Egypt: Current Crisis and Possible Ways Forward

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Tank in Cairo
Tank in Cairo. Photo: Jonathan Rashad/flickr.

On October 24, the ISN co-hosted a roundtable discussion with the Cordoba Foundation on the recent political turmoil in Egypt and on the possible ways to resolve it. Today, we present some of the discussion’s highlights, with a particular emphasis on the observations made by Dr Maha Azzam.

The discussion started off by focusing on the ‘narratives’ that the Western media has used to both bound and characterize the Arab Spring. In the following response, Dr Azzam focuses on the term ‘Islamism’ and how it has been misused, often with negative consequences, by media outlets, politicians and others.

After the Muslim Brotherhood came to power, the narratives used to characterize the future political trajectory of Egypt certainly didn’t disappear – they just became increasingly polarized and ‘binary’. In the following segment, the ISN’s Peter Faber and Dr Azzam consider how binary thinking has oversimplified the political and social discourse about Egypt and its politics.

The Arab upheavals have indeed been about ‘pushing back’ and transforming the social and political orders that have dominated much of the Middle East for decades. In this section, Dr Azzam considers how the Egyptian people have attempted to roll back the country’s ‘deep state’, which is an institution that’s become synonymous with corruption and economic stagnation.

Are calls for further political transformation in Egypt gradually losing momentum? Will Egypt ever become a fully democratic state? In response to these questions, Dr Azzam envisions a long road ahead for Egypt if it is to strengthen its civic society and promote true social justice.

During the question and answer period with the audience, Dr Azzam elaborated on the relationship between the US, the EU and Egypt’s ‘deep state’. She also characterized the impact Egypt’s political woes are having on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

As a follow up, Mr Faber and Dr Azzam suggest that Egypt’s ongoing political struggles continue to center on the organic growth of personal and collective empowerment, political self-determination, and effective representation.

In this final section, Mr Faber and Dr Azzam speculate on what the future holds for Egypt’s relations with the United States and Saudi Arabia. They also consider how the country might go about resolving its current political impasse.

For additional material on this topic please see:

Reforming the Muslim Brotherhood

Egypt: A Political Road Map

Talking to Arab Youth: Revolution and Counterrevolution in Egypt and Tunisia

For more information on issues and events that shape our world please visit the ISN’s Weekly Dossiers and Security Watch.

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