I had intended to write an analytical post about the tumultuous events in Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab world and then I recalled that a) I do not speak or read Arabic b) am not versed in contemporary Egyptian politics c) am not an Arabist by academic training d) have never visited the Middle East and e) even those who are all of these things are often doing more news updating on twitter than deep analysis.
Egypt is the demographic and geographic center of the Arab Sunni world – but without the economic resources to make Egypt the power that Nasser once aspired that it would be in the heady era of postcolonial, nationalist, Pan-Arabism. So Nasser became a client of the Soviets, who could fund his ambitions and Egypt was a quasi- Soviet satellite until Sadat kicked the Soviets out for trying to undermine him in favor of a more pliant stooge, and accepted American patronage. Sadat’s assassination gave us Mubarak and his hated familial-military-party oligarchy (Ok, the military and party were largely there, but Mubarak’s rule has discredited them).
So, instead of my projecting what will happen next, I’ll devote this recommended reading to other bloggers and news sources who are freer with their conjecture:
Top Billing! Thomas P.M. Barnett Preliminary scenario voting results at Wikistrat’s Egyptian war room (updated 1630 EST Sun) and First ever Virtual Strategic War-Room Launched following Egyptian Chaos and the Wikistrat Virtual Strategic War Room site.
No Tom is not an Arabist either, but he does have experience with designing and participating in professional war games and futurism sessions inside the USG and out. The war room, to my casual observation, seems like an IT effort to synthesize expert analysis and crowdsourcing a primitive/structured prediction market. Interesting.
Abu Muqawama – An Open Letter to the Egyptian People, Egypt: A Humble Request.
Arabist.net The who’s who of the has-beens
Marc Lynch –Washington eyes a fateful day in Egypt and Obama’s handling Egypt pretty well
Col. Pat Lang-The Outlook for Egypt and the Middle East Is Grim By – Robert K. Lifton , More sensible attitudes on Egypt today, Omar Suleiman sworn in as VP
SWJ Blog – Days of Unrest (Update)
STRATFOR – The Egypt Crisis in a Global Context: A Special Report | STRATFOR
Fabius Maximus –Important information about the riots in Egypt and Why do we fear the rioters in Egypt?
HNN (Haider Khan) – Egypt, What Next?
Global Guerrillas – EGYPT: How to Lead and Open Source Protest , EGYPT: Mubarak’s Survival Strategy and EGYPT: Looting as Counter-Insurgency
Juan Cole –Egypt’s Class Conflict
Outside the Beltway –Egyptians Upset With U.S. Response To Crisis and Egypt and the Limits of US Power
3 thoughts on “Recommended Reading”
I have resisted the urge to blog about Egypt. I simply don’t know more than the guy on the next barstool.
But, speaking as the guy on the next barstool, a comment may be the place to vent.
Obama seems to be replicating Carter’s handling of Iran and Nicaragua, and the consequences are likely to be as bad or worse.
I see no happy outcome for the USA.
The USA backed Mubarak for decades, knowing perfectly well that he was a tyrant, then throws him away like a Kleenex.
The Egyptian people will neither forgive nor forget, nor should they, that Mubarak was America’s stooge.
People around the world will see what relying on the USA means: The instant there is any political cost, you get discarded.
Who was it who said that it is dangerous to be America’s enemy, fatal to be America’s friend?
Is there an Intrade contract yet for an Islamist government in Cairo by June 1, 2011?
I don’t know the situation at all and don’t know what to think. I’m not sure what will happen and I suppose no one knows for sure.
As food for thought:
To hear pundits such as Barry Rubin and others talk there appears to be only two options: full support for authoritarians friendly to the U.S. or support for popular uprisings regardless of the potentially disastrous consequences.
The dearth of strong, pro-democracy groups and leaders in Egypt points to a far more disturbing problem: the United States’ abject neglect of democracy in the Middle East. As discussed in an earlier post, our neglect of democracy is a national disgrace. It is inconceivable that over 60 years could have passed by without the development of credible pro-democracy groups in Egypt, and elsewhere in the Middle East.
And “Londonstani” at Abu M has an amazing post.
I grew up in Egypt and Hosni Mubarak was my uncle. To be honest, I think he was an uncle, father or grandfather to the 66 percent of Egyptians who are under 30. In fact, even if you were older than him, you probably still saw Mubarak as a fatherly figure. I wasn’t born in Egypt. I arrived as an 18-year old Arabic student and I left a jaded Middle East correspondent hitting 30. But it was difficult to avoid the effects of an extremely well-crafted state propaganda machine that relied as much on the threat of thinly veiled force as it did on subtle manipulation.
Again, I haven’t a clue.
Scratching my head on this one.
On one hand, it’s clear that Mubarak is a despot, who stifled reasonable dissent. Many have pointed out that the suppression of reasonable opposition necessarily leads to only extremist opposition surviving. Yes, he was ‘our’ despot, but still: hardly an example of representative democracy.
That said: will Egypt be in better shape with the Muslim Brotherhood running the show? I think not. Clearly, the Copts think not. I saw an interesting series of photos on a blog (Human Events? Perhaps) from Cairo U’s graduating classes since 1979. ’79? Not a head scarf to be seen. ’09? Guess.
I hope to see the secular elements of Egyptian society maintain a firm hand in the process: an element virtually absent in Af’stan, and insufficiently present in Iran in ’79 to prevent its lurch into fundamentalism.
Right now, it’s a muddle. In 2013, we’ll all look back and say ‘well, it was OBVIOUS what would happen next”…
But it’s not.
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