It's not surprising that the situation in Egypt has escalated into violence. The whole region is volatile, and given the anger and resentment that so many Middle Easterners (particularly the disenfranchised youth) harbor towards everything from poverty and lack of jobs, to the West and the Palestinian/Israeli issue - did anyone really expect this to resolve itself peacefully? Factor in a president cum dictator who has ruled the country for 30 plus years doing what he needed to retain power, and Egypt was a disaster waiting to happen. Simply criticizing President Hosni Mubarak could land you in jail. Kareem Amer spent 3 plus years in prison for insulting President Hosni Mubarak along with some anti-religious commentary he posted on his blog.
Although he ranked in Parade Magazine's Top Ten Worst Dictators in 2009 he also happens to be a U.S. ally, pro-West, is one of the few friends Israel has in that region and has managed to keep Egypt as secular as one can get in that neck of the woods. Therein lies the problem.
Who will fill the void when Mubarak steps down, which is inevitable? The Muslim Brotherhood, although banned in Egypt, is still the largest opposition group in the country, and people are still ignorant enough to be drawn towards a group that will be itching to get into power once Mubarak is gone, and will also do anything to ensure that happens. Will they then replace authoritarianism for islamism?
I fear for Egypt, and even more so for Israel if the Egyptians make the wrong choice.