AirTalk for August 29, 2011

Shaping power outside Tahrir Square

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by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

Demonstrators hold a placard with a crossed out photograph of former President Hosni Mubarak in Tahrir Square on May 27, 2011 in Cairo, Egypt.

When Egyptians revolted in the streets of Cairo, it was clear what they did not want: authoritarian rule, a security state, a weak economy, and, most of all, a desperate lack of democratic representation. Now, whether and what Egyptians' role will be in their own governance is a huge question mark. As journalist Alia Malek explains in the latest edition of The Nation, "the unity displayed in Tahrir when it came to unseating [President Hosni] Mubarak has given way to major disunity around the question of how to move the country forward." In the interim, the military leaders of SCAF (the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces) are the governing authority. While up to 50 political parties expect to be represented in the country's inaugural election in the fall, SCAF could wield more influence over the results than the ballot box. Even though it’s believed SCAF is sincere in its desire to hand over authority to parliament, some experts worry the military is not as willing to surrender to a political commander-in-chief. In the coming months, will the military support or thwart democracy in Egypt? Will SCAF have much of a choice if powerful political parties emerge? How quickly can Egyptians ready their parties and build a democracy? Which parties will be best prepared for an election? What role will Islam play in the constitution and government, and does it matter?

Guests:

Alia Malek, journalist and civil rights lawyer, author of “Democracy 101 for Egypt” in the latest issue of The Nation magazine; author of A Country Called Amreeka: U.S. History Retold Through Arab-American Lives

Jeffrey Martini, Middle East Research Project Associate, Rand Corporation; co-author of “Commanding Democracy in Egypt: The Military’s Attempt to Manage the Future” in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs


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