The Egyptian people can be justifiably proud of themselves. They stood up to a dangerous regime and didn’t back down. But soon, victory will solidify into something more resembling defeat. Iran had its revolution against tyranny thirty years ago and the Ayatollahs came riding up the path they cleared and took power. The Lebanon spring turned into the Hezbollah harvest. Gaza voted to become Hamaza. Educated and secular Egyptians will tell you that the Muslim Brotherhood are not very popular and that the protests are not about them. That’s true. But they don’t need to be popular to either take power or to make a marionette out of some divided and disorganized democratic government. And with the people shouting “death to Israel” and the MBs calling for war with Israel, it is not hard to see Egyptians tolerating the MBs in order to achieve mutual goals, such as the extermination of the Copts and the stoning of adulterers. The Germans didn’t all think highly of the Nazis either but they gave them just enough tolerance to see them subvert their democracy.
So then, Egypt has a number of options. It may see a weak democracy emerge to become the MBs bitch. It may see the MBs take power all together, it may see a military coup. It may see Mubarak hold on long enough to rig the next election (he just announced he will not run again for election but the likelihood that this promise will be enough to take the wind out of the protest movement hardly seems strong).
The central trend in the Muslim world seems to be people wanting an end to the rule of secular dictators and, after working hard to achieve that, adapting to theocratic dictators. In the long term this may be a good thing. One of the places where theocracy is least popular among the young is Iran, which has lived with it for thirty years. In the short term, the world looks like it will be finding itself with many more refugees, terrorism, extremism and states waging war on Israel.
At least Mubarak won’t remain pharaoh and his kids won’t be given the country as an inheritance. And maybe, just maybe, the unrest will spread to Saudi Arabia. Now there is a nation that can’t get any worse.