As I write this, events in Egypt continue to unfold. Mubarak has just named a new Prime Minister after having removed the entire cabinet in an attempt to appease rioting mobs. So far this has failed to halt the rioting. Inspired by revolution in Tunisia and fueled by Islamist opponents of the nationalist regimes, people have taken to the streets in Egypt and against other regimes throughout the Middle East, seeking not reforms, but regime change.
Friends, this is a crisis situation for Israel. Should the regime in Egypt fall either to a new populist regime or to an Islamist one, relations between Israel and Egypt could be dramatically worsened. Commentators, including Barry Rubin whose analysis of this situation should be read by all concerned, are fearful.
This is a situation in which Mubarak, as bad as he may be, and his regime, as bad as it may be with or without him personally, appear to be substantially better for Israel and the West than the alternatives. Should the Mubarak regime fall and a democratic government take over and should that government prove to be one that is a friend to the West and an ally of Israel, it would be wonderful. However, it appears much more likely that should the regime fall either Israel will be faced with a hostile populist regime or an Islamist one and either would be allied with Hamas, meaning that either would also be much worse for the Palestinian Authority as well.
The best case scenario might be one in which Mubarak removes himself from office, but in which his regime as a whole remains in place, all the while enacting substantial new democratic reforms that will encourage the development of new moderate leaders. Short of this scenario, there may be no good outcome.
The coming days may be telling ones for the future of peace in the region.
For Egypt to suddenly become hostile to the United States and Israel would be disastrous.