Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Multiple Axes of Egypt's Current Crisis

Hussein Ibish (at Now Lebanon) has a superbly cogent analysis of where things now stand in Egypt after SCAF's moves to disband the parliament and perhaps eviscerate the presidency . . . and also notes that a judical ruling that may come down today may again reduce the Muslim Brotherhood to illegal status as a political party.

For many Egyptians and outside observers, the recent moves by the courts and the military—even without denying Mursi the presidency, assuming he has really won it legitimately, or again illegalizing the Muslim Brotherhood—already represent a coup d’état by forces associated with the regime of former President Hosni Mubarak. Yet the results of the presidential election suggest that there is a very significant popular constituency for these forces, assuming that Shafik was widely understood as representing them.

Egyptian society, in other words, is deeply divided along multiple axes. Islamists and their allies among revolutionary forces, who prefer anyone over remnants of the former regime, are likely to view ongoing events as a dictatorial plot by a junta to thwart democracy. Most Shafik voters, by contrast, may well see the developments as an unpleasant but necessary step to forestall Islamist domination, which would, they undoubtedly feel, lead to an even more oppressive system, albeit backed up by some degree of popular mandate.

A large number of liberal revolutionaries who were crucial in bringing down the former regime have adopted a stance condemning both the Muslim Brotherhood and the military and its allies. And it’s likely that most long-suffering Egyptian voters are ideologically unaffiliated and simply want jobs, economic security, law and order, and to have their votes recognized rather than bypassed by decrees.

The Muslim Brotherhood traditionally doesn’t like confrontation, but it may be left with little choice and can try to deploy new leverage by claiming a popular mandate. The military has the guns and, for now at least, control of most state institutions. An accommodation is hard to envisage.

The coming months in Egypt, therefore, are almost certainly going to test the relative strengths of these forces. And this struggle will come at the expense of the Egyptian people.


I wonder how Jordanians - and King Abdullah II - will respond to all of this.

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