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Around the Halls: A New Egypt

Authors: Shadi Hamid, Deputy Director of the Brookings Doha Center and Fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution., Salman Shaikh, Martin S. Indyk, Director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, Brookings Institution, Kenneth M. Pollack, Director of Research, Saban Center for Middle East Policy, and Shibley Telhami, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy, Saban Center for Middle East Policy, Brookings Institution
February 11, 2011

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In the wake of Mubarak's ouster experts discuss the future of Egypt and the reverberations in the Arab world and beyond.

It took 18 days. Egyptians had their revolution. The morning after the revolution, I spent some time in Tahrir (“Liberation”) Square talking to a few of the youth activists who made February 11 possible. The sense of both relief and celebration is palpable. But that feeling of celebration is unlikely to last. Nothing can take away the achievements of the past weeks, but it is worth noting that the revolution is not complete and its promises far from fulfilled. A military takeover is not the same thing as democracy. And so, today, the slow, difficult – and often painful – work of democratic transitions begins.

The military is in charge, but no one quite knows what the military wants. The army has been treated as an independent actor, and one naturally close to the people. But the Egyptian military, long the backbone of the old regime, bears some responsibility for the past several decades of repression. It is possible that, with the world watching and Egyptians hoping, the military will transform itself into a force for Egyptian democracy. It is also possible that it won’t.

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