Rejoice. Mubarak has gone.

But what comes next?

Rejoice, rejoice. The man who tortured and terrorised his people for 30 years; the man who used dogs to rape inmates of his prisons; the man who was propped up with $1.3bn of US military aid each year . . . He's gone. Resigned. Stood down. Toppled. By people power. God bless the brave people of Egypt, of Cairo's Tahrir Square, who have inspired us all.

Once they took to the streets on 25 January, it was only a matter of time. As the New Yorker's David Remnick pointed out in a blog post last night:

The delusions of dictators are never more poignant – or more dangerous – than when they are in their death throes. To watch Hosni Mubarak today in his late-night speech in Cairo, as he used every means of rhetorical deflection to delay his inevitable end, was to watch a man so deluded, so deaf to the demands of history, that he was incapable of hearing an entire people screaming in his ear.

But Mubarak has quit, leaving his vice-president, the former intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, in charge. So what happens now? The danger is that Mubarak may have gone but the Mubarak regime stays in office. Others, including the neoconservative commentator Douglas Murray, with whom I appeared on Question Time last night, worry that the Muslim Brotherhood will seize control of the country.

But as Olivier Roy, one of the world's experts on Islamism, points out in the New Statesman's cover story this week, these uprisings in the Arab world have not been led by Islamists; on the contrary, Islamists have come late to the party. And as Bruce Riedel, former CIA official and adviser to Presidents Bush and Obama, pointed out last month:

They [the Obama administration] should not be afraid of the Muslim Brotherhood. Living with it won't be easy but it should not be seen inevitably as our enemy. We need not demonise it nor endorse it. In any case, Egyptians now will decide their fate and the role they want the Ikhwan to play in their future.

I'm no fan of the Muslim Brotherhood, nor do I share its political or theological views, but I do think it is important that we try to understand the MB rather than just dismiss or denounce it. Try some of these links for a more informed and intelligent alternative to Murray's scaremongering:

– "Don't fear Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood", Brookings Institution

– "The Muslim Brotherhood after Mubarak", Foreign Affairs

– "The moderate Muslim Brotherhood", Foreign Affairs

– "The Muslim Brotherhood: should we engage?", New Statesman

– "Wolves or sheep?", Economist

– "Egypt can bring in the Brotherhood", Financial Times

– "What the Muslim Brothers want", New York Times

But the events in Egypt are about much more than the Muslim Brotherhood or the politics of Islamism in the Middle East. We are witnessing the glorious triumph of a peaceful and popular revolution in the most populous Arab country in the world. Let me end by once again quoting from Remnick's excellent blog post:

The drama is far from over and its course is far from predictable. But there is no doubt of its revolutionary importance to the Middle East. Saad Eddin Ibrahim, who was among the most prominent activists to spend time in Mubarak's prisons, told me the other day that the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt were proof that Arabs – particularly young Arabs – want no less than what other people want. They refuse powerlessness, they refuse kleptocracy, they demand the rule of law. "This is a revolution of the 21st century," he told me. "It is a young person's revolution, and we can only hope that it will not be stolen, somehow, by an older generation or a newer Mubarak. We have to hope this empowerment will transform the Arab world.

Mehdi Hasan is a contributing writer for the New Statesman and the co-author of Ed: The Milibands and the Making of a Labour Leader. He was the New Statesman's senior editor (politics) from 2009-12.

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The conflict in Yemen is a civil war by numbers

Amid the battles, a generation starves.

Ten thousand dead – a conservative estimate at best. Three million internally displaced. Twenty million in need of aid. Two hundred thousand besieged for over a year. Thirty-four ballistic missiles fired into Saudi Arabia. More than 140 mourners killed in a double-tap strike on a funeral. These are just some of the numerical subscripts of the war in Yemen.

The British government would probably prefer to draw attention to the money being spent on aid in Yemen – £37m extra, according to figures released by the Department for International Development in September – rather than the £3.3bn worth of arms that the UK licensed for sale to Saudi Arabia in the first year of the kingdom’s bombing campaign against one of the poorest nations in the Middle East.

Yet, on the ground, the numbers are meaningless. What they do not show is how the conflict is tearing Yemeni society apart. Nor do they account for the deaths from disease and starvation caused by the hindering of food imports and medical supplies – siege tactics used by both sides – and for the appropriation of aid for financial gain.

Since the war began in March 2015 I have travelled more than 2,500 miles across Yemen, criss-crossing the front lines in and out of territories controlled by Houthi rebels, or by their opponents, the Saudi-backed resistance forces, or through vast stretches of land held by al-Qaeda. On those journeys, what struck me most was the deepening resentment expressed by so many people towards their fellow Yemenis.

The object of that loathing can change in the space of a few hundred metres. The soundtrack to this hatred emanates from smartphones resting on rusting oil drums, protruding from the breast pockets of military fatigues, or lying on chairs under makeshift awnings where flags denote the beginning of the dead ground of no-man’s-land. The rabble-rousing propaganda songs preach to the watchful gunmen about a feeble and irreligious enemy backed by foreign powers. Down the road, an almost identical scene awaits, only the flag is different and the song, though echoing the same sentiment, chants of an opponent altogether different from the one decried barely out of earshot in the dust behind you.

“We hate them. They hate us. We kill each other. Who wins?” mused a fellow passenger on one of my trips as he pressed green leaves of the mildly narcotic khat plant into his mouth.

Mohammed was a friend of a friend who helped to smuggle me – dressed in the all-black, face-covering garb of a Yemeni woman – across front lines into the besieged enclave of Taiz. “We lose everything,” he said. “They win. They always win.” He gesticulated as he spoke of these invisible yet omnipresent powers: Yemen’s political elite and the foreign states entangled in his country’s conflict.

This promotion of hatred, creating what are likely to be irreversible divisions, is necessary for the war’s belligerents in order to incite tens of thousands to fight. It is essential to perpetuate the cycle of revenge unleashed by the territorial advances in 2014 and 2015 by Houthi rebels and the forces of their patron, the former president Ali Abdullah Saleh. This demand for retribution is matched by those who are now seeking vengeance for the lives lost in a UK-supported, Saudi-led aerial bombing campaign.

More than 25 years after the two states of North and South Yemen united, the gulf between them has never been wider. The political south, now controlled by forces aligned with the Saudi-led coalition, is logistically as well as politically severed from the north-western territories under the command of the Houthi rebels and Saleh loyalists. Caught in the middle is the city of Taiz, which is steadily being reduced to rubble after a year-long siege imposed by the Houthi-Saleh forces.

Revenge nourishes the violence, but it cannot feed those who are dying from malnutrition. Blowing in the sandy wind on roadsides up and down the country are tattered tents that hundreds of thousands of displaced families now call home. Others have fled from the cities and towns affected by the conflict to remote but safer village areas. There, food and medical care are scarce.

The acute child malnutrition reported in urban hospitals remains largely hidden in these isolated villages, far from tarmac roads, beyond the reach of international aid agencies. On my road trips across Yemen, a journey that would normally take 45 minutes on asphalt could take five hours on tracks across scrubland and rock, climbing mountainsides and descending into valleys where bridges stand useless, snapped in half by air strikes.

Among the other statistics are the missing millions needed by the state – the country’s largest employer. Workers haven’t been paid in months, amid fears of an economic collapse. This is apparently a deliberate tactic of fiscal strangulation by the Saudi-backed Yemeni government-in-exile. The recent relocation of the central bank from the Houthi-controlled capital, Sana’a, to the southern city of Aden is so far proving symbolic, given that the institution remains devoid of funds. The workforce on both sides of the conflict has taken to the streets to protest against salaries being overdue.

Following the deaths of more than 140 people in Saudi-led air strikes on a funeral hall on 8 October, Saleh and the Houthi leader, Abdulmalik al-Houthi, called for yet more revenge. Within hours, ballistic missiles were fired from within Houthi territory, reaching up to 350 miles into Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, in the Red Sea, Houthi missile attacks on US warships resulted in retaliation, sucking the US further into the mire. Hours later, Iran announced its intention to deploy naval vessels in the area.

Vengeance continues to drive the violence in Yemen, which is being drawn ever closer to proxy conflicts being fought elsewhere in the Middle East. Yet the impact on Yemeni society and the consequences for the population’s health for generations to come are unlikely to appear to the outside world, not even as annotated numbers in the brief glimpses we get of this war. 

This article first appeared in the 20 October 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Brothers in blood