Sunday, November 27, 2011

Nakhleh and Norton on the Egyptian election

"Both the security forces and senior US officials are apprehensive that this week’s elections will bring the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood to power, and there is little doubt that the Brotherhood is poised to win a plurality of seats this week and in run-offs scheduled for December and January. But rather than trying to dilute the election results through military diktat, the United States should insist that the security forces honor the results and hand over power.
"Misplaced fears about the implications of an Islamist sweep are often heard in Washington, where some media pundits have asked whether the Arab Spring is devolving into an Islamist Winter. But Tunisia’s election provides an instructive model on an alternative to that scenario. The election fostered a coalescence of Islamist and secular politicians. The victory of the Tunisian al-Nahda party, which won a 40-percent plurality, may be a harbinger for the coming of Arab political normalcy and the delegitimization of “Arab exceptionalism.’’ Al-Nahda’s leader, Rachid Ghannouchi, has begun reaching out to secular groups to form a coalition government, a move that would not have happened before the demise of authoritarian regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya."
[Because of the Thanksgiving holiday, this piece went to press five days ago.]


On November 25, 2011, a White House statement suggested impatience with the Egyptian generals' and emphasized the goal of "the full transfer of power to a civilian government."  Compare this statement to the President's phone conversation with Field Marshal Tantawi on October 24, 2011.