Egypt – Arabic For Napoleon – 16 October 2013

Quick, what’s Arabic for Napoleon? Oh, wait, I think I know…

If you think people are still trying to figure out a way for Egyptian democracy to work…maybe they are, but they’ll have to get past General al-Sissi, and his very, very naïve supporters, first.

There was a chance for Egyptians to avoid all of this and actually negotiate a better constitution for their country, but increasingly it’s looking like they blew it. Hard to believe a couple years ago so many of us thought Egypt could be an example to the rest of the Middle East. Egypt may be an example if it continues down this road, but certainly it is not the kind we had hoped it would be.

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2 Responses to Egypt – Arabic For Napoleon – 16 October 2013

  1. David says:

    Egypt can still be a good example for other Middle Eastern powers – but simply a more… complex example.

    Obviously no one wants Eygpt to become Syria; so if they take the slow road to democracy, it will serve as strong evidence and regional pressure that a democratic transition is possible. Not the fast progress we might hope for and another lost generation of Arab youths, but a lack of a speed may indicate a lack of willingness by the military or simply a lack of haste. To paraphrase Zhou’s misinterpreted ( but handy phrase: Outcome of Egypt’s Revolution? Too early to say.

  2. I agree, Egypt _can_ still be a good example for other Middle Eastern powers. But that will be the case if the current government negotiates a new arrangement between the contending groups in Egyptian society. The current government is not headed that direction.

    My impression is that Gen. al-Sissi is actually moving quickly, not slowly. His constitutional solution was to call a “panel” of constitutional reformers and get them to make recommendations for changes to the constitution within the time frame of 60 days. This was proclaimed at the beginning of September, so we’re within that time frame now. (Link: ). Basically, the upshot of this is that Egypt went through a long process to establish the last constitution, but it didn’t go as some may have liked, so they’re replacing this process with a short one designed to produce results they do like.

    There will be a referendum to confirm the results of proposed changes to the constitution, but I suspect that unlike the previous constitutional referendum, there will be intimidation during the voting, given that the military is now, essentially, in hot pursuit of anyone with a long beard. I suspect we will have ample evidence of irregularities in such a vote, but I’m more than willing to wait to see if I’m just being overly suspicious or if that evidence materialises. But I suspect it probably will.

    Democratic form plus a military-led dictatorial reality is what Egypt had with Mubarak before 2011. The rationale for that then was that if real democracy were to be tried, the Brotherhood would take over. Real democracy was tried, the Brotherhood was elected. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least that the significance of al-Sissi is considered to be a collective “See, we told you so” from closet Mubarak supporters.

    But Tunisia is showing real democracy can work, Libya is showing real democracy can work, and Egypt, if it cares to do so, can show that as well. There will be challenges (there certainly are some in Tunisia and Libya), but the democrats can win if they don’t go down roads they’ve already been down to get the bad results they’ve already seen.

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