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calendar   Monday - June 25, 2012

ARAB SPRING OR IS IT WINTER?

Drew has already said it well and so too has Michael Burleigh, writing today in the Daily Mail.

It’s highly doubtful that any of our regulars here at BMEWS are surprised.  But isn’t this what the west wanted when they deserted Mubarak?  Democracy and free elections.  Actually, I’m not clear on what they all wanted except for peace with Israel in their area of control.  I doubt there’s going to be much in the way of democracy.

Anyway, the two tearful ladies here are surely not pleased with the election result.  Might be lots of women in Egypt at this very moment are worried and also not pleased. And who can blame them?


Is Arab spring turning into Arab winter?

By MICHAEL BURLEIGH

This is a victory which will send shock waves throughout the Middle East, emboldening Islamic radicals from Bahrain to Syria to persist in their efforts to topple their regimes, and confirming the Israeli view that the Arab Spring has become an Arab Winter.

Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s new president, is the Arab world’s first elected Islamist head of state. He now rules a nation of 81million people. While there is rejoicing among hardline Hamas supporters in Gaza tonight, Egyptian liberals and secularists will be bitterly disappointed, especially since it was they, rather than the Muslim Brotherhood, who toppled Hosni Mubarak.

The wealthy cosmopolitan middle-classes will be shuddering inside their villas in Cairo’s rich Heliopolis suburb.
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Although optimists hope that Egypt will evolve along the lines of Turkey, which has a moderate Islamic government, the reality is that it is likely to see protracted strife between a still-powerful military – which has until now held all the power – and a strong Islamist movement that will make it more like strife-torn Pakistan.

The army have a lot to lose, while the Brotherhood has everything to gain.

Morsi’s background is typical of the middle class, academic professionals who dominate the Brotherhood’s leadership. He has a doctorate in engineering from the University of Southern California, and worked at Egypt’s Zagazig University. But he is leader in name only, which is why he is known as the ‘spare tyre’. He only ran for president after the ruling Supreme Council of the Army disqualified 62-year-old businessman Khariat Al Shater, the real strategic mind within the Brotherhood.

Al Shater has been in prison four times. He and Morsi represent the conservative strain of the Brotherhood, and rule out women and Christians ever standing as president. They want Egypt to be run along the lines of Saudi Arabia, where women are covered from head to toe and banned from driving, alcohol is forbidden and sharia law is commonplace. The wives of these two men wear the niqab, which covers the face and is unusual in Egypt – except in areas where the Brotherhood’s huge charitable involvement acts like a chill draught in a room.

The military, which thanks to its vast grants from the US still retains considerable power in Egypt, has made a deal with the Brotherhood drastically reducing the new president’s untested powers.

In a sense both sides have been engaged in a game of chicken. The Brotherhood has been using its supporters to flood Tahrir Square and threatening to unleash its trades unions to paralyse an Egyptian economy already limping along because of the collapse of mass tourism.

The generals – who could always fill the streets with troops – have issued a decree which restricts what president Morsi can do.

Morsi has no power over budgets, internal affairs or the army, in a country where the defence budget is 40 per cent of revenue. He may chair a new National Defence Council, but 11 of its 16 members will be serving generals.

But while the army holds many cards, the military’s commercial and industrial interests make it highly vulnerable to charges of institutional corruption of the sort that saw the ousting of Mubarak, himself a former air force general.

Since Mubarak went, relations with Israel have become far chillier. Morsi is a fervent supporter of Israel’s enemy Hamas, the Egyptians have cut off deliveries of natural gas to Israel, and they’ve opened the Sinai border to waves of African migrants who are causing serious law and order problems for the citizens of Tel Aviv.

The world can only watch and wait to see if Israel reacts – and how this uneasy partnership between the generals and the Brotherhood plays out. Many will be fearful, however, if in time the Islamists gain the upper hand.

BURLEIGH


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Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 06/25/2012 at 11:14 AM   
Filed Under: • Middle-East •  
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Oh, and here's some kind of visitor flag counter thingy. Hey, all the cool blogs have one, so I should too. The Visitors Online thingy up at the top doesn't count anything, but it looks neat. It had better, since I paid actual money for it.
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