Having been in power since 1981, Hosni Mubarak is Egypts longest serving ruler since Muhammad Ali in the 19th century. Although an economic liberal, Mubarak has been unsuccessful in instituting economic reform; Egypt continues to be plagued with high unemployment and low standards of living. Egypt, although best known as the land of the pyramids and the Nile, has played an increasingly important role as a peacekeeper. Post the Yom Kippur War in 1973 during the height of the oil crisis in the Middle East, it has served as a key mediator between Arab nations and the West. But, given the rapid rate at which the scent of the Jasmine Revolution is spreading, this may be the fatal blow to the key architect of Egypts political narrative, a man who has survived six assassination attempts over the last 30 years of rule.
The streets of Egypt have erupted in mass protests. People want change. Posturing, repeating platitudes, shuffling Cabinets and such acts of pacification are no longer sufficient to quell the rising anti-incumbency in the state. Interestingly, the Army has thus far remained pro-protesters, although what might happen should the Army decide to defend a President the citizens want ousted remains to be seen.
After 30 years of uninterrupted rule by one leader, the country, and the region at large, is at a turning point in its history. And at this key juncture, not even the West, which has typically been supportive of authoritarian regimes, is sure how to react, which way to hedge its bets, not wanting to end up on the wrong side of history. And history is in the process of being made, this much is sure.