Friday, February 11, 2011

Egypt's future still in doubt


By GARY BAUMGARTEN
There’s jubilation in Egypt following the departure from the country of Hosni Mubarak who, after three decades in power, finally gave up the presidency under pressure from the people who had taken to the streets by the hundreds of thousands to demand his immediate resignation. But is that celebration premature?
While the free world watches with hope for the Egyptian people, there are concerns that the military – which now controls the nation – may not wish to give up that authority. Or that Mubarak’s hand-picked vice president – the dreaded intelligence chief Omar Suleiman – may not want to relinquish control either.
Or that the Muslim Brotherhood might try to install a theocratic regime like that in Iran.
All of the above are possibilities, says Zev Chafets, the American-born Israeli journalist and author who, as Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s Government Press Office chief, participated in the landmark and still standing Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty process.
Those who are celebrating what they hope will be their new-found freedoms in Egypt should not, Chafets cautioned, lose sight of who took Mubarak’s place.
“He was replaced by a cadre of senior officers which is pretty much the way his party came to office in 1952 … in a coup of military officers. Whether that leads to democracy … is sort of up in the air right now,” he said during an interview with me on News Talk Online on the Paltalk News Network.
There are concerns as well, Chafets says, with the future relationships between Israel and Egypt.
“I think we sort have to wait and see,” Chafets said. In terms of who takes over and what their attitude will be towards Israel and the United States – I think that’s an open question.”
Gary Baumgarten is News and Programming director at the Paltalk News Network.

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