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The eyes of the world are now on Egypt. After 18 days of mass demonstrations by hundreds of thousands of Egyptian youths, Hosni Mubarak resigned his presidency and handed command of the country to the military. As Mr Mubarak left Cairo for his home in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, protesters responded to the news of his departure by cheering, waving flags, embracing and sounding car horns.
The protests throughout cities in the Arab state has been causing havoc and disrupting people's daily lives. Following this extraordinary development, it is hoped that the Egyptian military, government and its people will make every effort to maintain social stability and restore normal order.
It is believed Egypt has the wisdom and capacity to find proper solutions to overcome the current crisis. Social stability should be of overriding importance. Any political changes will be meaningless if the country falls prey to chaos in the end.
Given Egypt's status as a major Arab power of pivotal strategic importance, if the current situation continues to deteriorate, it will not only be nightmarish for the 80 million Egyptians, but also perilous to regional peace and stability.
The upheavals in Egypt have drawn international concern about the impact on the Middle East peace process. As a major country in the Arab world and in Africa, Egypt's stability concerns peace and stability in the whole region.
With the peace talks between the Palestinians and Israelis mired in stalemate, developments in Egypt could alter the peace process positively or negatively.
However, what is happening in Egypt is an internal affair. It should be resolved without foreign interference. Foreign intervention would not serve the interests of the Egyptian people, it would merely expand foreign influence and interests in the African country.
Rising food prices and the unemployment rate amid slow recovery from economic crisis are believed to be among the major culprits that caused the ongoing social upheavals in Egypt, and according to a report released last week by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), upward pressure on world food prices shows no signs of abating and is likely to persist in the months to come.
It is developing countries, especially low-income countries that are bearing the brunt of high food prices and globally loose monetary stance. The looming food crisis could trigger political instability that would in turn bring more suffering to the people.
(China Daily 02/12/2011 page5)