The whole world is watching Egypt as the Egyptian people make their collective voice heard. All bets are off as to what is going to happen, but it is clear that a new day is dawning, not just in Egypt but in the whole Middle East.
It's looking more and more like President Hosni Mubarak, the 82 year old head of state who has been in power since the assassination of Anwar Sadat in 1981, will be spending his sunset years somewhere other than Egypt--but who knows. The situation is, as they say, " fluid." What is most obvious is that change is in the air, fueled by a population of educated young people with dreams but no hope and orchestrated by them using cell phones and social media.
I can't help but think that the internet is having the same kind of profound effect on the world that the invention of the printing press and the publication of the Gutenberg Bible had in the Sixteenth century. Without Gutenberg there would have been no Protestant Reformation, no Eighteenth Century Enlightenment, no Age of Reason, and perhaps, no United States of America. Without the internet what is happening in Egypt could never have been undertaken in the first place, let alone be watched by the entire world as it unfolds.
Two weeks ago it was all about Tunisia, where another strongman, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali succumbed to the fury of his people--making a hasty departure to Saudi Arabia with his wife and a chunk of the national treasury. . Things are still pretty unsettled in Tunis where 33 members of Ben Ali's family are under arrest and where an international arrest warrent has been issued for Ben Ali and his wife.
This week it has been all about Egypt. It started with an announcement on Facebook and quickly moved to Twitter. I watched a revolution unfold in my Twitter stream. Soon internet and cellphone contact was cut off by the Egyptian government, yet the youthful protestors still managed to post videos and tweets. Everyone in the world with access to the internet or a TV watched the crowds of hundreds of thousands and the mayhem that took place in Egyptian Streets. Journalists and tourists, students and citizens were all caught up in it. . Heads of State scrambled, issuing measured statements. Pundits pondered and gawkers gawked.
There are crowds and demonstrations in the streets of Turkey,Yemen and Algeria and heads are not resting easy in Libya or Jordan either. Nobody knows where this is going and everyone is waiting for the other shoe to drop.
But what happens in Egypt is pivotal. Egypt, one of the world's most ancient nations, is the heart of the MIddle East. If the Army sides with the people, the regime will fall. If it does not, there will be a slower, more orderly transition to some other form of government.... either way, Mubarak is toast ( whether he knows it or not) and either way, the genie is out of the bottle and can't be put back in.
What happens in Egypt in the next few days will definitely spread beyond the borders of Egypt. Once the people have spoken, they cannot be ignored and in Egypt and other parts of the MIddle East, young people who want a better future are finding their voices.