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International Issues/ Economy/ Foreign Affairs

What Next in Egypt?

With Mubarak likely to quit office soon (days/ week) – under pressure from his own people and international opinion – it compels us to worry about ‘What Next in Egypt?’ Will democracy help Egypt?

A democratically ‘elected’ government headed by President Hamid Karzai has not succeeded well in Afghanistan. There is still widespread corruption and chaos in Afghanistan. And, there are international forces still present in Afghanistan, not able to leave; the complete handover to Afghanistan security forces will commence from March 21st which happens to be the Afghan New Year day. But, the responsibility for ‘security’ in Afghanistan is expected to be transferred from the international troops, numbering about 130,000, only in the year 2014. Now, this makes the process of bringing democracy into Afghanistan very gradual. Sure! United States has done well and succeeded in getting Taliban out of Afghanistan; but, there is only a fragile democracy functional in Afghanistan.

Most of the Arab states are monarchy ruled or governed by authoritarian leaders/ dictators. In case of most of them, ‘Oil riches’ remain to be the main drivers of their economies. Except UAE – Dubai is fast becoming to be an international city and UAE, an ‘enabler’ government for all round national/ industrial development.

U.S. ‘being careful’ about the implications of Egyptian democracy has led it to play a prominent role in working toward a gradual – very gradual – transition to democracy. Essentially, U.S. is worried that rapid elections would benefit the Muslim Brotherhood, which is the only(?) element of the opposition that is really organized. But I worry that the U.S. emphasis on ‘being very gradual’ is counterproductive in three ways, in its impact on Egyptian public opinion:
1. it confirms suspicions that it’s the U.S. that pulls the strings in Egypt;
2. it bolsters suspicions that the U.S. doesn’t really want real democracy in Egypt (Why not?); and
3. In the end, it results in bolstering the Muslim Brotherhood as an ‘undesirable’ consequence.

Muslim Brotherhood is not so Islamic fundamentalist as it is projected to be one! At least, in Egypt, it is reformed quite a lot, if not secular. I feel the U.S. effort should be to coerce formation of an interim government in Egypt at the earliest and give a chance to Mubarak to make a graceful exit from Egypt; at least exit politically, if not asking him to leave Egypt! Democracy can wait now; first, let normalcy return in Egypt. In the meantime, we can weigh the options: what sort of government will be ideal for Egypt?

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About Raman Ramamurthy

I am a Management consultant, an avid reader, play Lawn tennis in my leisure time and love Music. Presently, I am settled in India along with my wife and my son.

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