Friday, February 11, 2011

End of Era in Mideast - Mubarak quits, Egyptians celebrate, Obama blesses, Israel cautious

End of an era: After more than two weeks of violent protests across Egypt, President Hosni Mubarak has resigned, Vice President Omar Suleiman announced in a brief TV appearance Friday evening.

"In these grave circumstances that the country is passing through, President Hosni Mubarak has decided to leave his position as president of the republic," a grim-looking Suleiman said. "He has mandated the Armed Forces Supreme Council to run the state".

A senior Israeli official expressed his hope that Mubarak's departure will bring no change to the Jewish state's peaceful relations with Cairo.

"It's too early to foresee how (the resignation) will affect things," the official said. "We hope that the change to democracy in Egypt will happen without violence and that the peace accord will remain."

President Obama lauded the protesters that have taken to the streets in over two weeks of unabated demonstrations and riots which culminated on Friday with the resignation of Mubarak, who has ruled the country for over 30 years.
"There are very few moments in our lives where we have the privilege to witness history taking place. This is one of those moments, The people of Egypt have spoken, their voices have been heard, and Egypt will never be the same.‬"
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden hailed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's exit from power on Friday as a "pivotal moment" for the Middle East.
"The transition that's taking place must be an irreversible change and a negotiated path toward democracy,What is at stake in Egypt and across the Middle East is not just about Egypt alone."
Labor Party Knesset Member Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said on Israel TV Friday that Mubarak had very tough things to say about the United States" in a 20-minute conversation on Thursday.
"He gave me a lesson in democracy and said: 'We see the democracy the US spearheaded in Iran and with Hamas, in Gaza, and that's the fate of the Middle East'....'They may be talking about democracy but they don't know what they're talking about and the result will be extremism and radical Islam,'" he quoted Mubarak as saying.

Ben-Eliezer said Mubarak expanded in the telephone call on "what he expects will happen in the Middle East after his fall."
"He contended the snowball (of civil unrest) won't stop in Egypt and it wouldn't skip any Arab country in the Middle East and in the Gulf.

"He said 'I won't be surprised if in the future you see more extremism and radical Islam and more disturbances - dramatic changes and upheavals."
"It's over, Egypt is no longer a superpower," former Israeli Ambassador to Cairo Zvi Mazel told Ynet. "Egypt has completely lost its status in the area, while Turkey and Iran are on the way up. It's a different world...As long as we had Mubarak, there was no void in our relations with the region. Now we're in big trouble," he said.
"Israel,had many reasons for concern From a strategic point of view, Israel is now facing a hostile situation. It's over, there is no one left to lead the pragmatic, moderate state."

"The familiar governmental framework of the past 30 years has dissolved, and it will take a year or two or three before a new regime rises to power".