What's next for Egypt?
A roundup of Egypt analysis after the mass protests – and harsh crackdown – around Tahrir Square over the past few days. Some democracy supporters advocate delaying next week's elections.
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Writing for us yesterday from Cairo, Kristen Chick also finds that a feeling of a revolution unfulfilled is dominant on Tahrir.Skip to next paragraph
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Many billed the renewed protests, which come less than a week before parliamentary elections are scheduled to begin, as a continuation of the revolution that overthrew former President Hosni Mubarak in February – and protesters again insist that they will stay put until the leader in their sights steps down. Some even appear willing to risk their lives as security forces fire not only tear gas and rubber bullets on the protesters, but also birdshot and – according to field doctors – live ammunition.
Meanwhile Shadi Hamid, the research director at Brooking's Doha Center, argues that postponing elections now would be precisely the wrong thing to do. Why? Because it would entrench military rule, and perhaps inflame Islamists who are expected to do well at the polls.
There is little doubt that Islamists, namely the Muslim Brotherhood, will dominate next week's elections in Egypt. Liberals are in disarray, apparently gaining little from an extension of the transition period. Members of the main "revolutionary" list – with little funding and little chance of gaining seats – are threatening to withdraw from the polls. The Brotherhood, meanwhile, is poised to secure, by a wide margin, the largest share of parliamentary seats (I've explained why here and here). This has made many liberals and leftists less enthusiastic about elections than they might otherwise be.
If the elections are delayed, Islamists will perceive it as a soft coup, and one directed against them. I asked one Brotherhood official if they would hold mass demonstrations in response. He said yes, but that would only be the "start." He continued, "At that point, we will be willing to consider all peaceful options." The same official told me he believed the army may have deliberately provoked protesters to create a pretext for postponing elections.
IN PICTURES: Tahrir Square clashes
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