If anyone doubted that it was time for Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak to step down, Wednesday’s events should have persuaded them otherwise. After announcing on Tuesday evening that he had no intention of running for another term in September’s presidential elections, Mubarak turned to armed thugs to attempt to quash protests in major cities in an effort to give himself another eight months in power.
These developments make it even more important that the Obama administration send a clear and unequivocal message to Mubarak and the military leadership that it is time for a new government. Newly minted Vice President Suleiman and other senior officials are now complicit in the latest violence and will not be accepted as legitimate leaders by a majority of the people.
It is right to be concerned about what will emerge once Mubarak does hand over power, but the solution is not for conservatives to cling to the supposed stability represented by Mubarak. Mubarak is finished. As long as chaos and uncertainty reign, the more likely it will be that extremist elements in the Muslim Brotherhood or elsewhere take advantage of the situation, just as the Islamists did during Iran’s drawn-out revolution in 1978–79.
— Jamie M. Fly is executive director of the Foreign Policy Initiative.