Seventeen days after Egyptians first took to the streets to protest the autocratic regime of President Hosni Mubarak, it looked like they would finally get what they wanted. Reports coming out of Egypt earlier today suggested that Mubarak would soon step down. Some reports suggested he would hand power to Vice President Omar Suleiman, while others said the military would take control of the country. (Mubarak has since spoken to the Egyptian people, and did not resign.) Here's how commentators considered the ramifications of Mubarak's imminent exit:
This may not mean greater freedom: Mubarak's resignation would be a symbolic victory for the protestors, says Jay Bookman at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. But "we won’t know for months — and perhaps years — whether that translates into greater freedom and democracy for the Egyptian people." The military will likely take command of the country, and "once they have power, they have a way of growing too fond of it."
"Mubarak stepping down as military moves to fill vacuum"
In fact, more chaos could be round the corner: If these reports are accurate, says Peter Feaver at Foreign Policy, "it appears to be a coup, or at least the start of one." That means more instability. Mubarak could "launch a counter-coup," and we could see "fighting between pro-Mubarak security forces and anti-Mubarak military forces." Worse yet, a coup could further inflame the protest movement. This isn't over yet.
"Does the Egyptian military's move qualify as a coup?"
What will the White House do? The Obama administration has so far praised the military for its "restraint," says Ben Smith at Politico. But, with this news, the president faces a "complicated" dilemma: Should he greet the presumed takeover as a "step toward transition," or warn that "it could be the end of the transition"?
"More choices in Egypt"
Note: This story was updated at 4:04 p.m. on February 10, 2011.