Omar Sulieman recently announced Hosni Mubarak’s resignation as President of the Arab Republic of Egypt and his delegation of control to the Supreme Council of the Armed Services. While this is a tremendous victory for protesters, who have held steadfastly to their demands, this is really only the end of the beginning. In the coming weeks, months, and perhaps even years, we will see the unfolding of a new Egyptian state and it is far from clear what form it will take.
One of history’s great lessons is that revolutions are unpredictable, even to, and perhaps especially to, those who take part in them. Egypt will doubtless hold elections some time in the coming months, but as the Egyptian people well know, elections do not imply democracy. But it goes further than the provision of free and fair elections. The true hallmark of democracy is when those in power peacefully and orderly give it up having lost an election. We will not know the strength of the new Egyptian democratic character until a second fair election is held.
Whether the final settled state that emerges in Egypt will be a proper democracy or not, there is another area of concern. It is unclear that the underlying problems that plague Egypt and contributed to the unrest that ultimately forced a grudging Mubarak to leave the country will improve. Many of the issues that face Egypt are either deeply structural or outside the potential area of control of an Egyptian government. The Egyptian people have an unclear future ahead of them and in dealing with it, I wish them the best.