After Egypt’s Referendum: What Lies Ahead?

(This was first published by the European Council on Foreign Relations on its website)

The Egyptian authorities hoped that the constitutional referendum would draw a line under the question of the legitimacy of the July 3 regime and they are showing all the signs of believing that the 98 percent ‘Yes’ vote means they have achieved that. Less than 40 percent of eligible voters took the opportunity to use their vote, but only around 41 percent voted in the first constitutional amendment vote in March 2011, and even less voted for the constitution put together under the watch of ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi. Continue reading After Egypt’s Referendum: What Lies Ahead?

If Sisi runs, and if he does not

If Sisi gives in to temptation and runs for president, the July 3 regime may not last. If he does not, he gives it a chance. If he runs, the July 3 regime continues to define itself as a new beginning, undermining the transformative power of January 25, and in the process dooms itself to failure, but if he does not run it will have a chance to become another chapter in the long process of reconstituting Egyptian politics and society begun on Jan 25. Continue reading If Sisi runs, and if he does not

Egypt’s Revolution That Was

(This article was first published by the European Council on Foreign Relations)

The semantic battle over Egypt’s upheavals of the past three years have been as fierce as the conflict on the ground: was it a revolution or an uprising, was it “stolen” by the Islamists or did they claim their rightful place at its helm, was June 30/July 3 a revolution or a coup? This week’s referendum on the post-Islamist constitution is not only intended by the military regime to consecrate their removal of elected president Mohammed Morsi but bring to an end the entire period of uprising, to begin to draw a line under the revolution itself – a process that will be completed in stages via subsequent presidential and parliamentary elections. Three key institutions of the Mubarak era have reasserted themselves with a vengeance, the military, the security apparatus and the judiciary. Through forms of mass media manipulation born in the early Nasserist years of the military republic and perfected under Mubarak’s police state, the regime has been able to impose a sort of moratorium on revolutionary activity – demands for social, economic and political justice, often made via protests and strikes.   Continue reading Egypt’s Revolution That Was

Egypt’s Salafis: ‘New Brothers’ walking a political minefield

(This article was first published by the European Council on Foreign Relations on its website)

One of the most intriguing turns of the post-uprising scene in Egypt has been the emergence of the Salafi movement – as a political force, as a rival to the Muslim Brotherhood, and most recently as an ally of the July 3 military regime. The Salafi Nour party’s general secretary Galal Murra appeared on television as one of the handful of pliant politicians flanking General Abdulfattah al-Sisi as he announced the removal of elected president Mohammed Morsi last year after mass protests against Brotherhood rule. Since then the party’s leadership has remained faithful to the new regime as its conflict with the Brotherhood intensified and a hysterical anti-Islamist atmosphere ensued. Continue reading Egypt’s Salafis: ‘New Brothers’ walking a political minefield

Stakes high in Egypt as constitution referendum approaches

(This article was written for the European Council on Foreign Relations and appeared on its website)
Egypt’s government is ratcheting up pressure to the maximum to persuade Egyptians to take part in the referendum on the post-coup constitution and to vote yes. The stakes for the regime are high as the referendum has come to be seen as a test of the viability of the order established by the armed forces after they removed the elected Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi last July. As commentator Wahid Abdel-Meguid said at an Egyptian Organization of Human Rights conference on the constitution this week, “a 70 percent ‘yes’ vote among a 60 percent turnout is better than 90 percent approval from a 30 percent turnout”.  Continue reading Stakes high in Egypt as constitution referendum approaches