Sunday, February 06, 2011

Machinations and Maneuvering to Send Mubarak Packing

The demonstrations against Hosni Mubarak are now going on nearly two weeks, and there's no end in sight. US officials continue talks with Egyptian officals on a way to effectuate a peaceful transition away from the Mubarak regime to something different.

The machinations and maneuvering to send Mubarak packing also includes talks between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian government.
The Brotherhood is an outlawed Islamist organization often depicted by the authorities as committed to the overthrow of the secular order in the heart of the Middle East. Official attitudes toward it here have swung between outright repression and reluctant tolerance. But it has remained Egypt’s biggest opposition force against the autocratic rule of President Hosni Mubarak.

After the meeting had started, The Associated Press said that talks included some of the top issues for the opposition — including freedom of the press and the release of those detained since anti-government protests started — as well as agreement to begin setting up a structure to study amending the country’s constitution.

A spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood, Gamal Nassar, said the huge and sometimes violent demonstrations that have paralyzed Cairo for 13 days, reverberating around the Middle East, would continue “until the political path can have a role in achieving the aspirations of the protesters” — an apparent reference to their goal of removing Mr. Mubarak.

Mr. Nassar said mediators had brokered the encounter with Mr. Suleiman, who Saturday received public backing from the Obama administration and other Western governments that confirmed him as the West’s choice to guide any transfer of power.

“The brothers decided to enter a round of dialogue to determine how serious the officials are achieving the demands of the people,” Mr. Nassar said. “The regime keeps saying we’re open to dialogue and the people are the ones refusing, so the Brotherhood decided to examine the situation from all different sides.”
Trying to figure out the ultimate goal of the Brotherhood is the biggest problem facing the US and even ordinary Egyptians. The Brotherhood's website and propaganda includes ultimately establishing a caliphate and instituting Islamic law on Egypt. It seeks the elimination of Israel, but depending on who you ask within the group, the group will work within the political process to do so. Some factions within the Brotherhood have spun off to form Islamic terror groups you might be familiar with, including Egyptian Islamic Jihad, al Qaeda, and has inspired the likes of Hamas.

There are even reports that the Brotherhood will accept a continuing Mubarak regime as long as there are significant constitutional reforms.
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood movement accepts that President Hosni Mubarak staying in power is a “safer option” to secure the implementation of constitutional reforms.

“We wanted the president to step down but, for now, we accept this arrangement as long as we feel there is a serious implementation,” Mohamed Saad El-Katatni, a senior leader of the group, said after a meeting between Vice President Omar Suleiman and leaders of some opposition groups.

“It’s safer that the president stays until he makes these amendments to speed things up because of the constitutional powers he holds,” he said in Cairo today.
Because the Brotherhood is more organized than other opposition groups, their decision may allow Mubarak the breathing room to continue limping along and gives the Brotherhood time to prepare for elections in September when they can use the elections to further their goals - which are antithetical to many Egyptians.

So, what are ordinary Egyptians to do?

Well, they're going to continue demonstrating.

And the West will continue hoping that Mubarak takes the hint and resigns with an orderly transition to a caretaker government that will hold elections in a prompt manner. The West, and the US and Israel, will hope that the new government fulfills its obligations under the Camp David Accords and doesn't bring about a wholesale revision/rejection of the Treaty between Egypt and Israel; if that happens, any further peace treaties between Israel and its enemies (those regimes that are still at war with Israel or which are trying to bring about Israel's end) will not happen. That means that the peace process will come to an abrupt end because the treaties will last only as long as the regime in charge and Israel is not about to trade land for a peace that could be over within the blink of an eye.

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