Monday, 7 February 2011

Endgame in Egypt?

In Foreign Affairs magazine, Egypt’s Democratic Mirage: How Cairo’s Authoritarian Regime Is Adapting to Preserve Itself. Joshua Stacher argues that the army has actively and successfully protected the regime, while playing the part of protector of the people:
Despite the tenacity, optimism, and blood of the protesters massed in Tahrir Square, Egypt's democratic window has probably already closed.
[...]
Although many of the protesters, foreign governments, and analysts have concentrated on the personality of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, those surrounding the embattled president, who make up the wider Egyptian regime, have made sure the state's viability was never in question. This is because the country's central institution, the military, which historically has influenced policy and commands near-monopolistic economic interests, has never balked.
More, via The Arabist.

Is it over? And even if this event is over, is it all over?

To the question, is the army on the side of the people, or on the side of the regime, the answer always has to be the army is on the side of the army. The real question always was and still is, where does the army believe its interests lie? Not with Mubarak for much longer, but then what? It depends on how strong the forces of change are. If those forces are strong enough, the army will change in order to preserve itself.

The army is not an individual, but a group, and it cannot wholly isolate itself from wider changes in the nation, and in the global culture. The national culture has shown itself to be capable of radical changes, and those changes are obviously linked to broad long term escalating international technological and cultural forces.

Alongside that, the army’s closest international ally is the US, and this must be important culturally as well as economically. How do younger members of the Egyptian military regard their organisation compared with the US military: the world’s most advanced, and under democratic control?

The army entered the square. But in this future-now world everywhere becomes part of the public square, even the army, even the barracks. Change won’t be shut out.
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More on the Egyptian army in The New York Times: Egypt Stability Hinges on a Divided Military, by Elisabeth Bushmiller.

My 36 Hours in Egyptian Captivity, by Dan Williams of Human Rights Watch:
There was no doubt that the army was in charge of the raid. At one point, a major general showed up at the Hisham Mubarak center and other officers worked hand in glove with a uniformed policeman, plainclothes state security agents and assorted abusive henchmen.
More. See also: Two Detained Reporters Saw Police’s Methods, from Friday’s New York Times.
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Egypt: Revolution Pessoptimism, from The Traveller Within, refering to the release of blogger Wael Ghonim.

Al Jazeera: Blogger’s release ‘reignites’ Egypt.

The Guardian: Facebook campaigner Wael Ghonim strikes a chord on Egyptian television.

The Wall Street Journal: Google Executive Emerges as Key Figure in Revolt.
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Also in the WSJ: Foreign Islamists Get Little Support in Egypt.

At Foreign Policy, Is it time to send in the lawyers? Nathan J. Brown on Egypt’s boobytrap constitution.

On revolutions and what follows after, The revolution of flowers: to thaw in dancing jasmines, by Bob from Brockley.

On the BBC World Service, Mubarak’s Egypt, from 2009, on lots of stuff, including the army.

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