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Professor Assaad shares his expertise

In the wake of escalating violence he Humpghrey School's Professor Ragui Assaad has offered his expertise and advice to many local media outlets.

Commentary features by Minnesota Public Radio: (listen to audio here)

Developments in Egypt have been so dramatic and have moved so fast in the past few days that I am engulfed in conflicting emotions about what is happening there.

On the one hand, I am elated and excited about the potential for democratic change made possible by ordinary people losing their fear of a repressive regime and going to the streets to demand its ouster.

On the other hand, I am filled with apprehension at the potential for chaos and violence. I worry about family members and friends who are having to fend off a wave of looting and vandalism unleashed by a police force that simply vanished from the scene.

The uprising has already achieved a great deal. President Hosni Mubarak has given up on his ambition to pass on the mantle of power to his son Gamal. By appointing a vice president for the first time in 30 years, he acknowledged the impossibility of the inheritance scenario.

Mubarak is trying to suggest that he is willing to enact reforms. But he has appointed a vice president and a prime minister who both have prominent military backgrounds. He seems to be trying to aiming to please the military, rather than the protesters.

These changes will never satisfy the crowds in the streets. These measures will become meaningful only if they pave the way for Mubarak's own exit. If Mubarak leaves, the protesters might be willing to grant the military a chance to usher the country toward democratic elections.

The military appears unwilling to fire on the protesters. The repressive internal security forces are off the street. In my view, the demonstrators have gained the upper hand.

The disappearance of those security and police forces from the streets of Cairo on Friday night may have been a tactic to frighten the middle and upper classes into clamoring for their return. If so, the tactic failed when neighbors organized to protect their families and property. The people simply refused to let themselves be terrorized.

They see that the game is over for the Mubarak regime. Now it's time for the Obama administration to acknowledge as much. It has been trying to hedge its bets by appearing tough on Mubarak, yet stopping short of pulling the plug on his regime in case he survives.

The administration should quit prevaricating and take a clear position in line with the principles America stands for. It should help nudge Mubarak into the dustbin of history. That is the only way to gain the future trust and friendship of the Egyptian people.


Ragui Assaad, a professor of international development at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs, spends three to four months a year conducting research in his native Egypt. He is a source in MPR's Public Insight Network.

ABC News, 02/01/11, Egypt president Mubarak is 'making the whole country pay the price'

KSTP, 01/31/11, Unrest in egypt could affect local gas prices

Minnesota Daily, 01/31/11, Protests, pressure mount in egypt

Minn Post, 01/31/11, Behind the turmoil in egypt: angry young people who expected more

Council on Foreign Relations, 02/14/11, Demographics of Arab Protests

Council on Foreign Relations, 02/16/11, Top of agenda: violent protest erupt in libya

Fox 9, 02/04/11 Professor predicts democracy for egypt

Brookings, 02/23/11, How will tunisia's jasmine revolution affect the arab world?

American Public Media, 02/02/11 Egypt bank closures halt remittances

Spiegel Online International, 02/03/11, No quick fix for arab youth's economic woes

Knowledge Wharton, 02/02/11, Uprising in egypt: rebirth in an ancient land?

CNN, 02/02/11, Inside the numbers: the frustration of a generation

KSTP, 01/30/11, How egyptian protests could impact minn.

The National, 02/09/11, No quick fix for economic malaise of many Arab countries

Sify News, 02/06/11, Egypt's divided military will want mubarak to go with dignity

The New York Times, 02/05/11, Egypt stability hinges on a divided military

Today online, 01/31/11, Suleiman likely to please military, not crowds

Oneinida News, 01/30/11, Mubarak's appointment Suleiman as VP likely to appease military, not people: Analysts

Hindustan Times, 01/31/11, Suleiman may please military, not public

Turthout, 02/23/11, US-financed egyptian military orchestrating attacks on protesters

The Gleaner, 02/06/11, Egypt at is red sea

Yahoo News, 02/03/11, The youth unemployment bomb

The Telegraph, 02/23/11, Even if the fires raging in the middle ease raze its authoritarian regimes, little will change

The Daily Reckoning by Bill Bonner, 02/09/11, Problems of unemployed youth deepen

NDTV, 02/01/11, Egypt crisis: A million protesters march into tahrir square in cairo

Guardian.co.uk, 01/30/11, Egypt protest-as they happened

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