MEI is pleased to introduce its Conversations Series, which features informal interviews with prominent individuals about current events and/or their experience and work relating to the Middle East, Asia, and the Institute.
“It’s a counter revolution. It is a counter coup by the forces of the old regime to deal a decisive blow to the 2011 revolution,” says Dr. Michael Hudson, Director of the Middle East Institute in Singapore.
On Thursday, the Egyptian high court announced the dissolution of the Egyptian lower house, citing reasons of illegal contestation of one-third of parliamentary seats. The second blow came when the court ruled Ahmed Shafik, the former prime minister of the Mubarak regime, eligible to contest the runoff of the 2012 Egyptian presidential elections. This overturned an earlier law that barred former stakeholders in the Mubarak regime from running for president.
“Such a ruling puts Egypt in a very awkward position with polls set for Saturday and Sunday,” Hudson explains. Dr. Robert Bianchi, a visiting research professor at MEI, believes that this move compromises every single Egyptian political institution. “The elected legislature is gone, there is no elected executive, the judiciary is discredited, and the military is a pariah,” he says. “This isn’t a blow against the Muslim Brotherhood. It is a blow against democratic institutions.”
When asked about the effects of the twin rulings on Saturday and Sunday’s polls, Hudson and Bianchi are not optimistic, saying, “If Shafik wins, no one will believe the outcome. If the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, Mohammed Morsi, wins, Egypt will be headed for real turmoil.”
Internationally, they believe that Egyptian-American relations will suffer. “Many Egyptians will perceive an American hand in this, whether valid or not,” Bianchi asserts. On the American end, Hudson claims that Congress will look to the Israel lobby to make sense of the situation. “Tel Aviv will interpret the situation for them, and they may be inclined to take a heavy-handed approach to handle the turmoil in Egypt.”
As a whole, the situation in Egypt does not look bright. With protestors back on the streets and much of the population mystified over Thursday’s court ruling, Egypt may very well be headed for a second and much deeper revolution. “The military have not shot themselves in the foot,” says Bianchi. “They have shot themselves in the head.”
Interview by MEI Intern David Wong De-Wei.