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Egypt After Mubarak

This article by Paul Amar in Jadaliyya is the best “big picture” analysis I’ve seen of what’s happening now in Egypt, looking at power blocs, social strata, and their competing and overlapping interests.

    “President Hosni Mubarak lost his political power on Friday, 28 January. […] When the evening call to prayer rang out and no one heeded Mubarak’s curfew order, it was clear that the old president been reduced to a phantom authority. In order to understand where Egypt is going, and what shape democracy might take there, we need to set the extraordinarily successful popular mobilizations into their military, economic and social context. What other forces were behind this sudden fall of Mubarak from power? And how will this transitional military-centered government get along with this millions-strong protest movement? […]
    “The new cabinet is composed of chiefs of Intelligence, Air Force and the prison authority…. This group embodies a hard-core ‘stability coalition’ that will work to bring together the interests of new military, national capital and labor, all the while reassuring the United States. […] But none of it will count as a democratic transition until the vast new coalition of local social movements and internationalist Egyptians break into this circle and insist on setting the terms and agenda for transition.”

The “breaking in” of the “vast new coalition” is what the current standoff is about. Once negotiations begin in earnest between the “security coalition” of Vice President Omar Suleiman, and representatives of the popular uprising such as Mohammed ElBaradei, the structures of a new democratic Egypt can begin to take shape.

If you prefer a blow-by-blow account of what’s happening in the streets, I recommend The Guardian’s News Blog (look for the latest “Egypt protests – live updates”) or the coverage by Al Jazeera English (look for the latest “Live blog – Egypt protests”).

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