The Great Debate UK
The Muslim Brotherhood is treading cautiously in the new Egypt, assuring the military government and fellow Egyptians that it does not want power and trying to dispel fears about its political strength. The target of decades of state oppression, the Brotherhood wants to preserve the freedoms it is enjoying under the new military-led administration that took power from Hosni Mubarak.
So far, signs are encouraging for the Brotherhood: an eight-man judicial council appointed to propose democratic changes to the constitution includes one of its members. But experts say the Islamists remain wary of the military. That partly explains why they have gone out of their way to say they are not seeking power -- a reiteration of a position they have long espoused to avoid confrontation with the state.
The Brotherhood has said it will not field a candidate for president and will not contest enough seats to clinch a majority in parliament. The message, experts say, is partly aimed abroad, especially at the United States, which has expressed some concern over the role the Brotherhood might play in the post-Mubarak Egypt.
from The Great Debate:
By Philip N. Howard, author of "The Digital Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Information Technology and Political Islam," and director of the Project on Information Technology and Political Islam at the University of Washington. The opinions expressed are his own.
President Obama identified technology as one of the key variables that enabled and encouraged average Egyptians to protest. Digital media didn’t oust Mubarak, but it did provide the medium by which soulful calls for freedom have cascaded across North Africa and the Middle East. It is difficult to know when the Arab Spring will end, but we can already say something about the political casualties, long-term regional consequences and the modern recipe for democratization.
By Margaret Doyle
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.
LONDON -- Switzerland has just made life a bit more difficult for despots. The country's decision to freeze assets belonging to Hosni Mubarak after he was ousted smacks of hypocrisy: after all, the former Egyptian president and his family have long been suspected of enriching themselves at the country's expense. But in the absence of a global deal to stop heads of state from exporting the spoils of office, Switzerland's approach is better than nothing.
from Chrystia Freeland:
The uprising in Egypt has provoked the familiar “realism-versus-idealism” foreign policy debate in many Western capitals, as diplomats and politicians struggle to balance their ideological sympathy for the protesters against fears of chaos and the threat of a future anti-Western and anti-Israel policy from Cairo if the people do win.
What we have paid less attention to is that the demonstrations have forced some of the world’s hottest technology companies to engage in a very similar debate. The conclusions these technorati end up drawing may be as significant as the verdicts of Western governments. This new intellectual battleground is a further sign that in the age of the Internet and the global economy, foreign policy doesn’t belong just to professionals or to states any more.
from Pakistan: Now or Never?:
The Egyptian uprising contains much that is familiar to Pakistan - the dark warnings of a coup, in Egypt's case delivered by Vice President Omar Suleiman, the role of political Islam, and a relationship with the United States distorted by U.S. aid and American strategic interests which do not match those of the people.
President Hosni Mubarak cited Pakistan as an example of what happened when a ruler like President Pervez Musharraf - like himself from the military - was forced to make way for democracy. "He fears that Pakistan is on the brink of falling into the hands of the Taliban, and he puts some of the blame on U.S. insistence on steps that ultimately weakened Musharraf," a 2009 U.S. embassy cable published by WikiLeaks said.
from The Great Debate:
By Mohamed A. El-Erian
El-Erian is the CEO of PIMCO. He spent part of his childhood in Egypt where his father was a professor of international law at Cairo University and then served as an Egyptian diplomat and was elected to the International Court of Justice in 1978. The opinions expressed are his own.
While Egyptians are yet to specify the final destination for their revolution -- and only they can, and should do so -- there is little doubt in my mind that the country is now on a new, bold and uncertain road toward greater democracy and individual freedoms. The next few days and weeks will be critical in determining the journey for a country that is central to the stability of the Middle East.
Part of the problem trying to figure out what Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood or Tunisia's Ennahda party would do if they got into any future power structure in their countries is knowing what kind of Islamists they are. The label "Islamist" pops up frequently these days, in comments and warnings and (yes) news reports, but the term is so broad that it even covers groups that oppose each other. Just as the Muslim world is not a bloc, the Islamist world is not a bloc.
from Chrystia Freeland:
It has been a bad couple of weeks for what Vitali Silitski, a political scientist, calls the Authoritarian International.
Mr. Silitski is from Belarus — a good background for studying authoritarian rulers — and he is a student of the troubling way in which the world’s autocrats responded to the “color” revolutions in some former Soviet republics a few years ago by increasing repression at home and forming a loose international support group.
Egypt's financial system faces a moment of truth. The country didn't have an economic crisis before the past ten days of protests began. But its banks and stock exchange have been closed for a week. When they reopen, starting on Sunday, the fear is that the political turmoil could prompt a financial meltdown.
The central bank is due to reopen on Sunday, while stock market trading will resume the next day – though that could be delayed if violent clashes continue. So far, markets across the Mid-East region have largely ignored the unrest. Yet before the Egyptian market closed, there were signs that investors were fleeing.
If President Hosni Mubarak bows to the clamor of the street and goes, Egyptians and other Arabs seeking to turn a page on autocratic government may look at Turkey for some clues on marrying Islam and democracy.