According to a recent New York Times article, Egyptian reactions to his announcement were not positive but quite the opposite. Protestors have called for his immediate resignation, but Mubarak's announcement seems to be an unacceptable compromise; one that could in fact result in him retaining power beyond the fall elections. Most likely, the negative reactions to his announcement signify that Egyptians are well aware of this possibility.
Egyptian presidential elections are months and months away, giving the Mubarak government plenty of time to allow popular resentment to subside. In that time, Mubarak can reassess his position, reestablish control, squash dissent, and build foreign support for the continuance of his regime. While Nobel laureate and former head of the United Nation's International Atomic Energy Agency , Mohamed ElBaradei, is seen widely as one of the opposition leaders who could assume power, it isn't at all clear who will actually fill the vacuum should Mubarak step down. In fact, the Muslim Brotherhood, a longtime Islamist political group, has been singled out by some Western-backed leaders as an undesirable potential replacement to the current government. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel is one leader who's recently raised concern that a Western-friendly government may not rise from the ashes of Mubarak's downfall, suggesting that there is a market in which the appeal of sticking with the current regime can be shopped and sold. Of course, Netanyahu's comments may be more reflective of his concern that a new Egypt will be less Israeli-friendly than that it would be less Western-friendly. I don't believe most international leaders would view the West and Israel as one-in-the-same.
While, at present, Mubarak may not truly intend to give up power in eight months, his announcement should give his government, as well as others, some breathing room and additional time to analyze what this uprising is all about. Governments around the world may find that this is a grassroots, peaceful, and popular movement toward real democracy, led by an educated and cosmopolitan demographic. Egypt is not Iraq, it is not Iran, and it is definitely not the sharia-law based Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Egypt has been a leader in the Middle East for decades, and has had a Western-influenced populace for years. In the wake of Iraq and Afghanistan, a peaceful domestic-led movement toward democracy in one of the Middle East's most stable countries doesn't sound so bad...actually, I thought that's what we've been waiting for?
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