Thursday, April 12, 2012

Egyptian Presidential Race Update

I'm posting just to update two things I've previously talked about. On one, Egypt's salafi presidential candidate Hazem Salah Abu Ismail may not be disqualified after all:
"An Egyptian court on Wednesday unexpectedly declined to disqualify for the moment an ultraconservative Islamist from running for president because of his mother’s status as an American citizen...

"By midnight, Mr. Abu Ismail’s supporters were celebrating in the streets. Still, the ruling on Wednesday did little to settle the issue. The national election commission will make the final determination of his eligibility, and it could disqualify him based on the ample American documentation of the mother’s citizenship.

"If Mr. Abu Ismail is disqualified, his exit from the race would benefit the two more moderate Islamist candidates: Khairat el-Shater of the Muslim Brotherhood, and Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, a liberal former Brotherhood leader."

Meanwhile, as most of you doubtless already know, Omar Suleiman entered Egypt's presidential race. Suleiman is a consummate Mubarak-era figure, and I can't picture him doing well despite his high name recognition any more than the NDP remnants did well in the parliamentary race. Steven Cook ponders his entry, and says:
"So why is Omar Suleiman running? Perhaps there is no better explanation than blind ambition and opportunism. Suleiman is somewhat different than the caricatures of him. For example, he is more thoughtful on foreign policy than one might suspect, but unless he had a change of heart over the last 15 months, he is hardly a progressive on domestic politics. He was, in part, responsible for Egypt’s alleged stability during 18 of Mubarak’s 29 years 3 months, and 28 days in power. Suleiman, no doubt, believes that he can return stability and security to Egypt’s streets, providing a critical component for an economic recovery, but can he? No matter where they stand on the important issues, it seems that many Egyptians have rejected Omar Pasha’s methods, which, if the uprising was any measure, proved to be largely ineffective against millions of people who desperately wanted change."

Despite the temptation to see Egyptian political actors as all playing 11-dimensional chess to promote their own agendas, I'm moving into the camp that suspects no one actually knows what they're doing, and are just responding to events on an ad hoc basis.



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