Egypt: Now What?

Egypt's military dictatorship, which began after a 1952 coup, retains official control of the country as its third dictator makes for the door. Hosni Mubarak's resignation is a huge success for the Egyptian people, but their demands for political reforms remain unheeded. Tonight, the Egyptian people revel in their success. Tomorrow, no doubt, they shift towards securing the victories that lie ahead.

While there were reportedly 20 million Egyptians partying in the streets, the international community's response was celebratory but measured. President Barack Obama praised the Egyptian people -- especially the youth at the forefront of the pro-democracy revolution -- but he hesitated to conjecture much on what lies ahead for Egypt and the rest of the region. "Egyptians have made it clear that nothing less than genuine democracy will carry the day," Obama said from the White House.

Some of the most apprehensive world leaders must be those of Israel, which has maintained a peace treaty with Egypt since 1979. Only three percent of Egyptians consider Israel favorably, while 92 percent view their neighbor to the northeast negatively. "We hope that the change to democracy in Egypt will happen without violence and that the peace accord will remain," a senior Israeli official said.

The Swiss government froze the assets of Mubarak and his family, in an attempt to ensure that state-owned assets are not misappropriated. According to the Swiss National Bank, Egyptian deposits totalled approximately $3.5 billion, as of the end of 2009.

Fears of an Islamist state taking root in Egypt are little more than echoes of a deposed dictator's talking points. First, the military is seen as dedicated to secularism, suggesting that any government under the military -- whether transitional or otherwise -- would reject the influence of Islamists. Moreover, American influence with the military's top ranks is thought to be significant. And in the case that democracy unfolds in Egypt, Adam Serwer points out that the Muslim Brotherhood is not terribly popular, receiving the support of only 15 percent of Egyptians in recent polling. That was before the Brotherhood looked out of touch with everyday Egyptians, as they waffled in the early days of the revolution. Prior to the revolution, the Brothers constituted the largest, organized opposition to the military dictatorship.