On June 9th 1967; and in the aftermath of the six day war, President Nasser of Egypt went on television and announced his resignation from the presidency to the Egyptian people, holding full responsibility of the Arab defeat in the war; even before he had finished his speech, thousands of Egyptians invaded the streets across the country expressing their rejection of that resignation and their collective trust in Nasser, even after his leadership caused The worst and most humiliating defeat in history.
On the personal level, I'm not a great fan of Nasser's school of politics, but historical credibility has to give the man the justice in noting his personal integrity. The reason I'm mentioning this piece of history is its contrast with what is currently taking place in Egypt; Thousands have been protesting across the country for the 7th straight day calling for the resignation of Hosni Mubarak from office, and yet; he's refusing, despite the increasing number of protesters, and the joining of multiple representatives of the Egyptian social mosaic in the calls to his resignation: from representatives of the judiciary, to academics, to artists, to religious leaders, which gives a greater momentum to the movement with every passing day. There's a popular consensus on the rejection of Mubarak's remain in office, and this consensus is a declaration of popular divorce with the political system, The Egyptian regime lost the popular respect long before the events began last Tuesday, but it has sealed its fate -inadvertently- when the social contract between the people and the government was broken with the abandonment of the police and public security personnel of their responsibilities as soon as they felt their own security was at risk, rather than the people's.
The marvel of this revolt is that it is a totally spontaneous outburst of over-bottled feelings of injustice, fed across generations of political destitution, it was impossible to predict, nor does it have a limit to its aspirations; it is not the revolt of the political elite in which political bargain is laid on the table for the parties to discuss, but rather a revolt of the inexperienced youth on the status quo, with the full intent to change everything and everyone within their definition of the "status quo" which includes whole regimes, a historical precedence in Arab history. In 1968, the student revolt in France caused an infection similar to the Tunisian revolt across the world, despite France's historic pride in being the cradle of popular revolutions; that revolt managed to rock the stable boat of De Gaulle's 5th Republic, to the extent of forcing De Gaulle himself to briefly flee the country -which I think was what Bin Ali had in mind for a the first 5 minutes- and the dissolve of parliament and the call for new elections.
They say that History is the cruelest of all judges, Mubarak's days as president are numbered, and he's certainly not helping his own historical biography with his mulish behaviour. But the bottom line remains that 11 years into the 21st century, it's about time for Arab change to begin, from the least expected sector, in the least expected manner, taking the least expected amount of time, answering yet redefining Condi Rice's prediction of the emergence of a New Middle East, with the Lebanon war of 2006 as its Birth Pangs, but the new born seems to have surprised even the best doctors in the world, with its belonging to its biological parents, rather than its prospective adopters.