Tear gas on the streets of Cairo

CAIRO, Egypt — Only time will tell if Tuesday’s “Day of Rage” protests in Egypt produce the sort of long-lasting social upheaval that would threaten President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year reign. But whatever the long-term outcome, the protests have already moved the Arab world’s most populous nation into uncharted waters, proving that nothing in the Middle ...

MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images
MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images
MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images

CAIRO, Egypt — Only time will tell if Tuesday's "Day of Rage" protests in Egypt produce the sort of long-lasting social upheaval that would threaten President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year reign.

But whatever the long-term outcome, the protests have already moved the Arab world's most populous nation into uncharted waters, proving that nothing in the Middle East may be the same again after the waves of civil unrest that drove Tunisian dictator Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali from power in one breathtaking month.

CAIRO, Egypt — Only time will tell if Tuesday’s “Day of Rage” protests in Egypt produce the sort of long-lasting social upheaval that would threaten President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year reign.

But whatever the long-term outcome, the protests have already moved the Arab world’s most populous nation into uncharted waters, proving that nothing in the Middle East may be the same again after the waves of civil unrest that drove Tunisian dictator Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali from power in one breathtaking month.

For starters, there was the sheer size of the turnout, which was larger than anything I’ve seen in 13 years of covering Egyptian protests. Tuesday was the first time I’ve ever been in a situation where the protesters potentially outnumbered riot police on the ground.

Read more.

Ashraf Khalil is a Cairo-based journalist. This article is an edited excerpt of his book, Liberation Square: Inside the Egyptian Revolution and the Rebirth of a Nation.

More from Foreign Policy

An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.
An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.

Is Cold War Inevitable?

A new biography of George Kennan, the father of containment, raises questions about whether the old Cold War—and the emerging one with China—could have been avoided.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.

So You Want to Buy an Ambassadorship

The United States is the only Western government that routinely rewards mega-donors with top diplomatic posts.

Chinese President Xi jinping  toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.
Chinese President Xi jinping toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.

Can China Pull Off Its Charm Offensive?

Why Beijing’s foreign-policy reset will—or won’t—work out.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.

Turkey’s Problem Isn’t Sweden. It’s the United States.

Erdogan has focused on Stockholm’s stance toward Kurdish exile groups, but Ankara’s real demand is the end of U.S. support for Kurds in Syria.