Monday, January 31, 2011

Nazis or Stalin: What will Egypt choose?

Assuming the Egyptian people actually had a choice at this point, what options do they really have to select from?

At present, their choice is like having to choose between the Nazis or Stalin - between the Islamic fundamentalists of the Moslem Brotherhood vs. the iron-fisted dictator Mubarak.

Not a great option in either case for the Egyptian people.

But do the Egyptian people actually have a choice?

The reality is that the only choice they got was to demand change.

As to what change they'll get, that's in the hands of those who had previously organized, waiting for this day to come, and in those who hold the power today.

If ElBaradai takes over tomorrow, it won't have been through democratic elections, that's for sure. And there would be no guarantee of democratic elections in the immediate future either.

But I would not take it as a 100% given that Mubarak is completely down and out.

If I were Mubarak, and I cared about the future of Egypt (and as Egypt is his life's work, I assume he does), he would be doing everything right now to make sure that the Moslem Brotherhood aren't in a position to take over the country - an act that would turn Egypt into Iran and Gaza.

Mubarak would be taking steps to weaken their influence and growth.

While it will now be impossible to lock the Moslem Brotherhood out, it is still possible to marginalize and minimalize their influence.

Mubarak would publicly announce that elections will be held in 6 months under international supervision and management, and that he is asking the UN to send in those observers immediately.

Mubarak would announce that he is retiring in 3 months time, and he is staying on for those 3 months solely to ensure that preparations for elections are complete and that laws are in place for democratic elections every 5 years.

After those 3 months, his number 2, Suleiman would take the reins as acting President until elections are held (to give him some sort of incumbents advantage, even though he's associated with Mubarak)

His goal would be to first calm down the street and make it clear and transparent that he has set up the irrevocable mechanisms for transition to a democratic government.

His second goal is to give Suleiman a fighting chance. The way he will do this is is ensuring that the widest number of parties can run independently and get elected. This will hopefully weaken the possibility of the Moslem Brotherhood gaining too much individual power.

His third goal is to scare the people once the street has calmed down. He must force them to consider if they really want to vote Moslem Brotherhood and turn Egypt into Iran.

Calming the street down is important.

Once the people see they are getting what they want and are given the time to think, that will block the immediate ascension of the Islamic fundamentalists.

The Moslem Brotherhood may still win the elections in 6 months time as they are the most organized, but 6 months give others a chance too.

Tomorrow the Moslem Brotherhood could control everything - without elections. But in 6 months time, they would be an important party, but not necessarily the ruling one.

The Egyptian people don't need to have to choose between the Nazis and Stalin, but will if they aren't given the chance to calm down and think about what they want for their future.

ElBaradai and Muslim Brotherhood are counting on them not having that chance to think.

(Thanks Jameel for the Nazi-Stalin concept)

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NormanF said...

Agreed... a democratic transition would have to be managed carefully.

Egypt is a country older than its history that began with the Arab conquest in the 7th Century. Egyptians are acutely aware of their history as heirs to the oldest dynasties that go back to the dawn of human history.

In particular, Egypt had always had Pharaohs with absolute powers, whether kings or Presidents. Developing a real democracy in the face of a very ancient tradition is a tall order.

Whether the Egyptian middle class that is pushing for it will get it remains to be seen.

Anonymous said...

Egyptians aren't pushing for democracy, they are pushing for better economic circumstances, and not the kind that take patience an hard work. Rather than liberty, I suspect most Egyptians are interested in liberating the property of elites and foreigners. I have a feeling they'll want Castro.
More analysis at:

Anonymous said...

I see the MB like the snake in Aesop's fable....

They both want to cross, and the fox says, "I'll give you a ride on my back if you won't bite me." The snake agrees, but halfway across he bites the fox, who cries, "You said you wouldn't bite me. Now we'll both die." And snake says, "But you knew I was a snake."

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