Where Will Egypt Go Next?


Paul Pillar lays down some scenarios for a post-Parliament world:

The next near-term chapter of this story will hinge on the outcome of the second round of the presidential election. A victory by Shafik has the greatest potential to trigger an upsurge of unrest and violence, if many Egyptians come to see it as affirmation that a hoped-for revolution has been effectively reversed. There is some talk of Morsi perhaps being made prime minister under a Shafik presidency, although that would depend on understandings yet to be reached between the Brotherhood and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. Possibly a Shafik win would be a first step toward a power structure similar to that in Algeria, in which the president is an important player but has only partial autonomy from the military-dominated pouvoir, which more or less corresponds to what in Egypt is more often called the deep state. There would be less likelihood of violence and severe instability with a Morsi win, but that would be only the first stage in a long process of bargaining and maneuvering between the Brotherhood and the military.

Lauren Bohn profiles those Egyptians who support Shafiq and other members of the old regime:

With many Egyptians worried by a gaping security and leadership vacuum since last year's uprising, Shafiq attracts voters who’ve become tired, if not angered, by Egypt’s revolutionaries. They see the military as the only institution that can prevent complete turmoil. In the villages that surround Shafiq’s Nile Delta offices, residents curse Tahrir Square, the epicenter of last year’s pro-democracy uprising. In a small village of Minia El Kamh, Heba Ahmed, says she’s nostalgic for the days before the revolution when “everything wasn’t so uncertain.” Shafiq has drawn support from people like Ahmed, state employees, and security forces and their families, as well as influential businessmen and members of the former ruling NDP party. Some Coptic Christians, who make up around 10 percent of Egyptian society, also voted for him as a bulwark against the rising power of Islamists.

Juan Cole thinks the Brotherhood has squandered whatever good will it had:

There is certainly a case to be made that the Muslim Brotherhood behaved badly. Its leaders knew what they were doing when they ran candidates as “independents.” Once it got a working majority in parliament, the Brotherhood gave every evidence of seeking to make itself the one party in a new one-party state. It tried to stack the Constituent Assembly charged with writing a new constitution with its members. And, after promising not to run a presidential candidate (so as to reassure the electorate that it wasn’t trying to dominate both the executive and the legislature), its leaders abruptly changed their minds and put up a presidential candidate. Moreover, the man they put forward, Khairat al-Shater, is an allegedly corrupt businessman whose corruption cases caused him to be ruled ineligible. The Brotherhood was charged with using its dominance of parliament to dole out patronage to relatives of its MPs and officials.

Daniel Serwer counters:

It is hard for me to picture a new parliamentary election that doesn’t produce a strong Muslim Brotherhood showing.  It may not be as strong as their 48% of the seats won by the MB’s Freedom and Justice party in the last polls, but it is still likely to be the plurality. Will the military permit it to happen?  I have no idea, but their performance to date suggests a determination to hold on to power that is profoundly anti-democratic.

Joseph Farag throws up his hands:

Just days before Egyptians head to the polls for the second round of presidential voting, the ramifications of the call to dissolve parliament are unknown.  The dissolution of parliament, the prospect of a Shafiq presidential win, and the recent announcement that the military police will have the right to arrest civilians has resulted in a chorus cry about a military coup in disguise.  Given all that has transpired to date, any attempt to predict what will happen next is sheer folly.

Recent Dish on Egypt's parliament dissolution here and here.

(Photo: Egyptians gather to protest in Tahrir Square on June 15, 2012 in Cairo, Egypt. Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court ruled that the Islamist-led Parliament must be immediately dissolved, and also allowed the right of Hosni Mubarak's last prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, to run for president. Egyptian candidates Mohamed Morsi and Ahmed Shafiq are pegged against each other in the second round of voting for the country's president to be held on the 16th and 17th of June. By Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images.)