Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Run! Hide! An analysis of the Egyptian elections

Posted by Charles II on December 1, 2011

The right wing is doubtless cowering under their desks at the news that the first round of the Egyptians may have brought an outright majority to Islamists (The Muslim Brotherhood 40% and the Salafis 25%). I don’t see the actual percentages reported in the New York Times (they finally appeared here), and The Guardian isn’t exactly headlining them. But, if confirmed, they are an important headline, though probably not for the reasons the right (I assume) expects.

Let me preface this by saying I have no more than a generic understanding of Egyptian politics. My one strength is that I have not polluted my mind by listening to the Murdoch or the hasbara networks.

First, there are additional elections, these outside the major cities. My guess is that the current regime is stronger in the countryside (or more able to manipulate results). So, the margin may fade.

Second, the Muslim Brotherhood has stated that it does not plan to form a coalition with the al-Nour (Salafist) party. It is more likely to reach out to elements of the secular but fragmented Egyptian Bloc, which agrees on nothing except the idea that Islamic Law should not dominate government. Naturally, at the end of the day, you make whatever deals are necessary to get a majority in parliament, so the Muslim Brotherhood might yet ally with the Salafists, but my guess is that they’ll do everything they can to avoid it.

Third, and most important, the military dictatorship remains in power. Whoever gains parliamentary power will either be in direct opposition to or in support of the dictatorship. There is no middle of the road. And the Resistance, which is largely secular, is going to be looking to whoever leads the majority to, in effect, end military rule. It’s my guess that the military will do almost anything necessary to avoid that, perhaps including simply overthrowing the elected government. But, this being Egypt, what’s even more likely is to reconstruct a mask over the military government with the agreement that the oligarchy has to surrender some power and the Salafis get some concessions to Islamic law. The Brotherhood is tactically brilliant–the only reason it still exists–and cannot be written off. But winning the Egyptian elections is sort of like winning a vacation to Kilauea.

The hardest fighting, and the greatest danger of Egypt drifting into some new form of authoritarian rule is still ahead. If the Brotherhood stands down the military dictatorship, they will gain dominance in Egypt. If not, they’ll very likely end up back as an underground organization.

It’s kind of a shame that our State Department has so thoroughly discredited secular democracy by its constant equation of oligarchy with democracy. Back in the time of Ataturk, the Middle East actually wanted to emulate the West.

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Added: Right on cue, howls from CFR or, at lower levels of the evolutionary scale, Allahpundit.

Now, I have to say, they could be right that this will end up with Egypt as the next , oh, say, Saudi Arabia. But considering how these guys don’t seem to know their a– from their elbows on why the different parties exist and what their supporters are trying to achieve, I’d rather be my own ignorant self.

This analysis in The Forward is probably worth reading.

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