Well, they did it; and good for them. The people of Egypt finally managed to run Hosni Mubarak out of town on a rail and paved the way for a democratic future—assuming the Egyptian military, which has now taken on the responsibilities of the President, doesn't succumb to the vice grips of power and greed. Its willingness to act as a short-lived transitional government isn't a sure thing, but the gamble is one worth taking. The military itself was split between those who supported the protesters and those who wanted to see Mubarak cling to life until September, when God-knows-what would happen. Those odds are better than what Egypt would get with Omar Suleiman at the helm, though, and its beginning to sound more and more like the army will comply with quick transition.
Being a little late for work this morning, I was fortunate enough to hear the BBC's coverage of Mubarak's resignation as it was happening. Tahrir Square was a cacophony of cheers. I can't recall ever hearing such mass jubilation as I did on the radio today. The joy in that crowd was irrepressible; it was incredible and uplifting to hear in real time.
The road ahead won't be easy, and it will be interesting to watch how the political landscape in Egypt takes shape over the next few months and years as they begin to grapple with their government. The United States will surely be watching in hopes that the Muslim Brotherhood is somehow marginalized and kept out of executive power; I hope, though, that America doesn't do too much meddling. Egypt is not Iran, nor is this revolution going to turn out like Iran's did, I don't think. The best thing for the Middle East right now is to have a country like Egypt organically embrace and forge a strong secular democracy, which seems likely for the moment.
President Obama was worried, in the beginning, that Mubarak would retain power and that any show of support from the United States to the protesters could potentially sacrifice political ties with Egypt. Now, he is openly embracing the revolution, a sentiment I suspect his administration probably harbored privately all along, but wouldn't it have been nice if he had spoken up two weeks ago?
He was worried about being on the wrong side of history, of course. But the wrong side of history was the one Mubarak was on, no matter who would have won this showdown.
It's a good day to be an Egyptian.