Saturday, February 05, 2011

Interest groups in Egypt

A detailed discussion at Aljazeera English:

The "March of Millions" in Cairo marks the spectacular emergence of a new political society in Egypt. This uprising brings together a new coalition of forces, uniting reconfigured elements of the security state with prominent business people, internationalist leaders, and relatively new (or newly reconfigured) mass movements of youth, labour, women's and religious groups. President Hosni Mubarak lost his political power on Friday, January 28.

On that night the Egyptian military let Mubarak's ruling party headquarters burn down and ordered the police brigades attacking protesters to return to their barracks. When the evening call to prayer rang out and no one heeded Mubarak's curfew order, it was clear that the old president been reduced to a phantom authority. In order to understand where Egypt is going, and what shape democracy might take there, we need to set the extraordinarily successful popular mobilisations into their military, economic and social context. What other forces were behind this sudden fall of Mubarak from power? And how will this transitional military-centred government get along with this millions-strong protest movement?


Eygptian internationalism  

One final element to examine here is the critical, and often overlooked role that Egypt has played in United Nations and humanitarian organizations, and how this history is coming back to enliven domestic politics and offer legitimacy and leadership at this time. Muhammad ElBaradei, the former director of the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency, has emerged as the consensus choice of the United Democratic Front in Egypt, which is asking him to serve as interim president, and to preside over a national process of consensus building and constitution drafting. In the 2000s, ElBaradei bravely led the IAEA and was credited with confirming that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and that Iran was not developing a nuclear weapons program.

He won the Nobel Prize for upholding international law against a new wave of wars of aggression and for essentially stopping the momentum for war against Iran. He is no radical and not Egypt’s Gandhi; but he is no pushover or puppet of the US, either. For much of the week, standing at his side at the protests has been Egyptian actor Khaled Abou Naga, who has appeared in several Egyptian and American films, and who serves as Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF. This may be much more a UN-humanitarian led revolution than a Muslim Brotherhood uprising. This is a very twenty-first century regime change – simultaneously local and international.
Image:  Tahrir Square

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