Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

The State of the Egyptian Revolution

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

The State of the Egyptian Revolution

Article excerpt

George Washington University's Elliot School of International Affairs hosted a Sept. 21 panel of leading political scientists to discuss and offer their perspectives on the revolution in Egypt and its new political situation.

Rabab El-Mahdi, professor of political science at the American University in Cairo, began by explaining that the revolution in Egypt is far from being over. While it took only 18 days to depose President Hosni Mubarak, the same elites, including those from Egypt's media and universities, are still running the country today. This, according to El-Mahdi, is because Egypt is a politicized state "where there is no real distinction between the state institutions and those who rule." Those who hold positions in different government bureaucracies and ministries are interrelated with certain institutions, meaning that restructuring the political apparatus would extend to other sectors of society-making it very difficult for meaningful change to occur.

Joshua Stacher, professor of political science at Kent State University, elaborated on the inherent continuity of Egypt's government after the overthrow of Mubarak by examining the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and the power and privilege it has retained since Mubarak's fall. According to Stacher, "SCAF is disproportionately in charge, and therefore they are disproportionately to blame" for the current state of the revolution seven months in. Moreover, he added, "their actions and their practices leave no doubt to their culpability."

Although Mubarak is gone, the parallel executive structures have remained, allowing the former regime's same repressive rule to operate. One important element of this is that SCAF maintains veto power over political structures, such as who gets appointed as a member of the constitutional delegation. SCAF has also pushed for November elections-knowing that, as an incumbent with an unorganized opposition, it will win the stability vote and retain its power. In addition to maintaining its power while remaining in the shadows, "SCAF will get the legitimacy vote for holding the elections," Stacher observed.

In contrast to her fellow panelists, Mona El-Ghobashy, political science professor at Barnard College, explained that for the first time since the 1900s-right before the WAFD party took control of the political system-Egypt is experiencing a "free movement" that consists of fragmented political groups. …

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