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In today's New York Times article titled Uncharted Ground After Stunning End of Egypt’s Regime reporting now 'former' President of Egypt, Hosni Sayyid Mubarak’s departure from office, I found the phrase pose challenges as myriad as Mubarak’s departure was singular.

The meaning of as .... as used here does not seem to be same as the pattern I’m accustomed to, e.g., as many as, and as much as.
I think the writer chose myriad to make contrast to singular. Can I interpret as preceding to Mr. Mubarak’s departure as when, while, or although? If not, how can I paraphrase this line? The text reads as follows:

But in the gray light of dawn, Egypt will face the meaning of its revolution, as will an Arab world that shares its demographic of a younger generation taking the stage, posing challenges as myriad as Mr. Mubarak’s departure was singular.

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

The author here is probably trying to convey the sense of extremes.

Mubarak's reign in Egypt was dictatorial and iron-fisted, so it could be said that it was singular. So, his departure was quite unexpected and surprising. That is one end of the spectrum, in the sense of being remarkable, unusual and surprising.

The issues faced by Egypt now will be multi-faceted and numerous, so it can be said that there are innumerable problems that are going to be faced by Egypt. That is the other end of the spectrum, in the multiplicity of problems.

The journo is trying to point out that Egypt has gone from one extreme to another extreme, from a singular huge problem(Mubarak's regime) to a multitude of smaller problems.

"The number of problems faced by Egypt will be as remarkable as Mubarak's departure was unexpected and surprising" is another way of conveying the same thing.

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It says Mubarak's departure was singular, so presumably it uses "singular" in the sense of "remarkable: unusual or striking; curious: beyond or deviating from the usual or expected", etc. –  ShreevatsaR Feb 12 '11 at 12:13
    
@ShreevatsR: Yes, I overlooked that. I have made the edits to make the answer match the question. –  Arjun J Rao Feb 12 '11 at 12:35
    
Arjun and Shreevatsar. Thank you for your input. By interpreting Singular as Striking or Unusual, not a single, I think I started to get message. My question was originated from a simple (or absurd) question on the logic, ‘why challenges are as 1000s (myriad) as 1 (singular)’, in other word ‘as big as small? – Do you know what I mean? Could you further clarify the meaning of ‘as ... as’ used here for me? Is it still the same with ‘as much as’? –  Yoichi Oishi Feb 12 '11 at 21:46
    
According to me, 'as myriad as' is used as one side of the comparison. The other side of the comparison is 'the surprise of Mubarak's departure' The word 'as' is used to say that one side is as significant as the other –  Arjun J Rao Feb 13 '11 at 4:47
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