After Mubarak, what's next for Egypt?

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Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Post asked experts what should happen in Egypt after Mubarak. Below are responses from Michele Dunne, John R. Bolton, Newt Gingrich, Shadi Hamid, Aaron David Miller, Salman Shaikh, and Dina Guirguis.

MICHELE DUNNE

Senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and editor of Arab Reform Bulletin

After Hosni Mubarak surrenders his powers, a transitional government should oversee a process leading to free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections within six to nine months. Ideally, the transitional government should include respected figures from the Mubarak government, senior judges and members of opposition groups.

The parliament fraudulently elected in November should be dissolved (preferably as Mubarak's final act as president), the state of emergency in place since 1981 lifted, and a constitutional assembly composed of judges and civil society figures convened to draft significant amendments to the Egyptian constitution. At a minimum, articles will need to be amended to ease eligibility to run for the presidency and to form political parties, establishing presidential term limits, and to form a credible independent commission to administer elections. Other objectionable provisions of the constitution - allowing authorities to set aside human rights protections in terrorism cases, for example - should be amended at the same time.

This is an ideal scenario; actual developments are unlikely to unfold this smoothly. What is important is that Egypt should move toward a fully democratic system rather than a military regime or a slightly liberalized autocracy.

JOHN R. BOLTON

Senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute; U.S. ambassador to the United Nations from August 2005 to December 2006

In Egypt, fierce popular demands for President Hosni Mubarak's immediate departure may prevail, although he has upheld peace with Israel and alignment with America for 30 years. But everyone will remember that we treated the autocratic Mubarak like a used Kleenex, at a potentially huge cost to us, Israel, friendly Arab regimes and other "allies" globally.

Conceptually, of course, America supports democracy, but calling for it is not tantamount to achieving it. Terrorists and totalitarians masquerading as political parties are not democrats. Democracy is a way of life, not simply the counting of votes, which can lead back to anti-democratic rule, as Russia and Lebanon now demonstrate.

Egypt's real regime is the military establishment, which must restore stability, domestically and in the Middle East, to allow whatever progress toward a truly democratic culture may emerge. The idea that immediate elections will bring the Age of Aquarius to Egypt is misguided; far better to proceed when true democrats, not just the Muslim Brotherhood, are ready.

In international politics, as in everyday life, strongly held moral or philosophical principles can come into conflict, requiring painful choices. Pursuing one value or ideal unswervingly and hoping the rest will ultimately fall into place is wishful thinking.


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