Alaa Al-Aswani says the tide could start turning against Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's dictator for the last 29 years, starting with the return of IAEA chief Muhammad ElBaradei today:

The youths have exerted a huge effort in calling on Egyptians to welcome ElBaradei home on Friday. I believe thousands of Egyptians will turn out to greet him, just as I believe the security forces will make efforts to shut down this popular welcome. In every way, and without any doubt, Dr. ElBaradei has become the most important political phenomenon in Egypt right now. 

In the eyes of Egyptians, ElBaradei is thought to be effective and honorable, who has not dirtied his hands with corruption, participated in electoral irregularities, did not keep his mouth shut when innocents are arrested and tortured, wasn’t a yes man for President Mubarak, and doesn’t sing about his historical achievements like today’s hypocritical ministers. For all of these reasons, ElBaradei is appreciated across Egypt’s political spectrum, from the Muslim Brotherhood to the leftists to the liberals and even the expat Copts.

This is could turn into a slo-mo Arab version of the Iranian democracy protests -- and unlike in Iran, the US can actually have an impact here.

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