What Next?

The latest from STRATFOR:

Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman delivered the following statement Feb. 11: “In the name of God the merciful, the compassionate, citizens, during these very difficult circumstances Egypt is going through, President Hosni Mubarak has decided to step down from the office of president of the republic and has charged the high council of the armed forces to administer the affairs of the country. May God help everybody.”

Suleiman’s statement is the clearest indication thus far that the military has carried out a coup led by Defense Minister Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi. It is not clear whether Suleiman will remain as the civilian head of the army-led government. Egypt is returning to the 1952 model of ruling the state via a council of army officers. The question now is to what extent the military elite will share power with its civilian counterparts.

At a certain point, the opposition’s euphoria will subside and demands for elections will be voiced. The United States, while supportive of the military containing the unrest, also has a strategic need to see Egypt move toward a more pluralistic system.

Whether the military stays true to its commitment to hold elections on schedule in September remains to be seen. If elections are held, however, the military must have a political vehicle in place to counter opposition forces, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood. The fate of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) thus lies in question. Without the NDP, the regime will have effectively collapsed and the military could run into greater difficulty in running the country. While the military council will be serving as the provisional government, it will likely want to retain as much of the ruling NDP as possible and incorporate elements of the opposition to manage the transition. Sustaining its hold over power while crafting a democratic government will be the biggest challenge for the military as it tries to avoid regime change while also dealing with a potential constitutional crisis.

Barry Rubin weighs in here, with customary acuity.

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7 Comments

  1. the one eyed man says

    A remarkable day. It is extremely rare (or possibly unique)for a dictator to be removed because of a spontaneous and non-violent public movement, and it’s happened twice in the past month.

    Let’s hope that today is Egypt’s July 4, and Egypt is able to make the transition to become a secular Islamic democracy like Turkey, Malaysia, or Indonesia.

    Posted February 11, 2011 at 9:38 pm | Permalink
  2. JK says

    Peter,

    I’ve a question as to your understanding, you’ve written, “…a secular Islamic democracy like Turkey, Malaysia, or Indonesia.”

    Mind, I’m just curious – of patricular interest to me, is Turkey. I’m aware of course of “peculiar ‘punishments’ in Indonesia (which, coming especially from you, pique my interest) Malaysia to a lesser degree.

    There was an NYT essay on the 10th by a certain Essam El-Errian wherein I notice a differentian of sorts of your descriptor – Mr. El-Errian used “civil” whereas you use “secular.”

    As you Peter, see it, is there a difference?

    Posted February 11, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Permalink
  3. the one eyed man says

    Malaysia, Indonesia, and Turkey all have parliamentary democracies. Whether they are secular or civil is a distinction without a difference.

    I’ve been to Turkey and Indonesia, and you wouldn’t know that you were in a Muslim country unless you looked for it. Women in Malaysia tend to wear Islamic clothing, but aside from that you might not know you were in a Muslim country. You can get booze in all these places, and you don’t get the feeling that they are oppressively religious. In Egypt you definitely know that you’re in a Muslim country, but the vibe is very different from a place like Saudi Arabia, where the Islamic thing is suffocating. Since Egypt has a lot more in common culturally with Malaysia, Indonesia, and Turkey than with countries like Iran or Saudi Arabia, I would think that their hoped for transition to a secular democracy will be less of a leap than it may appear to be.

    Posted February 12, 2011 at 12:31 am | Permalink
  4. JK says

    I agree with pretty much all you say Peter. My only hesitation arises from geography – and necessity.

    Posted February 12, 2011 at 2:19 am | Permalink
  5. Dom says

    Did you see what that idiot Ahmadinejad has been saying. Mick Hartley’s blog has it:

    http://mickhartley.typepad.com/blog/2011/02/the-hand-of-imam.html

    Posted February 12, 2011 at 5:33 pm | Permalink
  6. howsurprising says

    http://artofmanliness.com/2011/02/11/lessons-in-manliness-from-the-egyptian-revolution/

    Posted February 12, 2011 at 10:15 pm | Permalink
  7. JK says

    “Women in Malaysia tend to wear Islamic clothing, but aside from that you might not know you were in a Muslim country.”

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/malaysiareligionislamvalentine

    Posted February 12, 2011 at 11:42 pm | Permalink