Sunday, February 13, 2011

Egypt's future

The crystal ball is ver cloudy regarding Egypt.

Anyone who makes hard and fast predictions about the future of Egypt, much less the Middle East, will probably look foolish in a few weeks. It is equally unrealistic to prophecy doom and disaster and to prophecy a rosy and democratic future.

If the Egyptian revolt heralds a new democratic era, than of course it is a great event in the history of the Middle East, an event that will encourage peace and prosperity.

Those who seek to promote "stability" through dictatorships need to remember that despotisms usually end in revolutions and that in the long run, no situation in which most of the people are unhappy can be stable if they have a more promising model. Others should be aware that it is likely that in any country of the Middle East,, and especially in Egypt, most of the people will probably be desperately unhappy in any regime: The nationalists and modernizers will be unhappy under an Islamist regime, the Islamists will be unhappy under a nationalist or Westernized regime and most people will be desperately poor for the foreseeable future under any regime.

In the best case, Egypt and Tunisia will serve as examples for their neighbors in the Middle East, and we will, as Elliot Abrams predicted recently, see a chain of such popular revolts across the region. Al_Jazeera commentators see an "Arab Intifada." Such scenarios are unlikely.

The situation is fluid. It is easier to start a revolution than to know where it will end, and most of the "experts" have thus far been wrong about Egypt. At this moment Egypt is formally ruled by the army, a situation which has existed in fact since the Nasser coup. The army, as usual in such cases, promises reform and democratic elections. The promises may or may not be fulfilled. <

More at Scenarios for Egypt

No comments: