non-violent Egyptian revolution bringing the Mubarak era to an end
may trigger fundamental changes in the Middle East with some
experts even predicting the end of the America era in the region.
"Washington will have to navigate a tricky course between backing
democracy and protecting its interests in the region," suggested
Washington think-tank Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).
"The end of Hosni Mubarak's regime in Egypt portends fundamental
change throughout the Middle East and the end of the American era
in the region," CFR's Steven Cook said.
A change in Egypt's government has also raised regional fears, the
think-tank suggested. "In Iran, Egypt's unrest has stoked tensions
between hardliners and the opposition movement."
Israel is fearful that the fall of Mubarak, who maintained the
cold peace forged between the two countries by then president
Anwar Sadat, could mean the rise of "a new Iran" across the
border, Aluf Benn wrote in Foreign Affairs.
For now, CFR President Richard Haass says Egypt's deep challenges
remain: "We're still talking about a political transition", he
told a CFR media conference call.
"Basic questions of pace, sequencing, legal questions, political
questions are all out there. The economic challenges as a result
of today will, if anything, probably grow slightly greater."
Some experts also questioned the latest turn of events and the
military's role going forward.
Stratfor think tank analysis argues a military takeover could
parallel the events of 1952, when the Free Officers Movement led
by Gamal Abdel Nasser, later president of Egypt, overthrew the
monarchy. Egypt's presidents since then have all come from the
While the army has tried to present itself as a neutral force so
far in the protests, it has also been "calling the shots" during
the arrests and intimidation that have accompanied the protests,
writes Daniel Williams of Human Rights Watch.
One outcome for Egypt's future, he says, could be "Mubarak-ism
without Mubarak, with military overseers preserving the old system
under a new guise".
Critics like CFR's Leslie H. Gelb say the Muslim Brotherhood could
be "calamitous" for US security. Others, including CFR's Ed Husain,
argue that "the Brotherhood in Egypt are open to being shaped by
partners, critics, and political reality".
CFR's Elliott Abrams says in ForeignPolicy.com that it's time for
the US "to bury the unreal, failed 'realism' of those who have
long thought that dictators brought stability. What we have seen
is that the stability they bring -- for years or even decades --
carries with it a curse".
James Carafano of the conservative think tank The Heritage
Foundation said "the situation in Egypt will likely remain dynamic
for weeks, months, or even years ahead".
"Furthermore, the Middle East may not have seen the last of
historic transformation," he said suggesting strong leadership
from the US is more important than ever.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at email@example.com)