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  • Author: Daniela Pioppi
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: It is a common place in the literature that the Muslim Brotherhood (jama'a al-ikhwan al-muslimin) is - after its re-emergence on the political scene back in the seventies - the main (if not the only) real, organised and mass-based opposition force in Egypt. Events in Egypt in January 2011 have recast attention on this question. This paper aims to evaluate, inasmuch as it is possible, the state of health of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) today, after forty years of coexistence with the Egyptian (neo)-authoritarian regime. Has the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood represented a real alternative to the incumbent regime? Or it is more correct to speak today in terms of an almost 'functional' opposition, tamed by recurring political repression and limited freedom of action? To what extent has the Muslim Brotherhood been able to shape or at least to influence the Egyptian political and social agenda, both with respect to the regime and to other opposition forces?
  • Topic: Democratization, Islam, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: Virginie Collombier
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: Even before the current uprising began in Egypt, major changes in the political system had begun to threaten the stability of the Mubarak regime as the presidential succession became imminent. Constitutional reforms and electoral fraud could have resulted in a political deadlock in 2011. At the same time, the relative openness and freedom of expression that has emerged in Egypt since 2005 had laid the ground for new political movements to emerge and develop. Events in Tunisia, combined with a severe degradation of economic and social conditions in Egypt, and the growing perception that its citizens would have no say in the coming presidential succession, have created a favourable context for the unprecedented mobilization in Tahrir square.
  • Topic: Democratization, Insurgency, Political Power Sharing
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: Bruce K. Rutherford
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: As protests continued in Cairo, questions intensified about when and how President Hosni Mubarak would step aside and what kind of transitional government might replace him. The "key actor" at this time is Egypt's military leadership, which is concerned about growing violence, economic damage, and continued instability, says Bruce K. Rutherford, author of Egypt After Mubarak: Liberalism, Islam, and Democracy in the Arab World. "If they want these demonstrations to end, they can either intervene and use force to disperse the demonstrators or they can ask President Mubarak to leave," he says, which would indicate the army's belief that Mubarak's continued presence is destabilizing. Rutherford says the opposition has organized a ten-person leadership group headed by Mohamed ElBaradei, but that Egyptians are skeptical about the government's offer to open discussions with the opposition because in the past, such dialogues haven't led to any change. He says a possible successor to Mubarak may be former foreign minister Amr Moussa, currently head of the Arab League.
  • Topic: Security, Civil Society, Democratization, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Egypt
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: It is early days, and the true measure of what the Egyptian people have accomplished has yet to fully sink in. Some achievements are as clear as they are stunning. Over a period of less than three weeks, they challenged conventional chestnuts about Arab lethargy; transformed national politics; opened up the political space to new actors; massively reinforced protests throughout the region; and called into question fundamental pillars of the Middle East order. They did this without foreign help and, indeed, with much of the world timidly watching and waffling according to shifting daily predictions of their allies' fortunes. The challenge now is to translate street activism into inclusive, democratic institutional politics so that a popular protest that culminated in a military coup does not end there. The backdrop to the uprising has a familiar ring. Egypt suffered from decades of authoritarian rule, a lifeless political environment virtually monopolised by the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP); widespread corruption, cronyism and glaring inequities; and a pattern of abuse at the hands of unaccountable security forces. For years, agitation against the regime spread and, without any credible mechanism to express or channel public discontent, increasingly took the shape of protest movements and labour unrest.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Democratization, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries
  • Author: Jacob Høigilt
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: Jubilant celebrations followed the announcement of Hosni Mubarak's resignation as president of Egypt. The army has taken control of government, promising fundamental judicial and political reforms, but considering that the army has been the guarantor of the Egyptian regime since 1952, the future is far from certain. In the current dramatic situation, the question arises: who are the actors that have succeeded in bringing down Mubarak's regime, what are their aims, and what support base do they have? This paper provides an overview and assessment of the four groups that have emerged as major political players, and the role they may play in Egypt's ongoing political transition: the many-stranded but disciplined youth movement, the Council of Wise Men (lajnat al-hukama'), the National Association for Change, and the Muslim Brothers. The paper also considers the independent Egyptian judges who occupy a crucial position in the current situation.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Regime Change, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Egypt
  • Author: Moaaz Elzoughby
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Norwegian Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The Egyptian protest movement eventually won a historic victory with the achievement of its main demand, the resignation of Hosni Mubarak from Egypt's presidency. But the seventeen tumultuous days from the start of the demonstrations on 25 January until the president's departure on 11 February were far from straightforward in their course. In this eyewitness report, a researcher who was present during the crucial days when Cairo's Tahrir Square became the centre of the revolt reveals how the social composition and the moods of the movement fluctuated throughout the protest. Nothing was predetermined; even the events that led to the occupation of the square itself had elements of contingency about them. The interplay between a minority of politicised participants and a much larger group of non-political young people from Cairo's neighbourhoods was at the heart of the shifts that took place, which were in turn influenced by the tactics of security forces and the character of official media coverage. These factors, critical to the evolution of the movement and the outcome of the protest, may continue to be important in shaping the aftermath of Egypt's revolt.
  • Topic: Democratization, Insurgency, Political Activism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Egypt
  • Author: Bassma Kodmani
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre
  • Abstract: The recent democratic revolution in Tunisia swept away the authoritarian regime of President Zein el Abidin Ben Ali who had long held a tight grip on power in the country. He used the police to spread fear among the population, appointed loyalists to the head of the national union and ensured the ruling party was the only real player in the political system. His family were a hive of corruption. When the population revolted, it was therefore swift and decisive.
  • Topic: Democratization, Insurgency, Political Activism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Even before the popular wave from Tunisia and Egypt reached Yemen, President Saleh's regime faced daunting challenges. In the north, it is battling the Huthi rebellion, in the south, an ever-growing secessionist movement. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is showing mounting signs of activism. Sanaa's political class is locked in a two-year battle over electoral and constitutional reforms; behind the scenes, a fierce competition for post-Saleh spoils is underway. Economic conditions for average Yemenis are dire and worsening. Now this. There is fear the protest movement could push the country to the brink and unleash broad civil strife. But it also could, and should, be a wake-up call, a catalyst for swift, far-reaching reforms leading to genuine power-sharing and accountable, representative institutions. The opposition, reformist ruling party members and civil society activists will have to work boldly together to make it happen. The international community's role is to promote national dialogue, prioritise political and economic development aid and ensure security aid is not used to suppress opposition.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil Society, Democratization, Economics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Yemen, Arabia, North Africa, Egypt, Tunisia
  • Author: Sherry Ricchiardi
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: National Endowment for Democracy
  • Abstract: After the ouster of Saddam Hussein in April 2003, Iraq's tightly controlled state-run media underwent a transformation on two fronts: one driven by the Americans who made establishing a free press a priority; the other by an Iraqi citizenry that for three decades had been cut off from the free marketplace of ideas under a tyrannical regime.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Mass Media
  • Political Geography: Iraq, America, Middle East, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 05-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Economist Intelligence Unit
  • Abstract: Five months after the Arab uprising started in Tunisia, it has become possible to glimpse the likely outcomes for the region. The first section of this report traces the main political scenarios.
  • Topic: Democratization, Regime Change
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia, Morocco, Tunisia, Oman