A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The SCAF/MB Maneuvering: No Presidential Candidate=Forming Cabinet?

 The recent verbal and communique duel between Egypt's SCAF and the Muslim Brotherhood continuyes, and now Al-Masry Al-Youm is reporting that SCAF has said it would allow the Brotherhood to form a new Cabinet provided it does not decide to run a candidate for President. Like many recent rumors it will be denied, and you can make up your own mind whether to believe it (let's see what the decision on a candidate turns out to be).

Another report, that at first glance seems to contradict the above, in Ahram Online says  that SCAF may pardon Brotherhood Deputy Leader Khairat al-Shater, who is considered a possible Brotherhood candidate for President if they choose to field one. He spent plenty of time in jail and is thus technically barred from running, but SCAF could pardon him, as they did Ayman Nour yesterday, to let him run. But the two reports aren't mutually exclusive, since Shater could be a Brotherhood choice for Prime Minister in a new Cabinet, and would need a pardon to take that job, as well, since he's barred from holding public office.

Conspiracy theorists will no doubt try to put various spins on these reports. Does the military have a favorite in the race? If so, who? They're not exactly transparent. Why would they oppose a Brotherhood candidate? Because they couldn't count on controlling him?  Did the Ayman Nour pardon actually send some sort of subtle signal? Is SCAF ever subtle?

Meanwhile the Constituent Assembly is a mess.The liberals have walked out. The Islamists have elected People's Assembly Speaker Katatni it's chairman, with a quarter of the seats vacant. The liberals are talking about writing their own constitution. SCAF is calling meetings to talk about things, and others are challenging the Assembly in the courts.

Nobody said democracy is easy, but I must say, Tunisia's post-revolutionary experience is a world away from Egypt's. But even in Egypt, some interesting dynamics are going on.

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