Hosni Mubarak came to power amid crisis three decades ago as a symbol of stability. Now, as he prepares to end his reign, Mubarak is seen by many as a source of Egypt’s chaos.
Crowds in Cairo, Alexandria and other cities across Egypt erupted into a pandemonium of cheers and waving flags. They danced, hugged and raised their hands in prayer after Vice President Omar Suleiman made the announcement on national TV just after nightfall. Some fell to kiss the ground, and others chanted, “Goodbye, goodbye” and “put your heads up high, you’re Egyptian.”
Israel is monitoring the situation carefully, worried that a 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel could be in danger. Israel quickly demanded on Friday that post-Mubarak Egypt continue to adhere to the treaty. Any break in the treaty seems unlikely in the near future: The Eghyptian military leadership supports the treaty. However, anti-Israeli feeling is strong among Egyptians and future ties may be strained. The treaty has kept peace after three wars in the past half-century.