January 15, 2014

TRAINWRECKSPOTTING:

Arab Neighbors Take Split Paths in Constitutions (DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK and CARLOTTA GALLJAN. 1/14/14, NY Times)

" 'Train wreck' might be a charitable way to describe where Egypt is right now," said Nathan J. Brown, an expert on Arab legal systems at George Washington University. In Tunisia, he said, "everybody keeps dancing on the edge of a cliff, but they never fall off."

The difference, scholars said, lies in the shape of the shards left after each country's revolt. Tunisia's brutal security police virtually collapsed during its revolt, while its small, professionalized military historically had no interest in political power. In civilian politics, its Islamist and secular factions were relatively evenly matched, with the Islamists winning only a plurality in Tunisia's first free vote. Each side needed the other to govern.

In Egypt, where the military has been a political player since Gamal Abdel Nasser's 1952 coup, the generals stepped in to remove President Hosni Mubarak, himself a onetime military man, and never fully receded. Further complicating matters, each side of the political divide had reason to hope it might rule alone: The Islamists dominated the elections, while their opponents knew the military was waiting in the wings.

"The opposition knew that, first, it might never win another election and, second, the military was there," Mr. Brown said.

With the ouster of Mr. Morsi and the violent crackdown on his supporters last summer, what started out as a revolution in Egypt became just another chapter in "the very old and always violent story" of "the rivalry between the security state and the Muslim Brotherhood," said Zaid al-Ali, a legal expert in Cairo tracking both charters for the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance.
Posted by at January 15, 2014 4:59 PM
  
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