Monday, March 26, 2007

Let freedom Strain

Hosni Mubarak and his ruling party opened up the Egyptian constitution to a reform referendum that was apparently voted on by about 63 people. Ok, maybe a few more than that, but I believe Reuters used the word "trickle" when describing the "queues" at the polling place. So what got about 3% of Cairo's voting age population in such an enthusiastic furor? The 34 legislative reforms seek to, in Mubarak's words, "protect the republic from terrorism." It turns out that this is best accomplished by banning religious parties from participating in elections. I wonder who they had mind?

Ok, Maybe they didn't have Hassan al Bana in mind, so much his political offspring. The Muslim Brotherhood is the largest opposition group in the country, and suddenly finds itself in possession of even more rhetorical ammunition. One can expect both a short term surge in Ikhwan popularity, as well as increasing pressure for Gamal Mubarak to announce definitively that he has no designs on his father's position. I find it unlikley that the latter will actually occur, and if Gamal does in fact succeed his father as president, it may prove the tipping point. The current regime can ill afford a practical alliance between the Ikhwan and Ayun Nur's progressive ranks.

By the way, where is the U.S. State Department? Surprised they miss an opportunity to chastise friends for making light of the rule of law. Oh wait, Hosni is on our side. He's on of the good dictator Arab guys. Right.

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