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Tag Archives: Egypt
Any new permanent government will face the choice Morsi had but never made: market economic reforms on the one hand and a command-and-control statist economy on the other. By Ben W. Heineman, Jr. (This article first appeared on TheAtlantic.com, where … Continue reading
By Ben W. Heineman Jr. (This article first appeared on TheAtlantic.com, where Ben Heineman writes frequently) The international media have made a huge story out of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s power-consolidating decrees and the balloting on his proposed constitution. How … Continue reading
By Ehud Eiran Former Associate and Research Fellow, International Security Program, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs As we mark the one-year anniversary of the Egyptian revolution, Israelis watch with concern the instability around them. In a Jan. 23 … Continue reading
By Ben W. Heineman Jr. Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs Note: This commentary first appeared on TheAtlantic.com. The economy was an important cause of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s overthrow. The Mubarak regime failed to deal with … Continue reading
The Power & Policy Fellows’ Forum By Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs We must remain especially vigilant over the next weeks and months. There is likely to be a global spike in terrorist threats … Continue reading
The Power & Policy Fellows’ Forum By Gerard Russell 2010 Fellow, Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Harvard Kennedy School Cairo is often shrouded in polluted fog — coloring the vision just slightly, and noticeable especially to the visitor. A … Continue reading
Having wandered recently among the orange-red dunes of the Arabian desert, my mind is filled with analogies about shifting sands, blurred vision, and the stark clarity that can come when the winds settle down. The winds on this peninsula and … Continue reading
The Power Problem is an occasional series of mini-forums on Power & Policy, asking specialists from the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School to suggest policy responses by the United States to pressing world issues. … Continue reading
Since Anwar Sadat took over from Gamal Abdel Nasser more than 40 years ago, Egypt has gone through episodic waves of economic liberalization, from privatization to changes in fiscal/monetary policy to sectoral restructuring.
However, during this period of start-stop economic reform, there was no meaningful reform of the constitutional structure and the political system.
A closed, unaccountable polity led to the cries for freedom, demands for constitutional change and insistence on legitimate governmental institutions in Tahrir Square.
But, so, too, many Egyptians viewed the economic system as illegitimate, imposed upon them by corrupt and profligate elites for their own benefit and not affirmed through transparent processes secured by societal consensus.
Although the media have recently refocused on protests and conflicts arising in other Mid-East nations, the post-Mubarak transition, now not the stuff of front-page stories, is of surpassing importance to the future of the region. This transition will involve both a revision of the constitution to increase legitimacy and formation of a government after new elections, which will seek to adopt social and economic policies with greater transparency and wider acceptance.
Sitting on the sidelines as students and workers poured into Tahrir Square for the initial demonstrations that ultimately brought down Hosni Mubarak were the well organized cells of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, known in Arabic as the brothers, or the Ikhwan. Their leadership decided to hold back and see what developed in the protests. Why?
Among the many reasons considered by the Ikhwan leaders was probably the simple fact that the protesters in the square were not their people. Many of the protesters were secular democrats, some were even Coptic Christians. A large number were women. The Ikhwan has always stood for an Islamic religious state, where the government would enforce strict interpretations of Islamic law, not a place for secularists, Christians, or activist women. For decades their view of democracy had been as one possible means to gain power, but in the sense that the Algerian Islamists viewed elections: “one man, one vote, one time.”
When it was clear, however, that the Egyptian movement was powerful and might succeed, the Ikhwan joined in. They were invited to the table to negotiate with Mubarak’s Vice President. After Mubarak fell, they were invited to appoint a representative on the new committee to recommend constitutional change.