The revolution in Egypt is far from over. The popular uprising may have succeeded in ousting president Hosni Mubarak and most of his top associates, but the young people who led the protests at Tahrir Square are certainly not resting on their laurels.
Tens of thousands returned to the square on Friday, this time demanding to shut down the internal security authority, Amn al-Dawla. By yesterday, dozens of young people had already taken over the headquarters of the organization, notorious for terrorizing Egyptian citizens under Mubarak's rule. The takeover was prompted by fears that organization officials were destroying evidence of their involvement in torture and other human rights violations.
Friday's protest was attended by the new Egyptian prime minister, Essam Sharaf, who had served as transportation minister in the government of Ahmed Nazif and resigned in protest at institutional corruption. Sharaf knows that while the military still maintains authority in Egypt, the real power belongs to the young people who managed to change political reality.
The new prime minister was never a great fan of the peace agreement with Israel. He opposed normalization between the countries so long as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict prevails. But Sharaf, who has led several protests during the revolution, could also play a stabilizing role. He is expected to win the confidence of the Egyptian public, especially the young people.
The leading candidate for presidency at this point seems to be the secretary-general of the Arab League, Amr Moussa. Like Sharaf, Moussa is not seen as a friend of Israel's, and Israel needs to resign itself to the fact that any new regime in Egypt will likely be less friendly than Mubarak's. Nevertheless, Moussa is not expected to damage ties with Israel. Although he has been consistently critical of Israel in his public statements, Moussa is well aware of the need to maintain a reasonable relationship with his eastern neighbor.
Until the election, both Israeli and international observers agree Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, chairman of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, remains the key authority in Cairo. The mission facing Tantawi and his generals is to take Egypt safely through a transition period that will culminate with the establishment of civilian and democratic rule. The army is maneuvering between the establishment it knows well and the street, a new and not yet entirely familiar player.
The Muslim Brotherhood, meanwhile, is seen as the opposition body most prepared for a general election, but the chances it will seize power are seen by Egyptians as slim. Most observers believe that the Brotherhood will assume a similar position to the ultra-Orthodox parties in Israel, influencing the government but not leading it.
Another key point not sufficiently highlighted in Israeli media is the importance of the generational shift taking place in Egypt and perhaps the entire Arab world. The old generation is increasingly being asked to give up its grip on power for the younger one. And although the story has not yet reached completion, the sense of national pride created by the revolution is overwhelming. Egypt once again sees itself as a great nation able once again, after a decade of steep decline, to lead the way for the entire Arab world.
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