Why the Egyptian opposition can’t get along

Egyptian voters cast their ballots Tuesday for the Shura council, the country’s upper house of Parliament, amidst widespread allegations of vote-rigging and outright government violence and intimidation. Even by Egypt’s low standards, the polls marked a tightening of political space for the opposition. The regime’s ability to repress with impunity is, in part, the result ...

CRIS BOURONCLE/AFP/Getty Images
CRIS BOURONCLE/AFP/Getty Images
CRIS BOURONCLE/AFP/Getty Images

Egyptian voters cast their ballots Tuesday for the Shura council, the country's upper house of Parliament, amidst widespread allegations of vote-rigging and outright government violence and intimidation. Even by Egypt's low standards, the polls marked a tightening of political space for the opposition. The regime's ability to repress with impunity is, in part, the result of the still dismal state of the country's many opposition groups, whose perpetual inability to get along continues to confound observers.   

Given the seismic shifts in the Egyptian political arena during the past few months, the fractured nature of the opposition is particularly surprising. This is - as Islamist writer Ibrahim al-Houdaiby put it to me - a "moment of real change." The health of President Hosni Mubarak, in power since 1981, has deteriorated. During a prolonged absence in a German hospital, Egyptians were able to not just contemplate, but visualize, an Egypt without Mubarak.

Read more.

Egyptian voters cast their ballots Tuesday for the Shura council, the country’s upper house of Parliament, amidst widespread allegations of vote-rigging and outright government violence and intimidation. Even by Egypt’s low standards, the polls marked a tightening of political space for the opposition. The regime’s ability to repress with impunity is, in part, the result of the still dismal state of the country’s many opposition groups, whose perpetual inability to get along continues to confound observers.   

Given the seismic shifts in the Egyptian political arena during the past few months, the fractured nature of the opposition is particularly surprising. This is – as Islamist writer Ibrahim al-Houdaiby put it to me – a "moment of real change." The health of President Hosni Mubarak, in power since 1981, has deteriorated. During a prolonged absence in a German hospital, Egyptians were able to not just contemplate, but visualize, an Egypt without Mubarak.

Read more.

Shadi Hamid is a senior fellow in Brookings’ Center for Middle East Policy and the author of Islamic Exceptionalism: How the Struggle Over Islam is Reshaping the World.

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