Meet the new boss

I have been following the events in Egypt with great interest, much like the rest of the civilized world. Israel’s generals are freaking out, the White House is trying to play it cool, and the rest of the Middle East, especially the parts governed by autocratic regimes, is getting nervous.

My guess is that Mubarak will have to flee the country sometime in February, sooner rather than later. What’s far more important is what will replace him. As the internet is down through much of the country, news reports are more vague than I would prefer; so far, the media narrative is a power balance between the government/police, the army, and the masses, with the army serving as the fulcrum and tending to favor the masses.

Egypt has had a militarized government for most of its recent, as well as older, history. So I would expect its considerable army to play a large role in any new government. The Egyptian army is large enough to prevent anarchy if it wants, so I don’t expect that; rather, it seems we will get what happened in Iraq, minus an American invasion, a trial and execution, the disbandment of the military, and a civil war/extended guerrilla action.

That was sarcastic. Mostly, it’ll just be the weird factional politics that result from the power vacuum left when a dictator departs. Iraq hasn’t figured out that equation yet.

Back to the media narrative – there is a lot of mention of the Muslim Brotherhood, who have played a certain role in Egypt, similar to that of al-Sadr’s Shi’a movement/party in Iraq, for many years. The two extreme governmental alternatives are a secular democratic government and a Sharia-based theocracy, but we’ll probably get a bland two-party secular government with MB exerting considerable influence (a lot like Israel’s politics, actually, with Shas), and the army allowing it to happen rather than backing Mubarak or replacing him with a general. The U.S. and Israel are more interested in preserving the Israel/Egypt peace treaty than the exact political outcome, of course.

The people have to keep the pressure on if they want the army to make the right move.

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