Big news out of Egypt today. In roughly thirty seconds Vice-President Omar Suleiman announced on State television that President-Dictator Hosni Mubarak has finally "chosen" to step down from power. He also informed the world that the Egyptian army will be temporarily "taking charge" of the nation's affairs while the "democratic transition" is being prepared.
No-one knows exactly where the situation will lead from here, but what has been achieved is already historic in content. The Arab world is starting to free itself from Western imperialism as people around the world watch in awe. This is possibly the last region on Earth we expected a revolution of this proportion to erupt. Now that it has achieved its initial goal (remove Mubarak), the revolution will continue as long as freedom remains the ideal. Even better, Egyptians are not alone in their fight; pro-democracy associations are mobilizing across the Middle-East to spark the same outrage that toppled Ben Ali and Mubarak. Important precedents have been set, and perhaps for once history will have the courtesy to repeat itself.
To take one example, Algerian "civil associations, independent trade unionists and small political parties" have called for a "national day of protest" on Saturday despite an official ban being imposed on demonstrations. The call is to "Change the system" and demand the exit of "12 years of authoritarian rule" of Abdelaziz Bouteflika and his military associates. Scared to death, Bouteflika has tried to buy out the potential protesters by promising cosmetic changes that would not alter the basic mechanisms of his institutionalized dictatorship. Of course nobody is being fooled by the promises of a tyrant, but conditions of protest in Algeria may turn out to be less favorable than in Egypt, according to Mansouria Mokhefi (Maghreb analyst at the French Institute of International Relations), because "the army is much stronger [...] all-powerful, holding the reins of power, both political and economic. The army has a long experience of repression and they didn't hold back during the protests in January". (The Guardian, 11/2/2011). The enemy is powerful, but the will of the people can bring any form of oppression to its knees. Let's wait and see.