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  • Tunisia stands out

    Tunisia stands out

    With the conclusion of the parliamentary and presidential elections, based on a constitution that finely balances the country’s Islamic heritage with the need for modernity, Tunisia has done what Egypt has failed to do.

    December 31, 2014

    Mubarak’s Fall in Egypt: How and Why did it Happen?

    After nearly 30 years in power, the Hosni Mubarak regime in Egypt, considered by many to be the strongest in the Arab world, collapsed suddenly in February 2011 after a mere 18 days of street protests. In this article, we try to explain the puzzling collapse of the Mubarak regime using regime transition theory. We argue that the Mubarak regime’s collapse came about as a result of four key developments, none of which were sufficient to cause the regime’s collapse, but when coalesced together exposed the regime’s lack of coercive and persuasive powers, thereby hastening its demise.

    January 2015

    Egypt's Uneasy Transition: Internal and External Dynamics and Challenges for India

    Egypt's Uneasy Transition: Internal and External Dynamics and Challenges for India

    Amidst the ‘Arab Spring’ nations, the most keenly watched and followed developments have been in Egypt. Being one of the largest Arab nations, lynchpin of peace treaty with Israel, key US ally and a nation of potent and modern armed forces, Egypt deserved the attention. And so, the success or otherwise of the Arab revolutions hinged on the success or failure in Egypt. However the transition in Egypt has been far from smooth so far.

    Where is Egypt going?

    With Egypt’s reversion to military rule, even if it is sanctified through an election process less than free and fair, one can say definitely that the pro-democracy tide in the Arab world is subsiding. The only success story so far is Tunisia where the Ennahda, an affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood, has shown maturity and superior political navigational skills .

    February 03, 2014

    Chemical and Biological Weapons in Egypt and Libya

    Egypt has for long possessed chemical weapons (CW) and biological weapons (BW), and was unable to make much progress in the nuclear weapons (NW) domain, at least as yet, Qaddafi's Libya on the other hand produced CW, developed BW, neared nuclear capacity as well, eventually, but shifted to total deproliferation in due course.

    Post-Morsi Egypt: Saudi Manoeuvring and Iranian Dilemma

    The issue brief analyses the changing patterns of relationship of Saudi Arabia and Iran, the two major players in the Gulf, with Egypt in the backdrop of the removal of Morsi.

    September 27, 2013

    The Islamist Challenge in West Asia: Doctrinal and Political Competitions After the Arab Spring

    The Islamist Challenge in West Asia: Doctrinal and Political Competitions After the Arab Spring
    • Publisher: Pentagon Press

    Following the Arab Spring, the West Asia-North Africa (WANA) region is witnessing interactions between the various strands of Islamism-Wahhabiya in Saudi Arabia; the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and its affiliates in other Arab countries, and the radical strand represented by Al Qaeda and its associated organisations - in an environment of robust competition and even conflict. This work examines these issues in some details. It provides an overview of the political aspects of Islamic law – the Sharia, as it evolved from early Islam and, over the last two hundred years, experienced the impact of Western colonialism. This book draws on a rich variety of source material which has been embellished by the author’s extensive diplomatic experience in the Arab world over three decades.

    • ISBN 978-81-8274-737-1,
    • Price: ₹. 695/-
    • E-copy available

    Ravi Mittal asked: Why does the US support Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt?

    Rajeev Agarwal replies: I don't think the US supports the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. In fact, as per some analysts, the US, along with other major stakeholders in the region like Saudi Arabia, could be behind the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

    The US did support the people’s revolution in Egypt in January 2011, but at that time Muslim Brotherhood was not a recognised or overt political entity. It was much later after the installation of the interim government under the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) in Egypt that Muslim Brotherhood formed the Freedom and Justice Party. They later won the parliamentary and the presidential elections in Egypt.

    However, contrary to the US expectations, President Morsi attempted to chart out an independent course for Egypt without being wholly dependent on the US. It attempted to forge better ties with Iran, supported the cause of Hamas in Gaza Strip and even put peace treaty with Israel on the edge.

    The Muslim Brotherhood, meanwhile, was expanding its influence elsewhere in the region too, which couldn't have been to the liking of the US. In short, Muslim Brotherhood’s growing influence could have been one of the major contributory factors to its ouster in Egypt. Thus, the US cannot be seen to be supporting the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

    Akshay Shinde asked: Can the return of military rule in Egypt be seen as the failure of Arab Spring?

    Gulshan Dietl replies: The present situation in Egypt does look like a reversal of the process that began on December 18, 2011. Muhammad Morsi, the democratically-elected president, is overthrown and is being held in an undisclosed location with serious charges levelled against him; his supporters, mainly the Muslim Brotherhood, have come under severe crackdown; more than 2,000 of them have been arrested; the Muslim Brotherhood itself is facing dissolution as a registered non-governmental organisation; some prominent journalists, lawyers and trade unionists are detained; Christians are under threat and some of their churches and monasteries are ransacked and looted. To top it all, Hosni Mubarak, the target of the Arab Spring in Egypt, is released from the prison and is now under house arrest – a highly symbolic move indicating a reversal to the pre-Spring order.

    The return of the military rule in Egypt, however, needs to be looked at in a broader perspective. None of the post-Spring states have so far achieved what the Spring set out to do. Egypt is firmly under the military rule, the government in Tunisia is facing popular protests on a daily basis, there is no real government in Libya, and Yemen is slowly turning into a haven for fugitives. The states that did not see a regime change are also in ferment: Syria in a state of civil war, ruthless persecution of the protesters in Bahrain, as also various forms of demonstrations, marches, sit-ins, rallies, strikes, etc., in mild to severe forms in most of the Arab states.

    The revolutions are messy and unpredictable. As long as the cauldron of discontent is simmering, and the regimes are responding either by suppressing it or by accommodating it, the Arab Spring will go on. The methods may not be similar and the outcomes may not be uniform in different states. And it may be a very long process as well.

    Anasur Rahman asked: Why is Saudi Arabia, being a Wahhabi Sunni-dominated nation, opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt, unlike Qataris, and supports the interim regime there?

    Gulshan Dietl replies: The Brotherhood is primarily political seeking to confront the imperialist West as also the godless regimes in West Asia. The Saudis, on the other hand, follow Wahhabism, which is primarily religious seeking to purify Islam and restore it to its original glory. At the peak of pan-Arab ideology across the Arab world, Saudi Arabia had provided asylum to the members of the Muslim Brotherhood who sought refuge from Nasser’s Egypt or Hafez al-Assad’s Syria. Since then, the Saudis and the Muslim Brotherhood have been on divergent paths. Beyond the ideological differences, there are serious political considerations. The onset of “Arab Spring” has seen the ascendance of Muslim Brotherhood in post-Spring states. Egypt has always been an influential regional power in West Asia. The Muslim Brotherhood there could be an inspiration for pro-democracy movements and consequently a threat to stability in the Kingdom. The former Saudi Minister of Interior Prince Nayef was reported to have said, “The Muslim Brotherhood is the cause of most of the Arab World’s problems and has done vast amounts of damage in Saudi Arabia.” Unsurprisingly, therefore, the Saudis have generously supported the interim regime in Egypt.

    The Saudi-Qatari rivalries run deep in spite of the fact that both follow Wahhabism, are rich in energy resources, are ruled by monarchies and have strategic ties with the US. Qatar has a small population and an enormous wealth. In the circumstances, the “Arab Spring” did not manifest itself in Qatar. In fact, it provided the country an opportunity to project its role in the region and beyond. The new ruler of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim al-Thani, is expected to bring about reconciliation between the two royal dynasties.