Protesters Challenge Cairo Army

Mubarak is gone, but the revolution remains, at least for now. Protesters clashed with soldiers, who cleared most of them from Tahrir Square.

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu , | updated: 11:46 AM

Egyptian protesters in Cairo
Egyptian protesters in Cairo
Israel news photo: Wikimedia Commons, Banyan

Hosni Mubarak is gone as president, but the revolution remains - at least for now. The military is in full control in Egypt, where it clashed with protesters after clearing Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Many citizens have returned to work for the first time in two weeks.

Hundreds of thousands of people had filled the square the past two weeks, demanding the ouster of now former-Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and implementation of reforms for a democratic Egypt. Mubarak quickly became the principle symbol of protesters' anger, and there even have been calls for his death sentence for corruption.

With Mubarak out of office, the people’s revolution has run out of steam as the military fills a vacuum of power, but thousands of opponents, fearing that the military will be a carbon copy of Mubarak's rule, say they are determined to remain in the square until reforms are instituted.

The Egyptian military issued a statement saying it will act as a caretaker government, promising "a peaceful transition of authority in a free democratic framework which allows an elected civilian authority to rule the country, to build a free democratic country.”

Theoretically, elections must be held in 60 days, but the military’s emergency legal takeover supersedes stipulations in the Egyptian constitution.

Soldiers surrounded Tahir Square on Sunday and opened the area to traffic, sometime forcefully but without the brutal violence used by police in the early days of the protests.

The demonstrations prior to the downfall of Mubarak were spontaneous and leaderless, spurred by the revolution in Tunisia. Mohammed ElBaradei, the former director of the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency, belatedly encouraged the revolution but said from the outset he was not interested in succeeding Mubarak.

The revolutionary movement severely crippled Egypt's economy, especially the tourism industry, a factor that has dampened enthusiasm of continue mass protests. “'We are hungry, we want to eat, we want to work,'" businessman Ayman el Myonir told CNN.

One factor absent in the dramatic events in Egypt is Israel, which many advisors in the Obama administration have blamed as reason for most problems in the Middle East because of the failure of the Palestinian Authority to reach an agreement with the Jewish state. The “Arab-Israeli struggle" was barely mentioned during the two weeks of protests in Egypt.

Many demonstrators brought Israel into their agenda by demanding that Egypt break the peace treaty that was established with Israel on 1979, in which Israel surrendered the Sinai Peninsula. The military has declared it will not tamper with the treaty.

The fall of the Mubarak regime has left the area prone to a de facto takeover of Bedouin and Hamas terrorists, many of whom have operated from Gaza.