Post-Hosni Mubarak Egypt
|Saturday, August 14,2010 14:40|
|By Hassan Hanizadeh|
The worsening of 83-year-old Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's illness has raised concerns in the Arab world and the International community over the future of Egypt after Mubarak's possible death.
Hosni Mubarak, who has been ruling Egypt since 1981, is suffering from lymphoma and has undergone several surgeries outside his country.
Although a president's death seems like a normal thing, Egypt's social and political conditions fundamentally differ from those of other countries.
Over the past 29 years, Mubarak exclusively secured all levers of power for himself and the National Democratic Party, through holding the positions of commander of Armed Forces, chief of National Security Supreme Council, secretary of Supreme Council of Economy, and chairman of the largest political party.
The incumbent National Democratic Party, which is headed by Mubarak, enjoys the majority of the seats in the two-house Parliament of the country; and it is impossible to elect the president in Egypt without the consent of 250 members of the Shura Council and the People's Assembly.
According to article 76 of the Constitution, the majority of the members of both houses nominate the candidate for presidency, and the president is elected by direct popular vote for a six-year tenure.
Over the past 29 years, Mubarak has always tried to give key positions to the members of the incumbent National Democratic Party, which has deprived the Egyptian elite of political participation.
There are basically two powerful institutions directly involved in forming the structure of political, security, and economic power.
The first one is the Armed Forces. The president of Egypt has always come to power from within the ranks of the Armed Forces since 1952, when army officers of the "The Free Officers Movement" carried out a coup d'état against King Farouk.
Over the past 48 years, General Muhammad Naguib, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Anwar El Sadat, and Hosni Mubarak, all members of Egypt's Armed Forces, have respectively ruled Egypt.
The second institution that has an effective role in framing domestic and foreign policies is the intelligence organizations of Egypt, without whose consent, it is impossible to elect a president, form a parliament, establish parties, or elect cabinet members.
Thus, the likely death of Mubarak, who is also the commander-in-chief of the country's Armed Forces, will complicate the political situation of the country.
The political elite of Egypt have recently made several suggestions to lead Egypt out of a likely crisis in the future.
The first option proposed by renowned Egyptian journalist Mohammed Hassanein Heikal is to establish a council of experts to amend several articles of the Constitution.
The most important article of the Constitution that hinders collective participation is article 76 that emphasizes every presidential candidate either has to gain the votes of 250 members of both houses of the parliament (i.e the Shura Council and People's Assembly), or must have the experience of heading a legal party for five consecutive years.
Hassanein Heikal believes that once this constitutional article is amended, the Egyptian elites will have an opportunity for collective participation and Egypt will enter a new process of forming a democratic system.
Heikal's suggestion has faced opposition from Egypt's intelligence organizations who believe that an increase in the number of election candidates will cause political chaos in Egypt.
Some of the elite have suggested that the Armed Forces and the influential intelligence organizations refrain from interfering in the issues of the country's presidential election; so that the path will be paved for the participation of non-military figures in the upcoming election of Egypt to be held in 2011.
Possible candidates for the election are former IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei, prominent Egyptian chemist and Nobel laureate Ahmed Zewail, chairman of the opposition El Ghad “Tomorrow” Party Ayman Nur, Arab League Secretary General Amr Mussa, a Muslim Brotherhood leader Esam Al-Aryan, the Egyptian president's son Gamal Mubarak, and Chief of the Egyptian Intelligence Amr Suleiman.
Considering Hosni Mubarak's health, and the expressions of concern by the US, European countries and Israel over Egypt's vague political future after Mubarak, is it possible to run a healthy and competitive election in the country?
Without changing certain articles of the Constitution, participation is impossible for the Egyptian non-factional political figures who wish to enter the election competition without backing from the Armed Forces or Egyptian parties.
Therefore, the likely death of Hosni Mubarak before the 2011 election would result in the Armed Forces to stage a coup and take control of power for a while.
On the other hand, Gamal Mubarak's chance to assume power is higher than the other candidates, as he is backed by the incumbent party and the Armed Forces.
If Hosni Mubarak's son wins in the presidential elections, the wave of dissatisfaction will intensify among Egyptian intellectuals, who believe that the transfer of power from father to son has resulted in the formation of a new system in the political literature of the Arab world: “royal republic.”
Regarding the vulnerability of the Egyptian society, one must mention the large population of Egyptian non-Muslims, the Qibtis, who are not included in the country's decision-making process. This minority constitutes 12 percent of the 80 million population of Egypt.
The Qibtis or the “eastern Christians” call for a change in the articles of the Constitution and a redefinition of the new law, because the current law does not give them an opportunity for political participation.
Thus, Mubarak's likely death may lead to a conflict between the elite, the middle class and the non-Muslims on the one hand and the Armed Forces, who always holds power, on the other hand.
That is why Israel is more worried about the situation in Egypt after Hosni Mubarak's death; the leaders of Israel fear that Mubarak's sudden death may cause a power vacuum and finally lead to a civil war in Egypt; and the Muslim Brotherhood may take power by taking advantage of such a situation.
In the political definition given by leaders of Israel, it is natural that the coming to power of the Muslim Brotherhood, that has extraordinary influence in Egypt, will lead to annulling peace treaties between Egypt and Israel.
This will be harmful for the security of the Israeli regime, because the power of Palestinian resistance movements to resume their armed struggle would increase.
Therefore, the Israeli army has already deployed its forces along the common border between Palestine and Egypt in order to be prepared to confront any possible changes in the country.