THE MESS IN EGYPT – AT 8:38 A.M. ET: No one knows quite what's happening in Egypt. We do know that the hopes of a year ago seem awfully distant. Many Egyptians then hoped for a liberal democracy, with real freedoms. Then the country went to the polls and elected a gang of Islamists. Not too swift. Now that election has been thrown out as illegal by Egypt's high court. Unexpected. And next? It may be military rule. From CNN:
Confusion reigns in Egypt after stunning court rulings threw the country's awkward transition toward democratic rule into turmoil.
The decision sparked cries that Egypt's military leaders have engineered a "soft coup" to thwart their longtime foes -- Islamists who just four months ago captured a majority of seats in the Egyptian parliament in the first election in Egypt in generations. The court's decision dissolves parliament, and the military was quick to say it now controls legislative affairs in Egypt, actions that raised the prospect of renewed mass street protests.
The dizzying developments sent shock waves across Egypt just 16 months after a popular uprising toppled former President Hosni Mubarak and two days before Egyptians go to the polls to elect a new president. They also raised fresh questions among many about whether the military -- long the most powerful force in Egyptian life -- would ever yield power.
"Egypt is entering into a very dangerous stage, and I think a lot of people were caught by surprise," said Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Doha Center. "We knew it was getting bad, but we didn't think it was getting this bad."
He called the court rulings the "worst possible outcome" for Egypt and said the transition to civilian rule was "effectively over."
In one ruling Thursday, the Supreme Constitutional Court found that the rules governing January's parliamentary elections were invalid, triggering the dissolution of parliament.
In the second, the court rejected a law barring former regime members from running for president, clearing the way for Ahmed Shafik, the last prime minister under former Mubarak, to run in this weekend's runoff election. He faces Mohamed Morsi, an Islamist candidate favored by many in the Muslim Brotherhood and their allies and supporters.
The military leadership, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, also announced it would name a 100-strong panel by Friday that will draw up a new constitution for the country.
COMMENT: This isn't exactly a transition to democracy. However, there may be a silver lining. At least the military is relatively pro-American, and can ease any kind of transition to a better day. The Islamists, despite the propaganda coming from elements of the Obama administration and the corrupt Middle East Studies departments in some universities, are not pro-American, and it's unlikely they would have allowed much in the way of true democratic reforms. Democracy is not simply an election, as Germany in the 1930s proved. It's a way of life, a way of thinking.
We wait for the next step. I suspect the term "Arab spring" will now fade from use.
June 15, 2012