Saturday, February 12, 2011

"Egypt isn't moving toward democracy, it's moved into martial law and where it goes is now subject to debate."

From Reuters, 12 Feb, by Samia Nakhoul and Andrew Hammond* 2011:

...Behind the celebrations, there was a note of caution over how far the armed forces under Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, Mubarak's veteran defense minister, were ready to permit democracy, especially since the hitherto banned Islamist Muslim Brotherhood is one of the best organized movements.

"This is just the end of the beginning," said Jon Alterman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"Egypt isn't moving toward democracy, it's moved into martial law and where it goes is now subject to debate."

U.S. officials familiar with the Egyptian military say Tantawi, 75, has long seemed resistant to change.

Suleiman, a 74-year-old former spy chief, annoyed some this week by questioning whether Egyptians were ready for democracy.

Al Arabiya television said the army would soon dismiss the cabinet and suspend parliament. The head of the Constitutional Court would join the leadership with the military council.

The best deterrent to any attempt to maintain military rule could be the street power of protesters who showed Mubarak they could render Egypt ungovernable without their consent.

But as continued turmoil in Tunisia shows a month after the overthrow of the strongman there inspired young Egyptians to act, any government will face huge social and economic problems.

*Reporting by Samia Nakhoul, Edmund Blair, Marwa Awad, Yasmine Saleh, Dina Zayed, Shaimaa Fayed, Alexander Dziadosz, Sherine El Madany, Patrick Werr, Alistair Lyon, Tom Perry, Andrew Hammond, Jonathan Wright, Peter Millership and Alison Williams in Cairo and Christian Lowe in Algiers; Writing by Alastair Macdonald; Editing by Louise Ireland.
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