Monday, June 04, 2012

Barry Rubin: Egypt’s Presidential Election: Moderate Establishment vs. Totalitarian Revolutionaries

by Barry Rubin

Egypt’s fate, I think, will not be settled by the June 16-17 presidential election (second round). It has already been set by the parliamentary election which has given a large majority to the Islamists as well as the ability to write the constitution. If Ahmad Shafiq defeats the Brotherhood candidate, Muhammad al-Mursi, parliament will simply make a strong prime minister (appointed by the Muslim Brotherhood) and a weak president.

But, of course, a victory for Shafiq would be significant, indicating that a lot of those who voted for Islamists in the parliamentary voting—as many as one-third of them, about 25 percent of the total population—are not eager for a Sharia state. That could be added to another 25 percent (40 percent of them Christians) who are anti-Islamist.

Shafiq, a former general and prime minister, is widely seen as a man of the old regime, Think of it this way. Suppose President Husni Mubarak had died or been disabled prior to 2011, or that the establishment had revolted and gotten rid of Mubarak on its own and chosen a successor. Shafiq might have become the new president and there would never have been a “revolution” in Tahrir Square.

So there you have it. One candidate wants basic continuity with more freedom; the other, al-Mursi, wants an Islamist state, Sharia law, and jihad. That’s a pretty clear choice.
Continue reading Egypt’s Presidential Election: Moderate Establishment vs. Totalitarian Revolutionaries

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). His latest book is Israel: An Introduction, was published by Yale University Press in January 2012. You can read more of Barry Rubin's posts at Rubin Reportsand  Rubin Reports, on Pajamas Media 

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