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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Former Irish premier John Bruton on Brexit: "Britain should pay for our border checks"

The former Taoiseach says Brexit has been interpreted as "a profoundly unfriendly act"

At Kapıkule, on the Turkish border with Bulgaria, the queue of lorries awaiting clearance to enter European Union territory can extend as long as 17km. Despite Turkey’s customs union for goods with the bloc, hauliers can spend up to 30 hours clearing a series of demanding administrative hoops. This is the nightmare keeping former Irish premier John Bruton up at night. Only this time, it's the post-Brexit border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, and it's much, much worse.   

Bruton (pictured below), Taoiseach between 1994 and 1997, is an ardent pro-European and was historically so sympathetic to Britain that, while in office, he was pilloried as "John Unionist" by his rivals. But he believes, should she continue her push for a hard Brexit, that Theresa May's promise for a “seamless, frictionless border” is unattainable. 

"A good example of the sort of thing that might arise is what’s happening on the Turkish-Bulgarian border," the former leader of Ireland's centre-right Fine Gael party told me. “The situation would be more severe in Ireland, because the UK proposes to leave the customs union as well."

The outlook for Ireland looks grim – and a world away from the dynamism of the Celtic Tiger days Bruton’s coalition government helped usher in. “There will be all sorts of problems," he said. "Separate permits for truck drivers operating across two jurisdictions, people having to pay for the right to use foreign roads, and a whole range of other issues.” 

Last week, an anti-Brexit protest on the border in Killeen, County Louth, saw mock customs checks bring traffic to a near standstill. But, so far, the discussion around what the future looks like for the 260 border crossings has focused predominantly on its potential effects on Ulster’s fragile peace. Last week Bruton’s successor as Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, warned “any sort of physical border” would be “bad for the peace process”. 

Bruton does not disagree, and is concerned by what the UK’s withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights might mean for the Good Friday Agreement. But he believes the preoccupation with the legacy of violence has distracted British policymakers from the potentially devastating economic impact of Brexit. “I don’t believe that any serious thought was given to the wider impact on the economy of the two islands as a whole," he said. 

The collapse in the pound has already hit Irish exporters, for whom British sales are worth £15bn. Businesses that work across the border could yet face the crippling expense of duplicating their operations after the UK leaves the customs union and single market. This, he says, will “radically disturb” Ireland’s agriculture and food-processing industries – 55 per cent of whose products are sold to the UK. A transitional deal will "anaesthetise" people to the real impact, he says, but when it comes, it will be a more seismic change than many in London are expecting. He even believes it would be “logical” for the UK to cover the Irish government’s costs as it builds new infrastructure and employs new customs officials to deal with the new reality.

Despite his past support for Britain, the government's push for a hard Brexit has clearly tested Bruton's patience. “We’re attempting to unravel more than 40 years of joint work, joint rule-making, to create the largest multinational market in the world," he said. It is not just Bruton who is frustrated. The British decision to "tear that up", he said, "is regarded, particularly by people in Ireland, as a profoundly unfriendly act towards neighbours".

Nor does he think Leave campaigners, among them the former Northern Ireland secretary Theresa Villiers, gave due attention to the issue during the campaign. “The assurances that were given were of the nature of: ‘Well, it’ll be alright on the night!’," he said. "As if the Brexit advocates were in a position to give any assurances on that point.” 

Indeed, some of the more blimpish elements of the British right believe Ireland, wedded to its low corporate tax rates and east-west trade, would sooner follow its neighbour out of the EU than endure the disruption. Recent polling shows they are likely mistaken: some 80 per cent of Irish voters say they would vote to remain in an EU referendum.

Irexit remains a fringe cause and Bruton believes, post-Brexit, Dublin will have no choice but to align itself more closely with the EU27. “The UK is walking away,” he said. “This shift has been imposed upon us by our neighbour. Ireland will have to do the best it can: any EU without Britain is a more difficult EU for Ireland.” 

May, he says, has exacerbated those difficulties. Her appointment of her ally James Brokenshire as secretary of state for Northern Ireland was interpreted as a sign she understood the role’s strategic importance. But Bruton doubts Ireland has figured much in her biggest decisions on Brexit: “I don’t think serious thought was given to this before her conference speech, which insisted on immigration controls and on no jurisdiction for the European Court of Justice. Those two decisions essentially removed the possibility for Ireland and Britain to work together as part of the EEA or customs union – and were not even necessitated by the referendum decision.”

There are several avenues for Britain if it wants to avert the “voluntary injury” it looks set to inflict to Ireland’s economy and its own. One, which Bruton concedes is unlikely, is staying in the single market. He dismisses as “fanciful” the suggestions that Northern Ireland alone could negotiate European Economic Area membership, while a poll on Irish reunification is "only marginally" more likely. 

The other is a variation on the Remoaners’ favourite - a second referendum should Britain look set to crash out on World Trade Organisation terms without a satisfactory deal. “I don’t think a second referendum is going to be accepted by anybody at this stage. It is going to take a number of years,” he said. “I would like to see the negotiation proceed and for the European Union to keep the option of UK membership on 2015 terms on the table. It would be the best available alternative to an agreed outcome.” 

As things stand, however, Bruton is unambiguous. Brexit means the Northern Irish border will change for the worse. “That’s just inherent in the decision the UK electorate was invited to take, and took – or rather, the UK government took in interpreting the referendum.”