Despite we are still hearing constantly from both our politicians and the media that the Middle East is headed for democratic governments, (Oh, if it were so, but alas, the truth is not as pretty) yet in Egypt the caretaker military government has seemingly partnered with the Muslim Brotherhood to rewrite the Egyptian Constitution and set up elections. This same Muslim Brotherhood had once announced its intentions to run only for one third of the Parliamentary Seats and not run a candidate for President. As time has moved steadily towards actual elections, the Muslim Brotherhood has modified their position to now say they will only run for about half of the seats in Parliament, though my bet is they will run for three quarters of the seats, and they will allow one of the ruling members on the board of the Muslim Brotherhood to run, but as an independent candidate who will not be influenced should he win the election. Yep, I sure do believe that, not.
We have already had a very ominous and distinct indicator on what is coming in the near future for Egypt, and it has little to nothing to do with democracy beyond the appearance of elections, something we should all be familiar with through much of the Middle East and North Africa. The results of the vote to ratify or deny the changes made to the Egyptian constitution by a committee, made up of mostly Muslim Brotherhood appointed members, and also to set the date for elections, the positions backed by the Muslim Brotherhood received around 70% of the vote. We can expect similar results in the coming Parliamentary elections. Another item that needs consideration is the existence of extreme Islamist groups other than the Muslim Brotherhood who will also be posting candidates for Parliament. There have been reports that some of these groups have consulted with the Muslim Brotherhood so as to assure they run their candidates in precincts where there are no other Islamist candidates in order to maximize their wins and thus control over Egypt.
What is just as disturbing is the fact that new eruptions have occurred in Tunisia, this time calling for strict Islamic rule. These started weeks after the initial protests that removed President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali from office. These demonstrations have received little in depth coverage, probably due to the fact they are not exactly pro-democracy in the same vein as the earlier demonstrations. In Tunisia, just as has occurred in Egypt, the earlier participants are being squeezed out of the political scene to be replaced by clerical leaders who call for Sharia Law. This was aptly demonstrated in Egypt when after the speech given by formerly exiled Imam Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Google Executive and protest leader Wael Ghonim was not allowed to take the microphone and present the speech he was scheduled to give, instead he was threatened and forced from the stage. That one particular act is the most representative action of this Arab Spring that has now become the Arab Winter.
I understand why the press and so many politicians are holding so dearly to the idea that the uprisings in the Arab world would result in democracy. They have invested a ton of their speaking engagements and press conferences at the onset of the unrest in Tunisia and Egypt that they now find it difficult to back off of their democracy claims. That is one of the greatest failings of the news and political classes that they refuse to admit when they make a mistake or make a wrong call on the outcome of events. It is why they eventually get caught in cover-ups when a simple I have done such-and-such and I am sorry would have ended the whole matter. It is also why many of them will seem so out-of-step with reality and silly when the Arab Spring is finally revealed to be more of an Arab Winter. If they would simply recognize and admit that their initial judgment was possibly made hastily on the initial information available, and they now recognize that the situation has not gone in the manner they had predicted rather than stick to their original guns even when those guns are proven beyond a rational doubt to be unloaded or misfiring. But then again, I could be wrong and it really is an Arab Spring and everything in the Middle East and North Africa is going to turn out swimmingly with peace and democracies breaking out all over, even between the Arab and Muslim world and Israel. But then again, I probably should not expect to see too many friendly relations with Israel to occur simply due to a change in leadership just as people should not expect great relations between the West, especially the Great Satan (United States) and the new regimes.
Beyond the Cusp