Saturday, February 12, 2011

What's Next For Egypt?

The crowd in Cairo is jubilant!!  But, as much as they are wishing for democracy and freedom is this a be careful what you wish for moment?  The Egyptians have ousted Mubarak so what exactly lies in their future?  Does Egypt have the structure in place to be able to start a democracy?  Or is a Khumeini-like individual going to emerge to the forefront and misrepresent himself as being for the people like Khumeini did in Iran?   While I do see some signs of hope for the Egyptians' future I find it eerily similar due to the fact that this revolution and ousting of Mubarak the dictator happened on exactly the 32nd anniversary of the Shah falling in Iran.  Plus, we had a pro-Big Government president in 1979, named Jimmy Carter who royally screwed up our relations with the Middle East and now we have Obama who is an Ultra pro-Big Government president who is royally screwing up our Middle East relations again.  In addition, the way that both Carter interacted with the Middle East's leaders in the past and how Obama is interacting with Middle East leaders today, in screwing our allies while appeasing our enemies I wonder whose interests he's really looking out for?  It certainly doesn't look like Obama is looking out for America's best interests today.

I think that this is a momentous occasion which gives the people of Egypt the possibility of following the model of freedom and democracy, following in Iraq's footsteps.  As I was watching the news coverage of people shouting in the streets cheering in the streets shouting the word freedom in celebration of Mubarak having stepped down I saw in particular one person who said that he wanted democracy, that he wanted to follow the model of deomcracy in Iraq and I couldn't help but wonder whether Geroge W. Bush had a hand in today's events.  Without George Bush having the courage to stand up for freedom, not merely spouting words like other politicians,  would Iraq have become a beacon of democracy of freedom in the Middle East?  He was willing to walk the walk instead of just talking the talk and he toppled a ruthless dictator. Without Bush having initiated a democracy in Iraq would any of these uprisings in the Middle East and Africa have occurred?  Would they have had any hope to topple their leader who was oppressing them?  Hopefully, terrorist organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood and terrorist sympathizers won't take advantage of this chaotic situation and fill the vacuum.  Now the military holds the keys and the future of Egypt is in the palm of the military's hand.

I thought it would be a good idea to look up Egypt's background on history, government makeup, demographics, and resources so here is a brief summary from the CIA World Factbook:


The regularity and richness of the annual Nile River flood, coupled with semi-isolation provided by deserts to the east and west, allowed for the development of one of the world's great civilizations. A unified kingdom arose circa 3200 B.C., and a series of dynasties ruled in Egypt for the next three millennia. The last native dynasty fell to the Persians in 341 B.C., who in turn were replaced by the Greeks, Romans, and Byzantines. It was the Arabs who introduced Islam and the Arabic language in the 7th century and who ruled for the next six centuries. A local military caste, the Mamluks took control about 1250 and continued to govern after the conquest of Egypt by the Ottoman Turks in 1517. Following the completion of the Suez Canal in 1869, Egypt became an important world transportation hub, but also fell heavily into debt. Ostensibly to protect its investments, Britain seized control of Egypt's government in 1882, but nominal allegiance to the Ottoman Empire continued until 1914. Partially independent from the UK in 1922, Egypt acquired full sovereignty with the overthrow of the British-backed monarchy in 1952. The completion of the Aswan High Dam in 1971 and the resultant Lake Nasser have altered the time-honored place of the Nile River in the agriculture and ecology of Egypt. A rapidly growing population (the largest in the Arab world), limited arable land, and dependence on the Nile all continue to overtax resources and stress society. The government has struggled to meet the demands of Egypt's growing population through economic reform and massive investment in communications and physical infrastructure.

Natural Resources:
Petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, phosphates, manganese, limestone, gypsum, talc, asbestos, lead, rare earth elements, zinc

80,471,869 (July 2010 est.) 
Muslim (mostly Sunni) 90%, Coptic 9%, other Christian 1%


28 February 1922 (from UK protectorate status; the revolution that began 23 July 1952 led to a republic being declared on 18 June 1953 and all British troops withdrawn 18 June 1956); note - it was in ca. 3200 B.C. that the Two Lands of Upper (southern) and Lower (northern) Egypt were first united politically


11 September 1971; amended 22 May 1980, 25 May 2005, and 26 March 2007
Legal system:

Based on Islamic and civil law (particularly Napoleonic codes); judicial review by Supreme Court and Council of State (oversees validity of administrative decisions); accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations

Executive branch:

Chief of state: President Mohamed Hosni MUBARAK (since 14 October 1981); Vice President Omar SOLIMAN (since 31 January 2011)  This has changed. 

Head of government: Prime Minister Ahmed SHAFIK (since 31 January 2011);Deputy Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein TANTAWI (since 1 February 2011) I believe he is the person in power now. 

Cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president; note - a new cabinet was sworn in on 31 January 2011

Elections: president elected by popular vote for a six-year term (no term limits); note - a national referendum in May 2005 approved a constitutional amendment that changed the presidential election to a multicandidate popular vote; previously the president was nominated by the People's Assembly and the nomination was validated by a national, popular referendum; last referendum held on 26 September 1999; first election under terms of the constitutional amendment held on 7 September 2005 (next scheduled for 2011)
election results: Hosni MUBARAK reelected president; percent of vote - Hosni MUBARAK 88.6%, Ayman NOUR 7.6%, Noman GOMAA 2.9%

Legislative branch:

Bicameral system consists of the Advisory Council or Majlis al-Shura (Shura Council) that traditionally functions only in a consultative role (264 seats; 176 members elected by popular vote, 88 appointed by the president; members serve six-year terms; mid-term elections for half of the elected members) and the People's Assembly or Majlis al-Sha'b (518 seats; 508 members elected by popular vote, 64 seats reserved for women, 10 appointed by the president; members serve five-year terms)

elections: Advisory Council - last held in June 2007 (next to be held in 2013); People's Assembly - last held in November-December 2010 in one round of voting and one run-off election (next to be held in 2015)

election results: Advisory Council - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NDP 80, Al-Geel 1, Nasserist 1, NWP 1, Tagammu 1, Tomorrow Party 1, independents 3; People's Assembly - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NDP 419, NWP 6, Tagammu 5, Democratic Peace Party 1, Social Justice Party 1, Tomorrow Party 1, independents 71, seats undecided 4, seats appointed by president 10

Judicial branch:

Supreme Constitutional Court

Political parties and leaders:

Al-Geel; Democratic Peace Party; Nasserist Party [Ahmed HASSAN]; National Democratic Party or NDP (governing party) [Mohamed Hosni MUBARAK]; National Progressive Unionist Grouping or Tagammu [Rifaat EL-SAID]; New Wafd Party or NWP [Sayed EL-BEDAWY]; Social Justice Party [Mohamed Abdel Al HASAN]; Tomorrow Party [Ayman NOURI]
note: formation of political parties must be approved by the government; only parties with representation in elected bodies are listed

Political pressure groups and leaders:

Muslim Brotherhood (technically illegal)
note: despite a constitutional ban against religious-based parties and political activity, the technically illegal Muslim Brotherhood constitutes Egypt's most potentially significant political opposition; President MUBARAK has alternated between tolerating limited political activity by the Brotherhood and blocking its influence (its members compete as independents in elections but do not currently hold any seats in the legislature); civic society groups are sanctioned, but constrained in practical terms; only trade unions and professional associations affiliated with the government are officially sanctioned; Internet social networking groups and bloggers.

In my next post on Egypt I will focus on why the Muslim Brotherhood must not be allowed to have a place in Egypt's government and expose just how dangerous the organization really is.

This is a tumultuous situation which calls for our thoughts and prayers.

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