Mubarak steps down; Military takes control of Egypt

Anti-government protesters, and Egyptian soldiers on top of their vehicles, make traditional Muslim Friday prayers at the continuing demonstration in Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo, Egypt Friday, Feb. 11, 2011. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)Egypt exploded with joy, tears, and relief after President Hosni Mubarak resigned as president, forced out by 18 days of mass protests that culminated in huge marches Friday on his presidential palaces and state television. The military took power after protesters called for it to intervene and oust their leader of three decades.

“The people ousted the regime,” rang out chants from crowds of hundreds of thousands massed in Cairo’s central Tahrir Square and outside Mubarak’s main palace several miles away in a northern district of the capital.

The crowds in Cairo, the Mediterranean city of Alexandria and other cities around the country danced, chanted “goodbye, goodbye,” and raised their hands in prayer in an ecstatic pandemonium as fireworks and car horns sounded after Vice President Omar Suleiman made the announcement on national TV just after nightfall.

“Finally we are free,” said Safwan Abou Stat, a 60-year-old in the crowd of protesters at the palacer. “From now on anyone who is going to rule will know that these people are great.”

Mubarak had sought to cling to power, handing some of his authorities to Suleiman while keeping his title. But an explosion of protests Friday rejecting the move appeared to have pushed the military into forcing him out completely. Hundreds of thousands marched throughout the day in cities across the country as soliders stood by, besieging his palace in Cairo and Alexandria and the state TV building. A governor of a southern province was forced to flee to safety in the face of protests there.

His fall came 32 years to the day after the collapse of the shah’s government in Iran.

The protests have already echoed around the Middle East, with several of the region’s autocratic rulers making pre-emptive gestures of democratic reform to avert their own protest movements. The lesson many took: If it could happen in three weeks in Egypt, where Mubarak’s lock on power had appeared unshakeable, it could happen anywhere.

The United States at times seemed overwhelmed trying to keep up with the pace, fumbling to juggle its advocacy of democracy and the right to protest, loyalty to longtime ally Mubarak and fears of Muslim fundamentalists gaining a foothold. Neighoring Israel watched the development with growing unease, worried that their 1979 peace treaty could be in danger. It quickly demanded on Friday that post-Mubarak Egypt continue to adhere to it.

Friday was the biggest day of protests yet in the upheaval that began Jan. 25. The movement grew for the Internet organizing of small groups of youth activists into a mass movement that tapped into widespread discontent with Mubarak’s authoritarian lock on power, corruption, economic woes and widespread disparities between rich and poor.

The question now turned to how the military, long Egypt’s most powerful institution and now its official ruler, will handle the transition in power. Earlier in the day, the Armed Forces Supreme Council — the military’s top body — vowed to guide the country to greater democracy. State TV said a new statement by the military would be issued Friday evening.

Vice President Suleiman — who appears to have lost his post as well in the military takeover — appeared grim as he delivered the short announcement.

“In these grave circumstances that the country is passing through, President Hosni Mubarak has decided to leave his position as president of the republic,” he said. “He has mandated the Armed Forces Supreme Council to run the state. God is our protector and succor.”

Nobel Peace laureate Mohammed ElBaradei, whose young suporters were among the organizers of the protest movement, told The Associated Press, “This is the greatest day of my life.”

“The country has been liberated after decades of repression,” he said adding that he expects a “beautiful” transition of power.

Outside Mubarak’s Oruba Palace in northern Cairo, women on balconies ululated with the joyous tongue-trilling used to mark weddings and births.

“Finally we are free,” said Safwan Abo Stat, a 60-year-old in the crowd of protesters at the palace. “From now on anyone who is going to rule will know that these people are great.”

Another, Mohammed el-Masry, weeping with joy, said he had spent the past two weeks in Tahrir before marching to the palace Friday. He was now headed back to the square to join his ecstatic colleagues. “We made it,” he gasped.

Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press

8 Responses to "Mubarak steps down; Military takes control of Egypt"

  1. Carl Nemo  February 11, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    “Military takes control of Egypt”…extract from leadline

    This means that our government via our CIA and State Department are still firmly in control. They are already packing the suitcases loaded with freshly printed C-notes to be delivered by our government “bag men” to these faceless military leaders.

    It’s my suspicion that the opression, jailing and torture of the Egyptian people will continue in earnest. We’ve done this in Iran training their infamous Savak to do such, Greece in the sixties, Italy post WWII and a hundred other places around the world. Little do the Egyptian people realize they’ve fallen from the frying pan into the fire.

    Our power junkies in charge are committed to maintain “Empire Americanus” at all costs even if it means the destruction of the Empire in the end. It’s a historical pattern repeated over and again. It’s a sickness for which there’s no cure shy of revolution and war that takes out such an aggressor gone rogue or it fails systemically under its own inefficiencies and terminal debt load.

    Carl Nemo **==

    • Almandine  February 11, 2011 at 2:53 pm

      Maybe, but most of what I’ve read says the military is not the peoples’ problem, it’s the police. The military seem to offer needed protection.

  2. woody188  February 11, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    This sure puts egg on Obama and Billary’s face. So much for slow democratic reforms.

    I’d expect Israel to retake Gaza as a “security measure” now that the Egyptian military is too busy to respond or maintain border security.

  3. griff  February 11, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    How about another take…William Grigg – lets play name that arab despotism

    • Carl Nemo  February 11, 2011 at 9:15 pm

      Thanks for the further enlightening link concerning Egypt and its past Griff. I enjoy Grigg’s writings and thought processes. It will be interesting to see if he, myself and others call it right in that the Egyptian people are in for more of the same in spades.

      We need to disengage from Egyptian politics as well as that of supporting many members of the “Arab League” and Israel with bribes courtesy of U.S. Tax slaves in hopes of ‘stabilizing the region’. We’re so bad off financially we have to borrow money from China et al. for even the bribe in these times. Oops I forgot Bernanke via the U.S. Treasury has a “printing press” that creates money out of thin air. Even bribery is suffering from the onslaught of inflation gone wild. / : |

      Carl Nemo **==

      • griff  February 12, 2011 at 12:32 am

        Some one once said…I think, thererfore I am.

        • Carl Nemo  February 12, 2011 at 12:53 am

          More appropriately in these times…”I think, therefore I am miserable”… / : |

          Carl Nemo **==

          • griff  February 12, 2011 at 1:15 am

            Hahahaha…Indeed! Not for the faint of heart, for sure.

            “For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it might cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it. ” – Patrick Henry

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