Why I am not worried about a coup

Jun 18

Egyptians are rightly outraged by the supplemental constitutional declaration issued by SCAF immediately after voting in the runoff ended last night.  There is little doubt that SCAF intends to neuter the power of the recently elected president and reserve real power in its own hands.  The question is whether it can succeed in doing so. 

Ever since the resignation of Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, Egyptian politics has unfolded as a result of a tug of war between forces in favor of change and status quo forces who wish to minimize changes to the political, social and economic status quo.  The crucial thing, then, is whether the same broad Tahrir coalition that successfully toppled Mubarak can unite to resist this power grab.  If so, it is unlikely, in my opinion, that the SCAF has much staying power to resist widespread protests and strikes.  This naked power grab was clearly a second-best plan, implemented after they lost confidence that Shafik would win.  So, this coup would only be effective if the Egyptian people allow it; the defeat of Shafik, in my opinion, is a good indicator that they will resist these “constitutional declarations.”  Second, it should not be forgotten that Egypt is in a deep structural mess.  How will SCAF govern the country? It lacks the technical expertise, and it is unlikely that any competent Egyptian who cares about his or her reputation will be willing to serve a SCAF-dominated government.  That was the lesson that should be taken from the failure of the transitional government led by Isam Sharaf and then the failure of SCAF to find anyone other than Kamal al-Ganzuri to serve as prime minister.  So, the most important thing remains what the revolutionaries do; SCAF can only maneuver to the extent the revolutionaries give SCAF an opening.

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