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Tsunami of people power

THERE is an Egyptian proverb which states: "Do not rejoice over what has not yet happened." The crowds that gathered in Tahrir Square could have spared themselves some hardship had they borne this in mind as elation turned to despair as Hosni Mubarak refused to bow.

The news was all the sweeter yesterday when the man regarded as "the last Pharaoh" was finally swept away in a tsunami of people power.

These last few weeks have been momentous. Who could have predicted that when a restaurant owner set himself alight outside Cairo's house of parliament on Monday, January 10, it would be Mubarak's feet that would ultimately be scorched?

Police were able to douse the fire that threatened Abdo Abdelmoneim and he survived; the same can not be said for Mubarak's 30-year regime.

It was the classical case of the immovable object encountering the irresistible force.

As was widely predicted, the army has stepped into the breach and many observers are of the view that the outcome represents a military coup.

Throughout the tense standoff the military behaved admirably as they were thrust into the heart of an extremely explosive situation.

The anti-government protests that began on January 25 were triggered by widespread unrest over unemployment, poverty and corruption.

Mubarak's resignation still raises enormous questions about how the country will handle the transition to free elections in September. The results of these will ultimately define the country's future and relations with the West.

While Washington has encouraged and critics would even argue facilitated the change, there is deep anxiety in Israel over the loss of a key ally.

The alacrity with which the Obama administration jettisoned Mubarak has been regarded as extremely short-sighted and reckless in Tel Aviv. But Mubarak's exit will be greeted by mass relief by most world governments in the hope that it may have contained the contagion effect which threatens many other rulers in the region.

Irish Independent