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Yemen, Algeria, Syria, Jordan: Whose Turn Now?

Dubai, Feb 12: The euphoria that marked the downfall of dictator  Hosni Mubarak in Egypt reverberated to the people across the Arab and Muslim world, but stunned most of the regimes in the Middle East
PTI February 12, 2011 15:33 IST
PTI
Dubai, Feb 12: The euphoria that marked the downfall of dictator  Hosni Mubarak in Egypt reverberated to the people across the Arab and Muslim world, but stunned most of the regimes in the Middle East and beyond where autocratic rulers apparently calculated their own chances of survival.

People in Palestine, Jordan, Turkey, Yemen, Bahrain, Algeria, Lebanon, Syria and Iran greeted with fanfare the victory of people in Egypt by fireworks, honking horns, embracing and greeting each other with joy, but there was a stunned silence in the corridors of powers in most of the countries.

Most of the key Arab states including Saudi Arabia, Libya, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain which are monarchies and sheikhdoms are yet to respond to events in Egypt -- the most populated Arab country. China, without mentioning the unrest in detail, called for restoration of peace in Egypt after Mubarak's exit.

It has been just eight weeks since a young Tunisian vegetable seller Mohammad Bouazizi set himself on fire in the provincial town of Sidi, triggering a revolution which has toppled two powerful Arab regimes in Tunisia and Egypt.

Inspired by events in Tunsia and Egypt, groups are already rallying in Yemen, Algeria, Jordan and Bahrain. The people have been intensely following the unfolding of peoples' power in Egypt through satellite channels, social networking websites and papers.

Turkey, one of the largest Muslim democratic country, was the first to greet the events in Egypt with Prime Minister Rcecep Tayyip Erdogan congratulating the Egyptian people and urging the military to swiftly transfer power to the elected government.

In Doha, the ruling family of Qatar described the transition of power to military as positive and important and hoped that Egypt would regain the leading role in Arab and Muslim world.

The gas rich kingdom has earned the ire of its neighboring states including Egypt over the coverage of events by Al-Jazeera news channel which is part owned by the ruling family.

Saluting the Egyptian people, the Iranian government, which has broken off diplomatic ties with Cairo, described the Egyptian uprising as a great victory.

Iran's Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had earlier called for establishment of an Islamic regime in Egypt. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said a new Middle East was being carved out that would be free of "US and Israel."

Celebrations also erupted in Lebanon and Gaza. In Beirut and Gaza, people rushed into the streets handing out candy, setting of fireworks and shooting in the air.

Lebanon's Hezbollah, which has been at the receiving end of Mubarak, congratulated the Egyptians on the historic victory. The group said it was holding a massive popular celebration to mark the victory of the Egyptian people.

The downfall of Mubarak was also greeted in Tunisia where just weeks back a successful uprising expelled a long time leader. But the new government had no reaction.

In Amman, the Jordanian government said it respected the free choices of the Egyptian people, but the country's powerful Muslim Brotherhood faction said that Mubarak's downfall should serve as a lesson for other Arab regimes.

There were celebrations in Algeria and Bahrain too.

Political opponents of the regime have threatened similar rallies in these countries next week and the rulers are bracing to face these threats.

While the streets in most of the Arab capitals resounded to celebrations, there was apparent disquiet in Riyadh, Tripoli, Kuwait City and Emirates which have not reacted to events.

"There is absolute silence in these capitals," a leading Arab weekly said.

But the most telling reaction came from thousands who swarmed onto the streets of the Jordanian capital. They waved placards reading 'Long live Egypt, Goodbye Mubarak. The people have toppled the regime. Who is next?' PTI