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egypt

But let us remember, this happy Jubilee Day, how we loved Mubarak, how we courted him, praised him, listened to his advice, his thoughts on Islamism, his security boss’s fears of Islamist violence (a man called Omar Suleiman, I seem to recall, who wanted to be president until his name was chucked out by the parliament), and how we thought him a “peacemaker”. And now Egyptians wait to see whether Ahmed Shafiq, Mubarak’s old prime minister, will be the next president, or the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Mursi. After today, my Egyptian friends tell me, Shafiq is out. Well, we shall see. And if Mursi wins, won’t he be just as nice to the army as Shafiq? Too cynical? Revolutions don’t always end happily. Think 1789. Think 1917. Think Egypt 1952. I wrote 17 months ago that Egypt’s revolution against Mubarak was the happiest story I have ever written. It’s still true. Arabs, in their millions, overthrew a dictator. But I fear that, if the dictator has gone, the dictatorship has survived. The army runs Egypt today. And we, in the West, like armies. Washington likes armies. Robert Fisk

Americans have never fully appreciated what a radical thing we did — in the eyes of the rest of the world — in electing an African-American with the middle name Hussein as president. I’m convinced that listening to Obama’s 2009 Cairo speech — not the words, but the man — were more than a few young Arabs who were saying to themselves: “Hmmm, let’s see. He’s young. I’m young. He’s dark-skinned. I’m dark-skinned. His middle name is Hussein. My name is Hussein. His grandfather is a Muslim. My grandfather is a Muslim. He is president of the United States. And I’m an unemployed young Arab with no vote and no voice in my future.” I’d put that in my mix of forces fueling these revolts. Thomas Friedman

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