Monday, February 7, 2011


The Egyptian demonstrations have been led by common folks wanting a corrupt and a dictatorial leader out of power and out of their country. The Muslim Brotherhood is a late comer to the game. In fact the first few days of uprising they stood on the sidelines probably fearing that crowds could turn on them. Watching things heat up, they have gradually come into the fold. By now it is a well known fact that the uprising has nothing to do with the Brotherhood, but, if there is no quick resolution and uncertainty continues, they stand to reap rewards far greater than they deserve.

The Obama Administration's backtracking on Hosni Mubarak's departure may have inflicted a minor blow to the uprising. But Hosni Mubarak's plan to stay till September and oversee election of his cronies will not be palatable to the Egyptian public. They have had enough of him in thirty years and they want to see the back of him sooner rather than later. The self appointed pundits like Farid Zakaria saying that army will outlast the crowds will probably be proven wrong, as usual.

Egyptian economy has already suffered $3 billion damage and the longer Mubarak remains as Head of State (with or without full powers), the demonstrations will continue and the losses will multiply. Hosni Mubarak has no credibility to bring a meaningful change to Egyptian constitution or arrange an orderly transition. At this time, he is a catalyst for more violence and upheaval. He should leave Egypt NOW before he suffers a Mussolini like fate.

The immediate need is to pacify Egyptian public by replacing Mubarak with an interim non-political Authority with a mandate to come up with a constitutional reform package and oversee a fair and transparent election. The interim authority should ideally be headed by a superior court judge and not by the Vice President or the Speaker (both Mubarak's party men). Once Mubarak is out and the Authority is in place, the public will most likely go back to their daily lives.

Only then can the new political parties be formed and electioneering begin in earnest. If this path is followed, chances are Egyptian public will reject the Brotherhood, who will be lucky to get 2 to 3% of the vote. However, a prolonged agitation will only strengthen their hands and they would gain significantly by playing on people's fears.

It is time for President Obama and Hillary Clinton to act as visionary leaders, with behind the scenes diplomacy and not many public statements. Also, they should not pay attention to those advisors who are for Mubarak's stay or continued involvement till September. Lest the Iranain revolution repeats itself in Egypt.

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