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Protests put Egypt politics in flux

A quick round up of analysts views about the situation in Egypt

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January 29, 2011 2:36 by



Police and demonstrators fought running battles on the streets of Cairo on Friday in a fourth day of unprecedented protests by tens of thousands of Egyptians demanding an end to President Hosni Mubarak’s three-decade rule.

Following are analysts views about the situation in Egypt.

FAYSAL ITANI, DEPUTY HEAD, MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA FORECASTING, EXCLUSIVE ANALYSIS

If this continues for several more days you might see a bloodless coup by the army… The protests create space for change to happen, and in these circumstances the people with the most power tend to step in and act: In Egypt it is the military who are the real power brokers.

It seems the army are keeping Mubarak away from the spotlight for the moment. They don’t want him to be the face of the state as he is deeply unpopular.

Behind the scenes, well before the protests, a debate on the succession had been going on. The military has not been confident that the ruling party and the Mubaraks can steady the ship. We see several candidates for the succession: intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, who is popular and seen as not corrupt, Aviation Minister Ahmed Shafiq, a decorated war veteran, and Defence Minister Mohamed Tantawi, who is also commander of the armed forces.

OMAR ASHOUR, EGYPTIAN POLITICAL SCIENTIST, EXETER UNIVERSITY

“It will probably need another week for this to have an decisive effect and draw Mubarak into some sort of engagement. At the moment state media is saying Mubarak is discussing the crisis in Palestine and Lebanon, as if nothing is going on in Egypt.

“The longer this goes on, the more likely it is that the conscripts in the Central Security Forces (CSF) would refuse to fire on the demonstrators. Already we’ve seen a couple of generals in the CSF asking ‘where are the politicians?’, indicating they want this situation resolved.”

RESEARCH NOTE, NOMURA

We continue to put a low probability on outright regime collapse in Egypt, albeit with the caveat that, in common with at least the majority of commentators, we did not anticipate the rapidity with which events advanced in Tunisia a few weeks ago.

…It is by no means clear at this stage that succession by either the younger (Gamal) Mubarak or by (intelligence chief Omar) Suleiman would satisfy the aspirations of those calling for change in Egypt. Many of those calling for change, in common with their Tunisian counterparts, want to see something more far-reaching.

Such sentiments may nevertheless be kept in check at least by the fact that credible organised opposition to the status quo in Egypt revolves largely around the officially-banned Muslim Brotherhood. Contrary to the claims of the authorities in Egypt, we have yet to see any concrete evidence that the Brotherhood is behind, or even significantly supporting, the current unrest

KAMRAN BOKHARI, MIDDLE EAST ANALYST, STRATFOR

The ruling National Democratic Party …(is) already struggling with the military in terms of how to proceed with the transition and now it’s seeing pressure from the streets and the fear is that in an extreme case scenario the military could actually align with the public to boot out the NDP and create a new system.

Definitely Egypt has its vulnerabilities, but Egypt is very different from Tunisia, because Egypt has not been an authoritarian state along the lines of the Ben Ali regime.

AMON ARAN, LECTURER IN INTERNAITONAL POLITICS OF THE MIDDLE EAST, CITY UNIVERSITY, LONDON

It is far from certain the popular protest, wide in scope as it may appear, will result in political change, let alone the ousting of President Mubarak and the dismantling of his regime.

“The protesters face two key challenges. One is the Egyptian security apparatus, which over the years has developed a vested interest in the survival of President Mubarak’s regime. This elaborate apparatus has demonstrated over the past few days that it is determined to crush political dissent.

Another obstacle derives from the fact that, so far, the protesters do not seem to form a coherent political opposition. The popular outcry is loud and clear, but whether it can translate into a political force is questionable.



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