|From protest to revolution|
The popular uprising in Egypt is still less than three weeks old. We still cannot know how it will end - whether the ruling party will make some concessions and cling on to power within a new government - or whether a united opposition will sweep away Mubarak's apparatus. And we cannot tell what kind of regime will emerge.
The revolutions that overthrew the Soviet system in Central and Eastern Europe did not always empower the dissidents who risked the most in the struggle for freedom. Former secret policemen and their allies in organised crime often proved more adept in the years that followed than the idealists they once tormented.
But for all the uncertainty, Egypt has already shaken the region and the world. For those watching in Europe and the US, it has put an end to any lazy notion that the alternative to corrupt dictatorship in the Middle East is chaos or Islamic extremism. The worldly realists, with their regretful talk of the need for moderation, now stand exposed as power-worshipping fantasists. The Christians and Muslims crying "one hand, one hand", as they call for an end to Mubarak's tyranny have made a farce of decades of Western commentary and analysis.
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