Showing posts with label Egypt. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Egypt. Show all posts

December 16, 2012

Analysis: The failings of the process of drafting and adopting the Egyptian constitution

    Sunday, December 16, 2012   No comments

by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*

The most convincing argument for rushing the vote on the new constitution is that having a new constitution will move Egypt from the transition stage into permanence and stability. True, a country governed by elected leaders under legitimate constitutional authority will shift the focus from politics to rebuilding. However, the constitution remains the most important document because it spells out the rules necessary for all other institutions and branches of government. Most importantly, it is the document that defines and protects individual and group rights. Because of the importance of the constitution, the process leading to its adoption should be deliberate, fair, and transparent. Several reasons suggest that the drafting and the vote on the Egyptian constitution will not bring stability as many hoped it would do.

1. In a country like Egypt, characterized by the presence of super-majorities and super-minorities (Muslims v. Christians, religious v. secular), the need to protect citizens’ rights becomes more urgent than in diverse societies. Minimally, given the Egyptian particulars, the constitution should be adopted only through super-majority vote, not a simple majority. A constitution passed by a slim margin of the vote represents the will of the simple majority, which is, in this case, members of the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies. It will be in the interest of most Egyptians to require a two-third or three-quarter threshold. Had that been the requirement, the drafters of the constitution would have been forced to rely on the input and support of more social groups and political parties. 

2. In Egypt, according to most recent data, the literacy rate is about 66 percent. That means that 34 percent of the voters do not know how to read the constitution. Moreover, the time between publishing the draft constitution and the first round of voting was less than 15 days. That is hardly enough time for those who can read to study it and decide in a deliberate way. This means that more and more people would have relied on their political, religious, and tribal leaders rather than on their own judgment. It is unfortunate that a crucial document like a constitution was adopted through proxy vote.

Given these and other reasons, it is understandable that many Egyptians see this constitution to be that of the Muslim Brotherhood, not that of all Egyptians. And because it is harder to pass amendments, it may require a new revolution to create a constitution by and for the majority of the Egyptians. If the constitution is approved by a simple majority of voters, the opposition would have no reason to abandon protesting the outcome and instability will persist.

Attachments: New Egyptian Constitution (Arabic)
* Prof. SOUAIAIA teaches at the University of Iowa. He is the author of a number of books and articles. Opinion herein are the author’s, speaking on matters of public interest; not speaking for the university or any other organization with which he is affiliated.

December 10, 2012

News & Analysis: Arab Spring 2.0

    Monday, December 10, 2012   No comments
In the last two weeks, violent protests have taken place in the two countries that started the Arab Spring: Tunisia and Egypt. In Tunisia, protesters paralyzed the province of Siliana. Like Sidi Bouzid, where Elbouazizi sparked the Tunisian revolution, Siliana has many grievances. But protests quickly spread to other cities including the capital, Tunis. The Tunisian government is now mulling a reshuffle.

In Egypt, over two weeks ago, President Mohammed Morsi announced a constitutional decree that was seen by many as a power grab in the absence of an elected parliament and a ratified new constitution. Opposition forces returned to Tahrir Square demanding that he rolls back his decisions. He reacted by hastily scheduling a referendum on a new constitution drafted by a body dominated by Islamists. Yesterday, he gave the military police powers authorizing it to arrest civilians during the December 15 vote.

November 25, 2012

Analysis: Recognizing the new Syrian National Coalition alone will not end the war in Syria

    Sunday, November 25, 2012   No comments

by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*

Those who doubt Lakhdar Brahimi’s assessment of the crisis in Syria ought to rethink their position. His ostensibly naïve initiative for a ceasefire over the Eid holidays might have been a brilliant maneuver that ended the existence of the Syrian National Council, the previously prominent face of the Syrian opposition. Before proposing an ambitious plan of six or one hundred points like his predecessor, Brahimi wanted to make sure that there are reliable representatives of both sides who can exert influence and control over their subordinates. After visiting Russia and China, he proposed, from Tehran, that both the opposition forces and the government stop fighting for four days.

Apparently, he wanted to test the influence of the Syrian regime backers and the political leaders of the opposition (Syrian National Council, or SNC) who accepted the ceasefire. Even the military leaders of the FSA accepted the Eid ceasefire. He was aware that for the ceasefire to hold, the opposition groups must stop fighting. It is one thing to claim control over armed groups by simply supporting their actions, but it is a different level of credible control to actually order these groups to stop fighting and see compliance on the ground. Brahimi wanted actual proof of command and control over armed groups in the form of four days of quiet.

The result was embarrassing for the so-called opposition leaders. During the four-day holidays, more car bombs exploded in crowded cities and more attacks on military checkpoints. Worse, some of the FSA groups used the quiet time to attack Kurdish neighborhoods in Aleppo and other Kurdish majority areas to bring more territory under their control. Deadly fights erupted between FSA fighters and Kurdish neighborhood protection militias, forcing the FSA groups to retreat.

October 24, 2012

U.S. Middle East foreign policy needs upgrade

    Wednesday, October 24, 2012   No comments
by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*

Map: Syria and Iran
The third presidential debate in the United States’ race focused on foreign policy. In reality, there was no real debate. It was an argument between two candidates about which one of them would apply policies that are already in place better than the other. Granted that a sitting president would not want to challenge his own policy, it was Mitt Romney’s responsibility to offer a fresh paradigm.

However, Governor Romney was clearly out of his comfort zone when talking about foreign policy. Considering that two-thirds of the entire debate was devoted to the Middle East and the Islamic world, I expected an exciting and informative debate. However, I lost hope in hearing a substantive discussion of the Middle East policy when I heard Governor Romney say that, “Syria is Iran's only ally in the Arab world. It's their route to the sea.” Even after years of teaching courses about the Middle East to young men and women who had just graduated high school, I cannot recall seeing so many errors in so short of a statement.

September 22, 2012

Why is the U.S.-Islamic world relation so fragile?

    Saturday, September 22, 2012   No comments
by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*

Muslims around the world
President Obama offered renewed hope when he promised to usher in an era of mutual respect with the Islamic world. To jumpstart this new era, President Obama addressed Muslims in two key speeches: one delivered in Turkey, the last seat of the Sunni Islamic caliphate, and the other in Cairo, the last seat of the Shiite Fatimid caliphate. Then two critical events brought all those efforts to a halt.

First, the U.S. administration failed to help the Palestinians and Israelis make progress towards a peaceful resolution of their 64-year old conflict. In fact, the failure was multifaceted. The administration neither abandoned its involvement nor pushed the two parties harder to enter into serious negotiations. Instead, without principle or vision, it engaged the two parties selectively which frustrated Arab leaders, Palestinians, and Israelis alike. For example, when the Palestinians complained that the Israeli government is violating international law by continuing its settlement activities on occupied land, the administration agreed and called on Prime Minister Netanyahu to freeze these activities and restart peace talks on the basis of the 1967 boarders. Netanyahu rudely challenged that proposal in a speech before a joint session of U.S. Congress, telling Obama that the 67 border is indefensible. He then continued to build more homes on Palestinian lands.

June 18, 2012

What is next for Egypt?

    Monday, June 18, 2012   No comments

by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*

In a couple of days, Morsi will be declared the winner of the presidential contest. Although we just witnessed events that reminded us that nothing is certain in post-revolution Egypt, having a president 15 months after the ouster of Hosni Mubarak will bring some political stability and predictability for the country. But the questions concerning the parliament, the new constitution, and the role of the military in politics will persist.

The Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) military announced today that it will hold a ceremony by month’s end to hand over powers to the elected president. It will be more accurate to say that the military will be handing over some power, not all powers given its actions in the past 24 hours. In fact, before Egyptians finished voting on the second day the presidential contest, the military gave itself more constitutional powers including:

June 15, 2012

Egyptian military and Brotherhood in high stakes game of brinkmanship

    Friday, June 15, 2012   No comments

by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*

Before his ouster, Hosni Mubarak fired a desperate, last shot. He handed over all his authorities to the military, from whose ranks he rose to power. He reasoned that if he cannot keep power, he should preserve influence. Since then, the military has walked a tight line between appeasing the powerful Muslim Brotherhood and protecting the old regime. The Muslim Brotherhood, too, practiced smart politicking by standing at an equal distance between the revolutionary youth who wanted a total break with the old regime (including the military). Both sides, the military and the Brotherhood, managed the transition like skillful chess masters. 

June 5, 2012

What is behind Saudi Arabia’s uncharacteristic aggressiveness?

    Tuesday, June 05, 2012   No comments

Until before Cablegate, when in February 2010 WikiLeaks began releasing classified U.S. cables, Saudi Arabia was known for its quiet diplomacy. Then its secret dealings were revealed and exposed its actual dealings. Regionally, released documents exposed Saudi Arabia as an enthusiastic proponent of military intervention in Iran. Privately, the Saudi rulers told U.S. officials that Iran is the biggest threat. Publicly, they emphasized Saudi Arabia’s commitment to a diplomatic, peaceful solution to the Iranian problem. In other words, the Saudi rulers conducted a two-tract, contradictory policy. The leaks deprived them of the cover of diplomatic secrecy. 

Together, WikiLeaks and the Arab Awakening highlighted Saudi Arabia’s reliance on authoritarian rulers and extremist Salafis to exert influence around the world. The Arab Spring threatened authoritarian rulers and extremist Salafis. Access to information and public participation in selecting leaders became a threat to Saudi religious and political paradigms and for those reasons they are now fully prepared to pursue an aggressive foreign policy publicly. In other words, Saudi aggressive meddling in the affairs of its neighbors is not new, it is simply overt nowadays.

In the short run, the Saudis will be able to exert limited influence in the region, mainly through their ability to create instability using violent, fanatic elements. In the long run, the Saudi money that is supporting Salafi political parties in Tunisia and Egypt and their open military support of Salafi armed groups in Syria will not succeed in preserving their governing paradigm. First, because it is ideologically flawed and socially unjust. Second, if the Salafis become willing and successful participating members in the democratic processes in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria and other Awakened Arab countries, they would want to have the same rights in Saudi Arabia itself. Thirdly, the Saudis’ enthusiastic support of the uprising in Syria cannot and will not absolve them of the long record of supporting authoritarians such as Mubarak and Ben Ali, who is still living under their protection. In the end, only genuine political and religious reform can save the kingdom from radical, and perhaps violent changes.


April 14, 2012

What caused the Syrian and Yemini uprisings to falter?

    Saturday, April 14, 2012   No comments

Syria: From peaceful uprising to armed rebellion
By all accounts, the success of the uprisings against the old guard in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya was not matched in Yemen and Syria. The failure of the Yemeni and Syrian uprisings to achieve their goals can be explained by the post-revolutions’ events in the Arab Awakening countries and the Gulf States’ meddling therein.

After nearly a year of hard struggle against the authoritarian regimes in the first three Arab Awakening countries, the youth of the revolution were overlooked in the elections due to the efficiency of the political machine of religious parties. In all three countries, Islamists, moderate and otherwise, reaped the fruits of uprisings initiated and realized by apolitical youth who were less interested in ideology and more driven by their yearning for dignity and respect.

But when the dust settled, religious and nationalist groups were able to mobilize their followers and gain control of elected bodies. This trend sent a shock of despair among the youth in Syria and Yemen. They became uninterested in sweating and bleeding for a cause that will be hijacked by Muslim brothers, salafis, and tahriris.

The second factor that contributed to the starving of the uprisings in Syria is the uncharacteristic “support” from the Gulf States, especially Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The Syrian youth were not interested in having their fight for dignity sponsored and bankrolled by regimes that have no culture of social justice, shared governance, and respect for human dignity. For many Syrians, it is bizarre that the Saudi family could offer the former dictator of Tunisia protection while calling for Assad’s removal from office. It is inexplicable that the same regime that hospitalized and supported the dictator of Yemen and called for a peaceful, political solution to the crisis there was willing to arm and finance the rebels in Syria. It is disturbing that the same regime that sent military tanks and troops to crush a peaceful uprising in Bahrain wants the UNSC and the Arab League to send troops into Syria. 

Simply put, the Syrian youth who struggled for political rights were not persuaded by the crocodile tears of the ruling families in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Perhaps, when those rulers recognize the human rights of immigrants, respect the dignity of women, and end sectarian and ethnic discrimination in their countries, then, and only then, can they side with the Syrian people and speak on their behalf.

Considering the Saudi involvement in the Syrian crisis, it would seem as if the Saudis gambled on a win-win situation: the removal of Assad whom they despised for many reasons or the derailing of the Arab Awakening. They may have gotten the latter; while depriving the Arab peoples of a chance to transform their world for the better.


April 4, 2012

Why did the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood change their mind about fielding a presidential candidate?

    Wednesday, April 04, 2012   No comments

Kairat al-Shater

News analysts and political commentators characterized the Muslim Brotherhood’s decision to field a presidential candidate as evidence that the group is willing to betray its own promises for political reasons. They point out other instances of flip-flopping. Immediately after the fall of Mubarak, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) announced that it welcomed the democratic process that will usher in pluralism and end authoritarianism. To help realize that goal, they promised that they will contest only 30% of the parliament seats. Weeks before the elections’ process started, they modified that figure and decided to compete for 50% of the seats. Meanwhile they continued to insist that they will not field a presidential candidate and they will not endorse anyone else. When Abdel Mon`im Abu al-Fotuh, a member of their consultative council, announced his candidacy, they expelled him.

On March 31, the group’s consultative body met and nominated the deputy guide, Khairat al-Shater. Apparently, the decision was divisive with just under half the members voting against the decision. In addition to al-Shater, at least three known Islamists have already announced their candidacy: Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, Abdel Mon`im Abu al-Fotuh, and Mohammed Salim al-Awa.

The four will face off against another four declared candidates: Amr Moussa, Bothaina Kamel, Ahmed Shafik, and Khaled Ali. Given the number of candidates, one would wonder, why did the group field their own candidate instead of endorsing one of the Islamists so that they do not split the Islamists' vote? Two considerations:

First, the Freedom and Justice Party (that originated from the MB) seems confident in its abilities to win elections given the results of the parliament and the shura contests. However, despite the Islamists’ control over the parliament, they were unable to recall the current government. They challenged the military over this issue and they lost. That signaled to them that if the future president were to behave like the military council, their authority will be limited. In a sense, their recent dispute with the military made them realize that if they want actual power, they must have a president they can trust. Apparently, they conducted secret negotiations with a number of candidates (declared and undeclared) and they were not satisfied with what they heard from them.

Second, given the stunning performance of the Salafis in the previous rounds of elections, the MB may have concluded that the Salafi candidate, Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, could win. If that were to happen, the Salafis’ 24% share in the parliament will become much more significant (than the 42% of MB) when combined with the political authority of a Salafi president. Ostensibly, the MB did not want to take that chance.

Initially, the MB argued that they don’t want to take over the parliament and the presidency for two main reasons. They did not want to move the country from the one-man rule to the one-party rule and they did not want to face the burden of building a shattered nation on their own. Now, they are on the path of controlling all the branches of government. Those conditions are still a reality and the MB may have achieved what they did not want to achieve.

January 26, 2012

Islamists win again in Egypt confirming an emerging electoral trend

    Thursday, January 26, 2012   No comments

by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*

Two days before the anniversary of the Egyptian revolution that forced Hosni Mubarak out on February 11, 2011, the newly elected members of the Egyptian parliament (Majlis al-sha`b) convened for the first time and endorsed a member of the Muslim Brethren as speaker. Saad al-Katatni was elected on Monday receiving 399 votes out of 498 cast.

The 59 year old botany professor was elected to the current parliament as the representative from the province of Minya (south of Cairo). However, he is not new to politics. Katatni is a seasoned legislator who served as the leader of the Muslim Brethren parliamentary bloc between 2005 and 2010, when they ran as independents because, then, the Islamist movement was not allowed to field candidates directly.

The Egyptian results, compared to those of similar elections in Tunisia, Palestine, Iraq, and Turkey suggest that in any fair and transparent elections in the Islamic world, Islamist parties and their affiliates can easily win at least 40% of the votes. In fact, in the case of Egypt, Islamist parties together won over 77% of the seats. These results can be used as predictors of future elections in other Arab and Islamic countries in the area. Arguably, if fair elections were in Algeria, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, Islamists are likely to win 40% or more of the votes. The question, then, is no longer whether Islamists could win a majority in elections, but which strain of Islamism and by how much.

By all accounts, the elections in Egypt were unprecedented. More than 30 million people voted (over 60% of the eligible voters), and more than ten million of them voted for the party of the Muslim Brethren, the Freedom and Justice Party (al-Hurriyya wa-‘l-adala). This margin of victory allows that party to govern without needing to form a coalition with any of the major parties. The party won 127 seats through the party list and 108 individual seats for a total of 235 seats. The parliament consists of 498 elected members, ten appointed, for a total of 508 seats. They only need about 20 seats to establish a governing majority. Therefore, the Freedom and Justice Party has many options to form a majority government.

The FJP could enter into a coalition with al-Nur, the Salafi party that came second after winning 24% of the votes, a result that surprised most observers. The FJP could also merge with another Islamist party, the Center Party (al-Wasat), which won 10 seats and attract some of the independent members. Alternatively, it can enter into a governing coalition with both Islamist parties, a move that will heighten secular politicians’ anxiety. The so-called liberal parties combined won a mere 15% of the seats, led by the oldest party, al-Wafd, which came in third after securing 38 seats. However, despite the weak performance of al-Wafd, the FJP might be inclined to enter into a coalition with it instead of one or both of the Islamist parties, which it considers to be direct competitors.

Regardless of the coalition choices the FJP may make in the next few days, this body of elected representatives will be tested as it faces a host of problems during this transition period. Importantly, the leaders of the parliament must appoint a committee consisting of one hundred members tasked with drafting the new constitution. The FJP will face pressure from the right as well as from the left.

The ultraconservative al-Nur party, whose supporters have generally shunned democracy as un-Islamic, will likely push for the inclusion of explicit language about the shari`ah being the main source of law in the new constitution. Liberal politicians and western governments will advocate for a constitution that favors secularism. It is likely that a compromise will be struck that will enshrine shari`ah as a main source of law. Short of that, and if leaders of the parliament cannot reach consensus on this and other critical issues, the military would likely intervene—a scenario favored by a number of military leaders.

One thing is certain however: the next Egyptian president will not be allowed to consolidate power the way Mubarak and his predecessors did in the past. The Muslim Brethren implicitly endorsed such a plan. First, immediately after the fall of the regime, that party announced that it will not field a presidential candidate. The move was interpreted as reassurance to the Egyptian public and foreign governments that Islamists are not interested in a power grab. That move did not mean that Islamists are disinterested in the position. Instead, they are interested in reforming it. Second, all indications show that the Muslim Brethren favors a ceremonial presidential position and a strong government under the oversight of the parliament. Ultimately, this divested-power model might benefit Egyptian society, which has suffered under authoritarian rule since independence. It may also promote the emergence of autonomous civil society institutions, which is necessary for accountable government.

The most important achievement of these elections, however, remains the embrace of the electoral paradigm for the determination of political legitimacy. Indeed, the ban on Islamists in past turned them into political martyrs. The Salafis’ rejection of democracy attempted to discredit the representative governance model. Now, the participation of more than one Islamist group in local and national elections takes religious absolutism out of the equation and empowers the people to determine their political leaders and institutions; that in and by itself is a step in the right direction.
* Prof. SOUAIAIA teaches at the University of Iowa. He is the author of the book, Contesting Justice. Opinions expressed herein are the author’s, speaking as a citizen on matters of public interest; not speaking for the university or any other organization with which he is affiliated.

December 21, 2011

Holding on to the past and the status quo, Gulf States seek political unity

    Wednesday, December 21, 2011   No comments
by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*

The Arab world is fundamentally changing, and many Arab leaders are racing to adapt. Showing increased signs of nervousness, the leaders of the Gulf States have adopted the Saudi King’s recommendation to move the Gulf Cooperative Council (GCC) towards “unity.” The meeting of the rulers of the GCC member states that concluded on Tuesday December 20, 2011 also issued an unusually portentous declaration. The rulers expressed their fears of “attempts by foreign entities trying to export their internal crises through the effects of discord and division, and inciting sectarianism.” Therefore, they outlined a strategy “to fortify the home front” to counter these attempts through their “determination to achieve the highest degree of economic integration and development of defense cooperation and security.” Let’s attempt to decipher these seemingly cryptic sentences.

December 20, 2011

The dissipating prestige of the Egyptian military

    Tuesday, December 20, 2011   No comments
Despite evidence to the contrary, the Egyptian military continues to deny using violence against protesters and continue to argue that it is the legitimate power broker. On Tuesday, Gen. Adel Emara, spokesperson for the ruling military junta contended that the military had never used violence against protesters:
“The armed forces and the police pledged not to use violence against protesters actively or even verbally.”
When a journalist tried to display a newspaper image of a woman brutally beaten by military police he interrupted:
“Before you open the newspaper, fold it. I know what I’m talking about. Yes, this scene took place and we’re investigating it. But let’s look at the whole picture and see the circumstances the picture was taken in and we will announce the complete truth. Don’t take only this shot, you or any other, and cite it to prove that violence was used.”
Another Egyptian general said that the protesters are "delinquents who deserve to be thrown into Hitler's ovens." Gen. Abdel Moneim Kato, who serves as an adviser to the military's public relations department, made the remarks in an interview with the Egyptian newspaper al-Shuruq on Monday.
The military rulers think that they are the legitimate authorities despite the existence of the newly elected body. In fact, the military junta wanted to circumvent the work of the newly elected members of the assembly when it appointed a “civilian advisory council,” which in turn suspended its activities until the military stopped the violence and apologized. One-third of its roughly 30 members have quit already.
Egypt and the military are both better served by recognizing the fact that the junta’s ascent to power was ordered by an ousted dictator and that only an elected authority can claim legitimacy. The military rulers should transfer power to the newly elected body, which should adopt the Tunisian model and establish an interim constitution and an interim government until a permanent constitution is adopted and general elections are held.

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December 1, 2011

A Middle East run by Islamists: Should Western Powers Freak Out?

    Thursday, December 01, 2011   No comments

by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*

In 39 days, three Arab countries held critical elections, Tunisia (October 23), Morocco (November 25), and Egypt (November 28-9). Although the elections in these countries have different contexts and implications, the three events have several things in common. First, the elections were made possible directly or indirectly by the Arab Awakening of early 2011. Second, before the Awakening, Western powers had labeled these three countries as “moderate,” a euphemism for undemocratic regimes run by a westernized elite. Last, these elections brought to power Islamist parties and groups that the west has labeled “extremists.” So should western governments now freak out?
In the short run, maybe. In the long run, not at all. Here is why.

November 23, 2011

What can the Egyptians learn from the Tunisian experience?

    Wednesday, November 23, 2011   No comments

by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*

The recent wave of violence in Egypt is new evidence that the Arab peoples want real changes, not cosmetic ones. The military leaders in Tunisia acted professionally and within the mandate of any professional military. They acted to protect the people, not a regime or a constitution that was written by an illegitimate regime. The Tunisian military stood on the side of the people and did not involve itself in politics. That institution now stands admired and respected by all Tunisians. The Tunisian people then elected a new body to lead the transition from authoritarian rule to a pluralistic representative one.

In contrast, during the Egyptian uprising, the Egyptian military stood in the middle. It did not shoot at demonstrators but it also treated Mubarak and his regime with deference. Consequently, the ouster of Mubarak did not delegitimize the institutions of the regime. Moreover, the military leaders acted in manner that preserved their privileged status. It was unwilling to transfer power to civilian authorities unless pressured to do so. The pattern of preserving privilege and power has been undeniable. So no one should be surprised today, when the people came back to the streets to demand the one thing they should have asked for the first time they rose up: the election of constituency assembly that will write a new constitution and establish an interim government.

But the post-Mubarak era is being founded on the institutions of an illegitimate regime. That is the fatal contradiction that is preventing Egypt from moving beyond its past. In a sense, the Egyptian revolution was aborted the minute the military assumed power. There is mounting evidence that the military leaders were not truly interested in keeping the peace while politicians tried to chart a new path to representative government. Instead, the military leaders created committees and commissions to amend the corrupt constitution and issue new ordinances and legal instruments that would limit the power and authority of future elected bodies and individuals.

The military leaders need to realize that credibility of their institution depends on their willingness to operate within the limits of the military proper mandate. Civilian rule, not military rule, is the only way forward. A military government cannot gain legitimacy merely by the consent of political parties, whatever their popularity.

In a reaction to the recent wave of protests, the leader of the High Military Council announced that the military could speed up the transfer of power to civilians if the people demand it in a referendum that the military states it is willing to facilitate. This very statement shows that the military leaders are disingenuous. If they have the time and resources to organize a referendum on staying in power, why not organize an election to elect a body that will govern and decide on the transition to representative governance instead? Moreover, if the military thinks that it is possible to hold one round of elections on November 28, why delay other rounds of elections to weeks later? The military leaders do not seem to understand that they lack legitimacy since they inherited power from a deposed ruler. Many Egyptians are now realizing this and they are not willing to allow the status quo to stand.
* Prof. SOUAIAIA teaches at the University of Iowa. He is the author of Politics of Appearances. Opinions expressed herein are the author’s, speaking as a citizen on matters of public interest; not speaking for the university or any other organization with which he is affiliated.

October 6, 2011

Will Egypt Have A Revolution?

    Thursday, October 06, 2011   No comments

The Arab Spring has reached its first autumn, and it is still not clear whether Egypt will have a revolution. In my view, it hasn’t had one yet. The Mubarak family attempted a revolution of its own early in the year, replacing the military-business regime that has ruled the country since the 1950s with a dynastic dictatorship. The military beat that revolution back with the help of popular demonstrations; the Mubaraks are gone, but the military state at the core of Eygptian power since Nasser’s time lives on.
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September 29, 2011

Military is trickle-feeding democracy to change-hungry Egyptians

    Thursday, September 29, 2011   No comments
by Ahmed E. SOUAIAIA*
It is not quite clear if the Egyptian military rulers are miser politicians or experts in brinkmanship. Whatever the case may be, the slow transition to civilian rule is frustrating many Egyptians. After months of delays, the Supreme Council of the

Armed Forces (SCAF), the de facto rulers since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, announced on September 27, 2011 that the first round of elections will start November 21. Parties and individuals can start nominating candidates on Oct. 12. The fact that the elections of the two chambers will be spread over a period of two full months is significant in and of itself. However, what was not announced is far more consequential and that is a date for the presidential elections.

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