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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

End of an Era

Filed under: Jerusalem

Nobody knows if a democratic system will emerge in Egypt. During the 1920s, ‘30s and ‘40s, Egypt experienced a similar period when, under the leadership of the Wafd Party, liberal democracy was introduced. However, the democracy was fragile and was accompanied by violence from the Muslim Brotherhood and fascist groups.

The current revolution has released radical forces as well, who found it difficult to operate under Mubarak’s regime, like the Muslim Brotherhood, Nasserists, and leftists. One can expect that under the guise of the victory of the revolution and the beginning of the democratization process, these groups will do everything to strengthen themselves and become part of the ruling powers. The Brotherhood, understanding the fear they arouse, is acting cautiously and already announced that they will not participate in the temporary government that will be established. They will wait patiently for the right moment.

Egypt has stopped being an important regional power. With the disappearance of Mubarak and the beginning of an uncertain period without a leader, Egypt will be forced to turn inward in order to establish a new regime, rehabilitate the economy, and introduce far-reaching reforms. Therefore, regional leadership will go to Iran and Turkey – which is returning to play an active role the Middle East. The U.S.’ Arab allies – Saudi Arabia, Yemen, the Gulf States, Morocco, and Algeria – now fear a Tunisian or Egyptian-style popular uprising, and increasing subversion from Iran and radical organizations like al-Qaeda.

The writer, a former Israeli ambassador to Egypt and Sweden, is a Fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.