A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Egypt's Transition Begins to Take Shape

Nearly a week after the military intervention and after several names were floated for Prime Minister, Hazem al-Beblawi, who was Finance Minister in 2011, has been given the job. The fact that earlier suggestions were apparently vetoed by the Nour Party or others suggests the problems Beblawi will face in putting together a Cabinet. The "Constitutional Declaration" issued yesterday (full Arabic text here; summary in English here), spelling out a timetable for writing and ratifying an amended constitution, leading to Parliamentary and Presidential elections by early next year, may also be somewhat utopian; the Muslim Brotherhood has already rejected it..

Note, by the way, that the plan is to amend the much-criticized 2012 Constitution, rather than to replace it? Why, you may ask, if it is so hated? I'm just guessing here, but I think the fact that the Brotherhood-brokered 2012 Constitution gave the Armed Forces more autonomous power than they ever held (at least formally on paper) in the Sadat and Mubarak eras, just might have something to do with it.

And while we're on the subject of Egypt, amid a lot of debate about what the US should do, see Laura Rozen's report in the advice of former US Ambassadors Frank Wisner and Dan Kurtzer: which is essentially to do nothing.

I agree. US policy has been thoroughly misunderstood among Egyptian liberals and secularists, and to do something precipitate right now could not only reinforce that misunderstanding but radicalize the Army. Now is a time for caution.

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