“The people and the army are in one hand”
Another dispatch from Egyptian-American journalist Hoda Osman:
Just got back from Tahrir. The army is there keeping the order. They’re not even in the square, they’re just blocking the exits and entrances, but no one is being searched anymore. Now people are just freely walking around and chanting and drinking juice. The nice thing that I really admire is there was someone on a speaker who announced a moment of silence for a minute for those who died. He then announced “We will celebrate till 6 in the morning… and then we’ll start cleaning up Tahrir Square and we’ll make it look better than before.”
People are not afraid of the military taking over. Everyone is taking pictures with the soldiers around the square. One of the big chants is “the people and the army are in one hand.” People trust them because they said that they will guarantee all the changes the people want. The people got what they wanted.
And the Pharaoh Falls
From Emad Mekay, a former reporter for The New York Times Middle East Bureau, currently based in Cairo, via email:
Isn’t the Egyptian Army great? Well, so far. As far as I know, they refused to shoot at their own people. The country is happy. I am happy too. Mubarak is out after 18 tense days. It is like new Independence Day here. If the army is as great as I think it is, I think they will hand over the country to the chief justice of the country’s supreme constitutional court for a transitional period. This is the best possible scenario that could happen. He is a low-key civilian.
Well, the Pharaoh has fallen. Will the American people help? I think there will be some who may feel threatened in the U.S. I do not think they should. From day one, there was nothing anti-American or even anti-Israeli about this. I hope the American people will be happy with us. Of course, if all goes well, Egypt’s foreign policy will be more assertive at the hands of elected and more accountable future leaders. It will not be anti-American. The U.S. should just learn more creative and less intimidating ways of dealing with the Egyptians. Washington should treat Egyptians as friends and not as followers. Egyptians now are in great mood now. This elation will continue for weeks. Washington should extend a hand. Egyptians will remember that
I never asked to be president.
To understand the roots of the protests in Egypt — and what might happen next — Need to Know’s Alison Stewart sat down with Neil MacFarquhar, the United Nations bureau chief for The New York Times.
Here’s a bite: “You know, in the speech he said ‘I never asked to be President.’ And it’s right — he TOLD them he was going to be president, again and again and again.”
What Mubarak’s ouster means for the Middle East peace process
Activists celebrating Hosni Mubarak’s ouster on Friday began discussing what the regime change in Egypt might mean for the rest of the Arab world. In a telephone interview from Amman, Palestinian journalist Daoud Kuttab said that protesters celebrating outside the Egyptian embassy there had been speculating that a new Egyptian government might permanently reopen the Rafah crossing at the border with Gaza, which is governed by the Islamist militant group Hamas.
Kuttab also said that Egyptians might begin to focus more on their government and economy than on external affairs. Egypt had, for example, been mediating crucial reconciliation talks between Hamas and the rival faction Fatah. “Omar Suleiman was the one brokering all that,” Kuttab said, referring to Mubarak’s former vice-president and right-hand man, “and I think he’s going to be out of a job.”
— Sal Gentile
NYT’s Nick Kristof tweets:
I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn’t steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. These are not just American ideas; they are human rights. And that is why we will support them everywhere. (Applause.)Now, there is no straight line to realize this promise. But this much is clear: Governments that protect these rights are ultimately more stable, successful and secure. Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. America respects the right of all peaceful and law-abiding voices to be heard around the world, even if we disagree with them. And we will welcome all elected, peaceful governments — provided they govern with respect for all their people.
This last point is important because there are some who advocate for democracy only when they’re out of power; once in power, they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others. (Applause.) So no matter where it takes hold, government of the people and by the people sets a single standard for all who would hold power: You must maintain your power through consent, not coercion; you must respect the rights of minorities, and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise; you must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party. Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy.
– from Obama’s 2009 speech to the Muslim world, in Cairo
What happened between yesterday and today?
ABC reports that after his non-resignation speech last night, the White House let Mubarak know that it was time to go. President Obama is expected to speak to reporters about today’s developments at 1:30 p.m. EST.
Update from Tahrir Square
Egyptian-American journalist Hoda Osman via cell phone:
“We’re passing by the entrance where the army is in Tahrir Square. People are now chanting, “lift your head up high, you’re Egyptian!!” People are coming up with new chants — they had been chanting the same ones for two weeks, but now all the chants are about victory. They’re chanting “the people have already toppled the regime!!!”
I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything like this. They used to say people only cheer for the national team when they win soccer matches, but this is unprecedented. The mood is very civilized. On the bridge to downtown, people are just getting out of the cars. And amazingly, people from all walks of life are here…those with fancy brand name bags, those with torn clothes; everyone is congratulating each other on the street, people who don’t know each other are saying to each other: “Long live Egypt!”
Who’s taking over?
In a speech that was less than a minute long, Vice President Omar Suleiman announced that Mubarak had resigned and handed over power to Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. Al Jazeera provides profiles of General Omar Suleiman and other key figures in the military leadership.
Protests and celebration in Jordan
Activists and Egyptian expats living in nearby Jordan were “shocked” and “amazed” at the news on Friday that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak had stepped down, as rumors began to circulate about how the uprising might affect efforts to reform the political system in Jordan.
Sameer Jarrah, a human rights activist who runs the regional office of Freedom House in Amman, said in a telephone interview that there was considerable anger in the streets there after Mubarak’s announcement Thursday that he would try to stay on as president. Hundreds protested in solidarity with Egypt’s opposition movement, calling on Mubarak to step down.
“They were really disappointed last night,” Jarrah said. “But now after what they heard, and after that announcement half an hour ago, they were really amazed and relieved and happy and started celebrating.”
People were buying sweets from Amman’s shops and passing them around in celebration of the news, Jarrah said, especially the Egyptian expats and laborers who number as many as 400,000 and comprise a large portion of Jordan’s workforce. “They are shaking hands and kissing,” he said.
Rumors began to circulate this week that Jordan’s King Abdullah II might dissolve the parliament there in response to protests by the opposition Islamist movement and other parties. Even the East Jordanian tribes, traditionally loyal to the palace, have called for far-reaching political reforms.
“I think the government, the system here has got the message,” Jarrah said. “In a couple of days we’ll start seeing some changes, some tangible changes.”
— Sal Gentile
Jubilation in the streets of Cairo
Hossam el-Hamalawy tweets:
We just spoke with Hoda Osman, an Egyptian-American journalist who just arrived in Egypt yesterday:
“I’m on my way to Tahrir, I was just in the streets… there’s lots of cheering, car horns, people are firing guns in celebration and lots of cars just driving around with flags. We are on our way to tahrir. It’s amazing, unbelievable.”
Hoda will be sending photos and updates throughout the day.
Live chat with Mona el Ghobashy, a professor at Barnard College who specialized in protests in contemporary Egypt, hosted by our producer Mona Iskander: