Monday, July 27, 2009

Egypt after Hosni Mubarak: Put a proper procedure in place

The house style of the Economist is that articles are unsigned, but the magazine's Cairo hand is Max Rodenbeck and his knowledge of Egypt is apparent in this piece. For years, the stalled succession to Husni Mubarak has been a favorite topic of Egypt hands. One would think that the odd-ons favorite would be Gamal, the younger son of the entrenched monarch. Yet, in the shadows there are persistent whisperings about the military's misgivings about Gamal. Very wealthy (non-military) friends of Gamal will quietly reveal their misgivings about his qualifications to be president.

A much-discussed alternative to Gamal us General 'Umar Suleiman, the head of Military Intelligence. Suleiman, in the past at least, was known to be close to Suzanne Mubarak, the First Lady, and in some accounts he would be described as a key facilitator for Gamal. However, Suleiman may well, as the essay suggests, have his own ambitions to occupy the presidency.

There is a big problem though: while the military may have misgivings about Gamal, some informed Egyptians suggest that Suleiman is not the most popular guy with the top generals. Several knowledgeable Egyptians insist that Suleiman is much resented by Muhammad Hussein Tantawi, better known by the title Fielf Marshall. Tantawi is both Commander-in-Chief and Minster of Defense. He is not the sort of adversary an aspirant to high office would like to have in Egypt, where the military often stays out of the limelight while calling many of the important shots.

Meantime, the political system remains paralyzed and the big players plot and plan.

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