Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei says that it would be "absurd" for the United States and other nations to continue to support the government of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and that he is "humbled" by the bravery and resolve of protesters who continue to stand against the regime.
In an op-ed published Friday in The New York Times, ElBaradei writes that Egypt's "Orwellian" regime, that has denied basic freedoms and imprisoned tens of thousands of political dissidents, has been a "ticking bomb," and called for the ousting of President Mubarak and his government, the dissolution of the parliament (which he says is not representative of the people), and the drafting of a new constitution to be put to public referendum.
What needs to happen, he writes, "is a peaceful and orderly transition of power, to channel the revolutionary fervor into concrete steps for a new Egypt based on freedom and social justice."
ElBaradei credits Egypt's youth for circumventing the nation's repressive "emergency law" (which denies peaceable assembly) by using social networking tools. He writes, "Young Egyptians, gazing through the windows of the Internet, have gained a keener sense than many of their elders of the freedoms and opportunities they lack. They have found in social media a way to interact and share ideas, bypassing, in virtual space, the restrictions placed on physical freedom of assembly. . . .
"Propelled by a passionate belief in democratic ideals and the yearning for a better future, they have long been mobilizing and laying the groundwork for change that they view as inevitable."
Though the recent uprising was not a sudden spark of inspiration, ElBaradei credits the swift fall of Tunisia's autocratic leader and his regime with providing the impetus for protests that began in Cairo on January 25. He says the tipping point was the ousting of Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, which gave Egyptian's political opposition the insight: Yes, we can, too.
"These young leaders are the future of Egypt," ElBaradei says. "They are too intelligent, too aware of what is at stake, too weary of promises long unfulfilled, to settle for anything less than the departure of the old regime. I am humbled by their bravery and resolve.
"Many, particularly in the West, have bought the Mubarak regime's fiction that a democratic Egypt will turn into chaos or a religious state, abrogate the fragile peace with Israel and become hostile to the West. But the people of Egypt - the grandmothers in veils who have dared to share Tahrir Square with army tanks, the jubilant young people who have risked their lives for their first taste of these new freedoms - are not so easily fooled."
ElBaradei challenged the U.S. and other Western governments to end their support of the Mubarak government in the name of shoring up democracy. "Now that the youth of Cairo, armed with nothing but Facebook and the power of their convictions, have drawn millions into the street to demand a true Egyptian democracy, it would be absurd to continue to tacitly endorse the rule of a regime that has lost its own people's trust."