- By Marc Lynch
Marc Lynch is associate professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University, where he is the director of the Institute for Middle East Studies and of the Project on Middle East Political Science. He is also a non-resident senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. He is the author of The Arab Uprising (March 2012, PublicAffairs).
He publishes frequently on the politics of the Middle East, with a particular focus on the Arab media and information technology, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, and Islamist movements.
A demonstration outside the Cabinet building in central Cairo turned violent last night when soldiers attacked a sit-in which had been established three weeks ago. Protestors were pelted with rocks and even furniture from the buildings above. There are reports of almost 100 injured, and the battle continues to rage on. At least three members of the Advisory Council appointed by the SCAF have resigned in protest, and the political fallout is likely only beginning. After three weeks of orderly elections, Cairo once again looks like Bahrain.
When I walked through Qasr el-Aini street this afternoon it looked post-apocalyptic, with rubble strewn everywhere and an incredibly tense, unpleasant vibe. It seems to have gotten worse since then. The contrast from the orderly, calm voting stations I had visited over the last few days couldn’t have been more stark. The violence should puncture any illusions that the SCAF’s problems had evaporated with the high turnout and relatively smooth process of the Parliamentary elections now in their third week. Elections are necessary, but they are not sufficient.
Today’s sudden deterioration and brutal violence shows clearly that Egypt will remain unstable as long as the Egyptian military leadership fails to address core political grievances or impose any meaningful accountability for violence by its security forces. What the SCAF has thus far done is clearly not enough. Egypt can’t wait for the SCAF to transfer real power to an effective civilian government, end its abusive security tactics, and hold those responsible for the violence accountable.
This emphatically does not mean that the ongoing Parliamentary elections should be suspended. This should not be used as an Algeria-style excuse to step in and suspend elections which Islamists are dominating — that would truly pave the path towards a complete breakdown. The elections should continue on schedule, and the coming political battles over the constitution and the Parliament’s powers be allowed to unfold. But the elections can not substitute for those fundamental changes to how the SCAF is ruling Egypt, including real accountability for the unwarranted use of force, which need to be implemented now.
When the violence broke out, I had been planning out an article focused on the Muslim Brotherhood’s political options and intentions in the next phase. The coming political battles are fairly clearly telegraphed — the writing of the constitution, the formation of a Parliamentary coalition, the definition of the powers of the Parliament, and more. Today’s violence does not lessen the urgency of any of those political developments. But the sudden re-emergence of violence and the brutal misuse of force against protestors once again reveals the inherent instability created and sustained by the SCAF’s current course. Shuffling Prime Ministers, appointing a powerless Advisory Council, and even overseeing successful elections just isn’t enough.
Blake Hounshell is managing editor at Foreign Policy, having formerly been Web editor. Hounshell oversees ForeignPolicy.com and has commissioned and edited numerous cover stories for the print magazine, including National Magazine Award finalist "Why Do They Hate Us?" by Mona Eltahawy. He also edits The Cable, FP's first foray into daily original reporting, and was editor of Colum Lynch's Turtle Bay, which in 2011 won a National Magazine award for best reporting in a digital format.
Blake joined Foreign Policy in 2006 after living in Cairo, where he studied Arabic, missed his Steelers finally win one for the thumb, and worked for the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies. Blake was a 2011 finalist for the Livingston Awards prize for young journalists for his reporting on the Arab uprisings, and his Twitter feed was named one of Time magazine's "140 Best Twitter Feeds of 2011." Under his leadership, in 2008, Passport, FP's flagship blog, won Media Industry Newsletter's "Best of the Web" award in the blog category. Along with Elizabeth Dickinson, he edited Southern Tiger: Chile's Fight for a Democratic and Prosperous Future, the memoirs of former Chilean president Ricardo Lagos, published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2012.
A graduate of Yale University, Blake speaks mangled Arabic and French, is an avid runner, and lives in Washington with his wife, musician Sandy Choi, and their toddler, David. Follow him on Twitter @blakehounshell.| Dispatch |
The crackdown in Egypt: more than 500 dead; American influence there waning; Say no more: Poppa Panda Sexy Pants; Saying “drones” will get you in trouble; Why the F-35 sucks; and a bit more.Gordon Lubold
Gordon Lubold is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy. He is also the author of FP's Situation Report, an e-mailed newsletter that is blasted out to more than 70,000 national security and foreign affairs subscribers each morning that includes the top nat-sec news, breaking news, tidbits, nuggets and what he likes to call "candy." Before arriving at FP, he was a senior advisor at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, where he wrote on national security and foreign policy. Prior to his arrival at USIP, he was a defense reporter for Politico, where he launched the popular Morning Defense early morning blog and tip-sheet. Prior to that, he was the Pentagon and national security correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, and before that he was the Pentagon correspondent for the Army Times chain of newspapers. He has covered conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries in South Asia, and has reported on military matters in sub-Saharan Africa, East Asia and Latin America as well as at American military bases across the country. He has spoken frequently on the sometimes-contentious relationship between the military and the media as a guest on numerous panels. He also appears on radio and television, including on CNN, public radio's Diane Rehm and To the Point, and C-SPAN's Washington Journal. He lives in Alexandria with his wife and two children.| Situation Report |