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  • Struggle between Muslim Brotherhood and Military Council in Egypt

    Ex-President Mubarak has been sentenced to lifelong imprisonment. The first democratic parliamentary and presidential elections have brought a victory for the Muslim Brotherhood, an anti-democratic Islamist party, which is at odds with the Military Council. Even though the result of the presidential elections is not official yet, it looks as if the Muslim Brotherhood candidate might have clinched the victory there too.

    So, on the one side, the utopian vision of a Democratic Arab Spring has not really come to fruition. What a shame, considering that the liberal hype about the alleged democratization of the Middle East was so intoxicating.

    Now, the ruling military council has implemented eight amendments to the provisional constitution which basically secures the army’s continued hold on power.

    Even though the military council is supposed to hand over power to the newly elected President next month, the aforementioned amendments make sure that whoever the President will be will not have any authority over the Army: the new President will be unable to dissolve the Military Council or in any way interfere with its decisions.

    The Military Council has even insured that it will have a veto concerning the newly to be created Constitution; it can even dissolve the constitutional assembly. At the same time the Military Council reserves the right to take measures against any internal unrest.

    This, of course means that the status quo is the status ante. The face of the regime might have changed, yet the regime has not. The only thing that has truly changed is the place of residence for the former President.

    From a libertarian standpoint this is, of course, unsatisfactory. On the other hand, so would have been a parliament dominated by the antidemocratic Muslim Brotherhood, which would have ultimately brought about a religiously labeled police state, just as incompatible with democracy as the one that has now been created by the military.

    The question is, how will the West deal with the situation? As we are all painfully aware, the non-interference principle is not one very much cherished by any of our lords and masters in our respective capitals. The very same governments that do not let a day pass without infringing upon our freedoms, tend to be very self-righteous when it comes to judging governments in other parts of the world, that are less subtle in the ubiquitous power grabbing exercise.

    On the other side, they will find themselves in a little bit of a dilemma. Let us be frank: as long as Mubarak was firmly in control, it was considered to be politically incorrect, however, also very convenient to deal with a government that was essentially pro-West. This should apply now more so than ever, considering the unrest and turmoil that most of the Arab countries find themselves in.

    A politically stable Egypt, no matter how undemocratic its government might be, would be tremendously useful in bringing stability to the Arabian Peninsula and its oil riches.

    This is the most inconvenient truth. It is not the way a libertarian would like to see things, yet, it is part of Realpolitik. Personally, I consider the likelihood of democracy prevailing in this part of the world as infinitesimally small. And so, while preserving the non-interference principle, we remain condemned to observe with much unease the power struggle between the forces of authoritarian secularism and totalitarian theocracy.

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