On Friday morning, Tarek Anous, a research assistant in physics, stepped out of class to receive a phone call from his mother. She was calling from Egypt with the news: Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak had resigned.
“I began sprinting and yelling and making a fool of myself,” he said. “I returned to class and yelled to everybody that Mubarak had resigned.”
His classmates were surprised—the previous night Mubarak had refused to step down from his post, announcing instead that he would oversee government reforms. Less than 24 hours later—to the delight of Anous’s family—Mubarak resigned.
After 18 days of anti-government demonstrations, the Egyptian military seized power from Mubarak on Friday and has since reassured the Egyptian protesters that their demands will be met. Yesterday, a statement by the Supreme Council of Armed Forces dissolved the Egyptian parliament, suspended the nation’s constitution, and promised elections in six months.
The military has historically protected the status quo in Egypt, but despite its recent reassuring tone, some Egyptians are concerned there is almost no check on the military’s new power.
Anous said that it was his professor who tempered his high spirits Friday morning. “This is clearly not the end,” he reminded the class, according to Anous.
“The truth of the matter is that Mubarak himself was a military man, and we know the military helped him stay in power,” said Anous, who attended high school in Egypt. “At the same time every statement they have made has seemed to ring with the pulse of the streets.”
Anous said it was too early to determine whether the Egyptian military will follow through on its promises to meet the demands of the protesters’, but added that he personally believes that the military will keep its word.
“I think the Egyptian army is going to maintain stability,” Government and Sociology Professor Theda R. Skocpol said.Skocpol.
The United States has traditionally played a prominent role as a supporter and ally of Egypt, and Skocpol predicted it will continue to have a strong influence over the country’s future.
“[The Egyptian military will] go along with a transition that will satisfy the U.S., that a constitutional regime is in place,” she said.
The creation of a new constitution will play a central role in the transition to a new Egyptian government.
Skocpol highlighted the difficulty of creating a new constitution in a country with many different political groups.
“The protestors are not united, and that means those who are invited to frame a new constitution will come from diverse sources because there is no one opposition group—there are a lot.”
Pundits have voiced concerns that the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamic political party that has been officially banned since 1954, will play a strong role in writing a new constitution. While some say the Muslim Brotherhood should be left out of discussions about Egypt’s future, Skocpol disagrees.
“If [the Muslim Brotherhood] is excluded in any way, that will set the stage for a much worse outcome in my opinion,” she said. “They will turn to armed resistance that a fragile constitutional order may not be able to withstand. But they are not strong enough to take over the constitutional discussion, so the best thing is to include them.”
She added that the Obama administration will most likely support the inclusion of the Muslim Brotherhood in constitutional discussion and predicted the move will spark controversy in the U.S.
“I think the competing Republicans will yell about it, so the real drama will be just as much in American politics as it will be in Egyptian politics.“
—Staff writer Julia L. Ryan can be reached at email@example.com.