Egypt is free?
Surprising news after yesterday’s speech from Hosni Mubarak:
President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt turned over all power to the military, and left the Egyptian capital for his resort home in Sharm el-Sheik, Vice President Omar Suleiman announced on state television on Friday.
The announcement, delivered during evening prayers in Cairo, set off a frenzy of celebration, with protesters shouting “Egypt is free!”
The Egyptian military issued a communiqué pledging to carry out a variety of constitutional reforms in a statement notable for its commanding tone. The military’s statement alluded to the delegation of power to Mr. Suleiman and it suggested that the military would supervise implementation of the reforms. Mr. Mubarak “has charged the high council of the armed forces to administer the affairs of the country,” he said in his statement.
So the military takes control. I wonder if they forced his hand; Mark Kleiman notes that the “President of Egypt serves at the pleasure of the military.” The question now is whether the entire regime will fall, whether the military will usher in actual democratic reforms, or whether it will simply prop up a puppet regime. And of course the specter of Iran’s Islamic Revolution hangs over the whole thing – though I find reports of the Muslim Brotherhood mostly hysterical.