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Egypt's Fall in the Arab World: Speeding the Transition Is Crucial

Author: Ed Husain, Adjunct Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies
October 7, 2011
New York Times


The slogan across Egypt after the revolution was “irfa' rasak, inta masri,” which translates to, “raise your head, you're an Egyptian.” This new-found pride was tacit admission of a previous sense of lowliness among Egyptians and a general malaise among Arabs. Egyptians raising their heads had consequences for the region.

Political, social and economic expectations in Egypt are running exceptionally high at the moment. By illustrating to the region that a dictator can be overthrown peacefully, Egypt injected new hope and pride in the Arab people. But destruction has been easier than construction. With three-month-long parliamentary elections starting next month, there's a dearth of quality (and young) presidential candidates. A lack of credible policies from the main political parties will most likely lead to frustrations in the short term.

The rise of Islamist and Salafist organizations can pose social and political problems. The dark shadow of the Arab-Israeli conflict also looms large with Egyptian-Israeli relations growing tense. A strong Islamist presence in next month's Egyptian parliamentary elections may well embolden Hamas in Gaza, leading to possible conflict in the region. And if the Muslim Brotherhood is proven to be too close to Hamas, U.S. aid to Egypt may well be affected.

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