Riots in Egypt. New Arab Spring?

Uploaded by VestnikKavkaza on 04.12.2012

Vitaly Naumkim, director of the Institute for Oriental Studies
Egypt has stepped into a period of serious political changes,
reformation of the state and social structure,
changes in the character of the authorities,
the appearance of new elites in the political arena,
primarily Islamists.
We know from our own experience
that a period of reformation cannot be painless and short.
This is connected with internal struggle
and the interference of external players,
each of which tries to benefit from the unfolding developments.
We have experienced this.
The Arab Spring, or Arab Awakening, is a long-term process
which can last for decades, not years.
Egypt is a key country, the largest, the most important,
the most significant country of the Arab world
which is weakened by the last events
and faces various internal and external threats, challenges,
but demonstrates certain stability.
The question is whether the Muslim Brotherhood is capable
of ruling Egypt alone?
Do they actually rule the country?
Will they be able to rule?
I think it is difficult to provide an answer to this.
Many analysts believe that the Muslim Brotherhood
should not have illusions about their power in this strong country
with highly-developed institutions of political life and civil society,
where the state system with its courts, military corporation and security bodies
is developed.
The biggest achievement of Morsi is what he has done
during the crisis in Gaza, i.e.
the missile attack exchange between Gaza and Israel.
Unexpectedly for many analysts,
Morsi showed himself to be an experienced and smart politician
who has gained a certain growth in Egypt's prestige.
He achieved a settlement of the situation,
acting together with President Obama and Mrs. Clinton.
At the same time, he maintained the course
implemented by the previous regime toward the Middle East crisis,
acting as a mediator.
Previously, Egypt was a mediator in the peacemaking process
between Fatah and Hamas and between Israel and Palestine.
But if earlier the Egyptian regime -
and the population criticized it for this
(I believe it is one of the reasons for the Islamists' victory) -
participated in Gaza's blockade together with Israel,
as the blockade was not Israeli, it was Israeli-Egyptian,
the new power has to distance itself from this course.
That is why what was done toward Gaza -
actual partial elimination of the blockade -
is Morsi's success.
Moreover, elimination of the blockade
didn't cause contradictions with the West.
At the same time, it was a diplomatic success:
they managed to prevent the Israeli military operation in Gaza
and support Hamas to some extent.
Hamas considers the results of the events to be its victory,
even though Israel states that it was the winner.
I think Morsi is definitely one of the winners,
as he achieved success in diplomacy.
Coming back to the question,
we see that it encounters the opposition of very important figures.
Baradei is a more marginal figure
and not that important for Egyptian public opinion.
However, Amr Musa is an important person in Egypt.
I believe, as well as many other people do,
that he is an outstanding politician and state activist.
And he is also very critical.
I can quote one of his statements
when answering a journalist's question,
he said that "the Muslim Brotherhood didn't make the revolution,
they stole it."
He believes that people are now mostly concerned
with economic problems - growing prices,unemployment -
and according to him it is more important
to alleviate the economic problems
than change the constitution for Morsi.
Today Egypt faces serious challenges;
a certain struggle has begun,
but I don't think we should make drama out of it.
Members of the Constitutional Court have frozen their work on time,
stopped fulfillment of their functions,
but it won't lead to a civil war.
They have to think about providing a pluralistic system
for Egypt which has many various population groups,
including Christians, Copts, people of various orientations.
It is a big population, a large country,
and it is difficult to impose any single model on it.
Cooperation and peace
between these confessional and ethnic-confessional social groups
is a difficult and important task.
Another important task is
to modify the course in the context of the tense Middle East crisis,
complex relations with the West and challenges which come from the Arab world.
I mean the Syrian problem,
where Egypt tries to play the role of a mediator;
and challenges by such states as Iran,
which had tense relations with other Sunni major countries.
But Egypt tries not to take this or that side
and considers Turkey's experience.
Turkey began reforms in increasing Islam's role
when the Justice and Development Party
made Turkey one of top 20 major countries of the world.
Then, they took steps on changing the constitutional system.
Probably there would be a presidential republic, as Erdogan wants.
But it is too early for Egypt to take measures
similar to the Turkish steps.
Turkish experience is borrowed by Morsi to some extent.
But we shouldn't forget that Turkey has remained a secular country,
and it is written into the constitution.
Nothing has changed in Turkey in this sense.