Mrs. Clinton praised the longstanding partnership between the U.S. and Egypt as the "cornerstone of stability and security in the Middle East and beyond." Months later, that cornerstone is crumbling. A week-long wave of demonstrations has pushed President Hosni Mubarak to promise he'll leave—and the repercussions of the tumult in the Arab world's most populous land have only begun to reverberate around the strategic and volatile Middle East.
A close look at how Egypt's seemingly stable surface cracked in so short a time shows how Egypt's rulers and their Western allies were caught almost completely off guard as the revolution unfolded, despite deep concerns about where Egypt's authoritarian government was leading the country.
From the moment demonstrators began pouring into the street, those leaders have been scrambling to keep up, often responding in ways that have accelerated the crisis.
The story also outlines how the Mubarak government itself was largely tone deaf to the political din that was ramping up within its borders in recent months, having festered for years. They are now paying the price for their own aloofness. Other Arab world leaders have snapped to attention and are flailing to avoid becoming political casualties of the popular angst simmering throughout the region:
Jordan's King Abdullah II fired his government and named a new prime minister who he said would be responsible for enacting "true" political reforms, the latest in a handful of moves announced Tuesday across the region that appeared aimed at tamping down growing popular anger at political and economic malaise.
On a day that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak faced hundreds of thousands of angry protesters with a pledge that he wouldn't seek re-election, leaders around the region took steps to hold on to their own power.
Yemen's longtime president plans to convene an emergency session of parliament Wednesday, ruling party officials there said, with one official saying President Ali Abdullah Saleh wouldn't seek re-election in 2013. Opposition leaders dismissed the emergency meeting as too-little, too-late, and vowed to call protests Thursday.
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad said this week he was speeding up meaningful reform as opposition is busy planning a "day of rage" protests in Damascus on Saturday.
Tunisia came first, now Egypt. Assad, Abdullah, and others are gripped by the question: Who, if anyone, is next?