Egypt Again

The New York Times says Egyptian voters have approved the proposed changes to the country's constitution, in a development that fundamentally improves the chances of the Muslim Brotherhood's rise to power.

CAIRO, Egypt — Egyptian voters overwhelmingly approved a referendum on constitutional changes on Sunday that will usher in rapid elections, with the results underscoring the strength of established political organizations, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood, and the weakness of emerging liberal groups.

The Muslim Brotherhood and remnant elements of the National Democratic Party, which dominated Egyptian politics for decades, were the main supporters of the referendum. They argued the election timetable would insure a swift return to civilian rule.

Members of the liberal wing of Egyptian politics mostly opposed the measure, saying they lacked time to organize into effective political organizations. They said early elections will benefit the Brotherhood and the old ruling party, which they warned would seek to write a constitution that centralizes power much like the old one.

But that doesn't mean all is quiet along the Nile. The Washington Post's Post-Partisan says that divisions still seethe beneath the surface.

Distrust is running high in Cairo. The youth fear that the military will hijack their revolution. Liberal opposition parties fear that the Muslim Brotherhood will dominate early elections. Muslim Brothers claim that remnants of the old ruling regime are stoking sectarian strife. Everyone worries that everyone else is cutting deals with the generals to gain some greater place in post-Mubarak Egypt. After living under 30 years of Hosni Mubarak’s divisive politics that kept him on top by keeping everyone at each other’s throats. ....

The political life of Egypt has reawakened. Friday night I walked by outdoor cafes in downtown Cairo. The only topic of conversation was today’s vote. Friends were debating this and that clause of the constitutional amendments. Family members were trying to persuade each other to either vote yes or no.

It could be the best of times or the worst of times. One thing is sure. Egypt is now in the middle of a region that is brewing with volatility; where the "3 am telephone call" bids fare to become a conference call.  As Churchill once put it, "Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."


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