Friday, March 04, 2011

The Future of Egypt and the Region

David Bukay

Audio Recording

David Bukay is a professor of Middle East Studies at the University of Haifa and author of several books, including Arab-Islamic Political Culture. He specializes in several themes, including the role of militaries in the Middle East. On February 14, he addressed the Middle East Forum via conference call on Egypt's military in the post-Mubarak era.

Mr. Bukay asserts that the military regime in Egypt has been the power holder since deposing the monarchy in July 1952, hence why the government is marked by a lack of civil institutions and high corruption, with little political and civil rights for the country's citizens. The removal of Hosni Mubarak from power was an internal coup d'état by the military that was reluctant to see Gamal Mubarak, the ex-president's son, become the new ruler of Egypt. Mr. Bukay emphasized that the Muslim Brotherhood will come to power provided that there are genuinely free and democratic elections and the military removes itself from politics. Mr. Bukay also stressed that the Brotherhood could follow the Turkish model of steady progression towards an Islamist state, the path of Algeria's Islamist groups that waged an armed campaign after the military cancelled elections in 1992, or the example of Hezbollah, which holds power behind the scenes and operates by forming coalitions and alliances with non-Islamist groups and politicians. Of the three, Mr. Bukay predicted that the Brotherhood would most likely adopt the Lebanese model.

Mr. Bukay concluded his talk by noting that the people are now a legitimate political force, no longer afraid to stand up against the ruling regimes in the region. Nonetheless, one has to be mindful of past developments such as the Iranian Revolution of 1979, where the people demanded freedom and got Khomeini. Thus, Mr. Bukay urged the U.S. to help the military prevent the Brotherhood from seizing power, and warned the Obama administration not to ignore the anti-democratic nature of Islamist parties.

Asked whether the Brotherhood had infiltrated the military, while affirming that there are no exact data on the subject, Mr. Bukay believes the high-ranking officers are anti-Islamist and will try to prevent the Brotherhood from coming to power.

Summary written by MEF intern Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi

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