Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Egyptian Succession as Touchstone of Democracy

All this talk about Democracy in the Middle East is starting to have effect. Unfortunately for the totalitarian governments that have dominated the region for years, the infrastructures of power show signs of coming unglued.

In the same way that Hamas was able to win hearts and minds in Gaza by behaving for a little while, putting up a few schools and clinics, showing a somewhat human face to the populace, the Muslim Brotherhood (The Ikhwan) has been gaining popularity in Egypt. This is not good news for those at the top.

Baheyya's infrequent but incisive reports on the state of Egyptian political movements read like suspense thrillers, except they are not fiction. She must be widely read, but I don't find anyone picking her analysis apart.

Succession is always a tetchy matter for undemocratic regimes, but the danger is even more acute in this case where the man in charge has hogged power for 26 years without cultivating a successor other than his own dull and despised offspring. To thicken the plot, the succession scheme appears to involve elections as both the mechanism and the legitimation of the power handover. How else to interpret the engineering of new constitutional rules to disqualify the regime’s most effective electoral opponent (the Ikhwan) and defang effective electoral monitoring (by the judges)? But as we know, elections are an extraordinarily complicated, exhausting project involving intricate coordination between many sites and very high levels of uncertainty. It’s as if Mubarak’s regime picked the most risky successor possible and planned to install him using the riskiest method possible

This piece is rather long, but worth the read. As I was reading, I couldn't help thinking that what is happening in Egypt is slowly happening all over the region. When it happens in America we call it populism and try to put a good face on it, but whatever it is, when vast numbers of ordinary people get involved more in politics than other daily diversions it is not a good sign for whoever holds the political reins.

Anyone advancing Democracy needs to remember the importance of bread and circuses.


The next generation of young people are pretty smart. It will not be possible to keep the wool pulled over their eyes much longer. Consider this post from Mideast Youth, a wonderful, percolating blog of youngsters from, as the name says, all over the Middle East.

Imagine the chaos and social unrest that would transpire following the pregnancy of a judge…..who’s a woman! It would be madness, what would God think?

This is my prediction and you can hold me to this, immediately following the conception of the baby darkness would fall over the earth, the ground would begin to shake and the earth would open up and swallow whole cities, it would be a catastrophe of epic magnitudes and possibly the onset of the end of days!

Unbelievable, I weep for the future of my country!

Read the whole post and comments. It's not too long but full of energy.

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