Progress, Setbacks, and the State of Play in Egypt’s Political Transition

TV/Radio Broadcast Press Conference USA
Nearly a year after the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak, Egypt is still engaged in fundamental political debates over the future of its political system.
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Since the overthrow of deposed President Hosni Mubarak on February 11, 2011, Egypt’s transition has experienced limited progress and many setbacks. Marina Ottaway, speaking to Press Conference USA, noted, “it is important not to call what happened in Egypt a revolution yet. A revolution is something more fundamental than what we have seen so far in Egypt.” There remain important struggles over what Egypt’s political system will look like in the years to come. Moreover, a four way political struggle is underway between the military and remnants of the old regime, Islamists, leftist and liberal political parties, and the youth movements of the streett. 

Ottaway suggested that, in the short term, it will become clear if the protest movements can continue to play an important role in the Egyptian political process. With the anniversaries of the initial protests and Mubarak’s resignation near, protesters are planning a renewed push to call for the military to abdicate power. How Egyptians respond to these protests will demonstrate the role, or lack thereof, that protesters will play in the future of Egypt’s transition.

Over the course of the next several months, the parliament, dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice party and the Salafist al-Nour, will work with the military to cobble together a constitution before presidential elections in June. Ottaway suggested that this hurried constitution writing process will likely “sweep important issues under the rug and create a situation where a president is elected without clearly enumerated powers.” During the constitution writing process,Ottaway asserted the Muslim Brotherhood is likely to push for a hybrid presidential-parliamentary system, much like the French system, with power sharing between a president and prime minister. Alternatively, the military will likely argue for maintaining a strongly presidential system to limit the power of the Muslim Brotherhood. However, with the Brotherhood’s strong showing in the parliamentary elections “it will be difficult to sideline them,” concluded Ottaway.

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About the Middle East Program

The Carnegie Middle East Program combines in-depth local knowledge with incisive comparative analysis to examine economic, sociopolitical, and strategic interests in the Arab world. Through detailed country studies and the exploration of key crosscutting themes, the Carnegie Middle East Program, in coordination with the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, provides analysis and recommendations in both English and Arabic that are deeply informed by knowledge and views from the region. The program has special expertise in political reform and Islamist participation in pluralistic politics.


In Fact



of the Chinese general public

believe their country should share a global leadership role.


of Indian parliamentarians

have criminal cases pending against them.


charter schools in the United States

are linked to Turkey’s Gülen movement.


thousand tons of chemical weapons

are in North Korea’s possession.


of import tariffs

among Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru have been eliminated.


trillion a year

is unaccounted for in official Chinese income statistics.


of GDP in oil-exporting Arab countries

comes from the mining sector.


of Europeans and Turks

are opposed to intervention in Syria.


of Russian exports to China

are hydrocarbons; machinery accounts for less than 1%.


of undiscovered oil

is in the Arctic.


U.S. government shutdowns

occurred between 1976 and 1996.


of Ukrainians

want an “international economic union” with the EU.


million electric bicycles

are used in Chinese cities.


of the world’s energy supply

is consumed by cities.


of today’s oils

require unconventional extraction techniques.


of the world's population

will reside in cities by 2050.


of Syria’s population

is expected to be displaced by the end of 2013.


of the U.S. economy

is consumed by healthcare.


of Brazilian protesters

learned about a massive rally via Facebook or Twitter.


million cases pending

in India’s judicial system.

1 in 3


now needs urgent assistance.


political parties

contested India’s last national elections.


of Egypt's labor force

works in the private sector.


of oil consumed in the United States

is for the transportation sector.


of Chechnya’s pre-1994 population

has fled to different parts of the world.


of oil consumed in China

was from foreign sources in 2012.


billion in goods and services

traded between the United States and China in 2012.


billion in foreign investment and oil revenue

have been lost by Iran because of its nuclear program.


increase in China’s GDP per capita

between 1972 and today.


billion have been spent

to complete the Bushehr nuclear reactor in Iran.


of Iran’s electricity needs

is all the Bushehr nuclear reactor provides.



were imprisoned in Turkey as of August 2012 according to the OSCE.

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