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International Affairs


The Revolution in Egypt: An ADL Briefing

Posted: February 3, 2011

                                      Updated: February 11, 2011

The announcement that President Mubarak has left office is an extraordinary historic development for Egypt and the Middle East.

 

On February 11, Vice President Omar Suleiman appeared on Egyptian television and declared:

 

"Taking into consideration the difficult circumstances the country is going through, President Mohammed Hosni Mubarak has decided to leave the post of president of the republic and has tasked the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to manage the state's affairs."

 

The demonstrations by the people of Egypt against the regime's authoritarianism and repression, and their demands for greater freedom, political accountability and transparency, have been inspiring to all who cherish democracy and liberty. 

 

It is undeniable that Egypt under President Hosni Mubarak and his predecessor, Anwar Sadat, has been a stabilizing force in the Middle East for decades.  As Israel's first Arab peace partner, it has been a linchpin, both publicly and behind the scenes, in managing conflicts between Israel and the Palestinians, between Arab states and between Palestinian factions.  

 

There are many unknowns at this time. In the short-term, it is uncertain what the new role of the military is and how they will govern.  A statement issued by the Egyptian military prior to Vice President Omar Suleiman's announcement of President Mubark's resignation, points to the military's determination to oversee the implementation of a political transition, including "ending the state of emergency once the present circumstances end," implement "constitutional amendments and holding a free and fair presidential election in line with the agreed constitutional amendments."  It remains to be seen in the coming hours and days, precisely how the Egyptian military will carry out its guarantees.

 

In the long-term, it is uncertain what kind of Egypt will emerge from this revolution.  At this time, the Muslim Brotherhood is the most organized opposition group, and there are questions of how prominent its roe will be in the transition and beyond, and how this will impact Egypt's policies, and its relations with the West and the State of Israel.

 

Following the jubilation in the streets, the people of Egypt must now channel their passion for change into the more difficult task of building the foundations for a true open, inclusive and stable democracy.  A truly democratic Egypt will involve the structural, legal, and political reforms, the building of democratic institutions with checks and balances, the growth of a vibrant civil society which is inclusive of minorities and tolerant of dissent.  

 

It is essential for the United States government and the international community to support peaceful transition in Egypt, and urge that those who manage this transitional period commit to sustaining regional stability, including through maintaining and enhancing peaceful relations and security cooperation with Israel

 

The Anti-Defamation League has been alert for manifestations of anti-Jewish or anti-Israel rhetoric.  To date, the key focus of protesters and spokespeople for the opposition has been on  democratization and economic issues and not on Israel and Jews.  There have been incidents of placards/protesters criticizing President Mubarak for his ties to Israel and the United States, and examples of protesters calling on Mubarak to leave Egypt "and go to Tel Aviv."  Some in the pro-regime faction made allegations that those behind the unrest are working for the Mossad.

ADL continues to monitor the situation.

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