Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Hosni Mubarak relinquishes power in Egypt

The dictatorship has been toppled at last:
Bowing to 18 days of a popular revolt that showed no sign of slowing down, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigned Friday and handed over power to the military, an ignominious end to his 30 years of U.S.-backed authoritarian rule.

The streets of Cairo erupted with celebratory gunfire, honking car horns and cheers from hundreds of thousands of protesters who'd braved tear gas, rubber bullets, attacks from government-allied thugs and communications disruptions to organize a revolt that was unprecedented in Egypt's modern history.

Vice President Omar Suleiman made the announcement on state television Friday evening, less than 24 hours after a defiant Mubarak had refused to go.
Mubarak has left Cairo for his private residence on the Sinai Peninsula; it's not known if he plans to stay in the country or ultimately leave.

The Swiss government has frozen assets that may belong to Mubarak, according to news reports, to deter theft of state property.

We at NPI congratulate the people of Egypt on this momentous development. We fervently hope that the recent protests will lead to free and fair elections, and a democratic, civilian government that is truly representative of all Egypt.

We salute the resilience and determination of the hardiest protesters, who kept the pro-democracy movement alive in the face of violence and rallied thousands of other Egyptians to the cause. Were it not for their steadfastness, Hosni Mubarak would still be in power. They demanded change and brought it about by refusing to walk away after taking a stand.

In ousting Mubarak, they have also succeeded in humbling America's arrogant political establishment, whose main priority seem to be protecting our access to oil.

As recently as a few weekends ago, Vice President Joe Biden was on camera reinforcing the administration's support of Hosni Mubarak. Asked if it was time for Mubarak to go, he said no, and then added this:
Mubarak has been an ally of ours in a number of things. And he’s been very responsible on, relative to geopolitical interest in the region, the Middle East peace efforts; the actions Egypt has taken relative to normalizing relationship with – with Israel. [...] I would not refer to him as a dictator.
Mubarak has had control of Egypt for three decades. He never won power democratically or fairly. He was, in fact, a dictator, and his regime was an autocracy, as our Vice President undoubtedly knows. At the time he made those comments, Biden probably didn't want to call a spade a spade because he didn't want to anger Mubarak. Which just goes to show how messed up our foreign policy is. As a democracy, we should be supporting the democratic aspirations of other peoples. It's pretty sad that our government waited until Mubarak was in a tough spot before changing America's position and backing democratic reforms.

Pro-democracy activist Wael Ghonim, who serves as the head of marketing for Google Middle East, has already headed off the inevitable congratulatory statements from heads of state in Europe and North America a few hours ago by tweeting, "Dear Western Governments, You've been silent for 30 years supporting the regime that was oppressing us. Please don't get involved now."

MORE: The Guardian has a running account of new developments.


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