The Resignation of Ahmad Shafiq
Today, the acting prime minister of Egypt, Ahmad Shafiq, resigned, and was replaced by `Isam Sharaf. The opposition’s successful insistence on the resignation of Shafiq indicates the depth and breadth of the revolution’s popular support and gives those of us who are hoping that the January 25th Revolution will result in a genuine democratic transformation an objective basis to believe that this goal will be achieved. Why is it so significant that Shafiq resigned in the face of popular pressure? In the wake of Mubarak’s resignation, a debate has raged in Egypt between those who describe the events of Jan. 25 as a revolution whose goals were to transform the nature of the Egyptian state and its relationship to the Egyptian people, and those who dismiss it as a revolt centered around succession, nothing more or less. Events subsequent to Mubarak have removed all doubts surrounding this question. The people want a revolution, not a change in succession. Shafiq’s resignation is clear proof that the revolutionary program is ascendant at this moment in time, and the Supreme Military Council remains substantially constrained by the popular will. Nor is it likely that there can be a return to the status quo ante. Even before Shafiq resigned, the fact that he was forced to appear on Egyptian talk shows and defend his statements before a skeptical host and confrontational guests means that the age of Egyptian authoritarianism, and with it Arab authoritarianism, is gone. At a minimum, Jan. 25th has put an end to that stage of Egyptian political development. We now have good reason to hope for real democratic reform and accountability.