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European press review: 'Keeping Mubarak in power can no longer be a priority'

As tourists were being evacuated and the military attempted to restore order to the streets of Cairo on Monday, European editorial writers agreed that time is running out for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

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European editorial writers were in full agreement on Monday: time is beginning to run out for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

The sun rises in Tunisia without ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, and Egypt will function without Mubarak, Hungary's Magyar Nemzet comments. The daily also takes a closer look at possible successors. "The Muslim Brotherhood would love to take over from the worn-out dictator, but it looks like they aren't in this game. Should Mubarak have to resign, [Mohamed] ElBaradei is a much more likely successor." The next Egyptian leader, the paper concludes, would then have to organize democratic elections and use democratic means to weaken the Islamist opposition.

But, as Poland's Gazeta Wyborcza points out, he who controls the secret services and the army is in power in the Arab world - and in Egypt, that is still Mubarak. Appointing intelligence chief Omar Suleiman as vice president was a smart move to secure the military's loyalty, the Polish paper writes: "The military can save Mubarak's neck in return for allowing one of [their own] to take power."

Paris-based Le Figaro also sees the Egyptian armed forces as being in a pivotal role . The West was hoping for a transition that would preserve the stability in Egypt and the fragile balance in the entire region, but the paper writes that the army must play a central role to guarantee the nation's continuation. "It also means that keeping Hosni Mubarak, the West's strategic ally in the Mideast, in power, can no longer be a priority," it says.

Other papers take a look at the role the West has played in the unrest in Egypt and Tunisia.

Mubarak was a guarantor for stability, an anchor for the Arab world, Germany's Süddeutsche Zeitung comments - but adds that stability couldn't be bought from the outside, especially if it was confounded with stagnation.

"Now, it is the Egyptians who will determine their future. The US and the democratic West have to shamefacedly admit that they have failed. For a cheap victory- a little stability, a little peace - they closed their eyes to the abuse of the most important political values," says the German daily. "The remnants of the Egyptian earthquake will be felt from Tangier to Teheran, in Rabat and Riad."

Spain's El Pais blasts the EU's foreign policy as a disgrace, commenting that the union has been too passive in the face of systematic human rights abuses in northern Africa. "The US has at least urged the countries currently experiencing a crisis to introduce reforms. Washington is working on regaining its status as an advocate for freedom rights, while the EU is on the fast track to losing that status."

Compiled by Dagmar Breitenbach
Editor: Martin Kuebler

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