at them by Egyptian police, labeled: “Made in USA.”.)
There are many questions going forward of course. Will Mubarak, who has stolen an astonishing $70 billion from the Egyptian people–an amount that is about a seventh of Egypt’s entire GDP!–be allowed to escape with his ill-gotten gains? Will his subordinates, who have also been prodigious crooks, escape too with their stolen wealth? Will the people who unleashed the bloody thugs to try to crush the rebellion be brought to justice? And will the people get the democratic government they have struggled for or will the military retain control?
For now though, Egyptians, some 300 or more of whom died at the hands of Mubarak thugs and police during the protests, have won their freedom already. All they need to do now is defend it.
See it all on Al Jazeera TV!