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« Crônicas (narayan) | Main | Hot Flashes and Headlines (Sujatha) »

January 26, 2011


What's India got to do with an Egyptian uprising? Afghanistan, yes. Pakistan, may be. But Egyptians fleeing from a disturbed political situation at home are more likely to head towards other middle eastern countries or Europe. By the way, when I was studying in Delhi University, there were many Egyptian students (mostly in grad school) attending school there. But those were the peaceful days of "non-alignment," with the refrains of Nehru-Nassar friendship still alive in the minds of both nations.

It was exactly my point that india has little reason to worry about a "fundamentalist" Egypt. India has little to do with that affair and only got mentioned in that comment because I was commenting on an Indian's facebook page who had expressed worry about a "fundamentalist takeover in Egypt".
I threw in the line that India may actually benefit from such an event in two ways:
1. It may be the substitute trade partner in some small way (like it is for Iran in a much bigger way).
2. Some of the Egyptian technocratic elite WILL make it to India. I did not say most will. Most will undoubtedly flee to Europe or the USA or to other Arab countries. But in case of massive disorder, people flee where they can. SOME will undoubtedly make their way to India.

If things do get out of hand, then there is the issue of what organized force is in a position to control the situation. Obviously there is no such thing (even in Somalia) as pure anarchy. Whoever has some organized force tends to take control. In an organized modern state, that function is performed by the state. If Egypt is lucky, then their current corrupt ruling elite will have enough sense and staying power to reform themselves enought to satisfy the people’s aspiration for participation in society, fairness, democracy, etc, while maintaining basic law and order.
But given the long history of corrupt elite rule in Egypt and its inevitable decay at the core, it may be that they will either impose basic order by force WITHOUT reforming too much (just beat people to pulp in the approved third-world dictator fashion), or they will fall apart completely. IF things fall apart, then it all depends on who or what can organize a takeover of the remains. In 1917 in Russia, that was the Bolsheviks. In Egypt in 2012 that may be the Islamists.
And yes, in that case, things may go from bad to worse. My guess is that the Islamists, at least initially, will be less corrupt than the current regime, and they will permit many marginalized but talented people to rise, but given their retrogressive philosophical framework, they will not be able to make much progress and will lose a lot of the technocratic elite to migration. Unlike Iran, they dont have much oil, they dont have that strong and deep a cultural tradition, they dont have a very educated clergy, they have Israel next door and they are infected with just enough grandiose Arab grandstanding: they will not do well as an Islamic republic…

Now Yemen seems to be catching the fever. And Mubarak Jr. is reported to have fled to London.

Faster, pussycat, faster....

I think the army may sacrifice Mubarak in order to maintain their dominance of Egypt. This will be followed by significant political opening. I dont think there will be either an Islamist takeover or a total collapse. But if they rely only on tanks and dont sacrifice Mubarak soon, then things will go from bad to worse…

An excellent essay from last year by Adam Shatz (via 3QD):

It gives the whole modern history of Egypt and adds considerably to the background knowledge of what the Egyptian political situation was like prior to the protests. Now we can out-pundit the talking heads on TV.

Abbas at 3QD has also posted this poem by Constantine Cavafy, an Alexandrian from another era.

I think that the ruling elite will survive, but may have to sacrifice the crook Mubarak and send him to retirement in Jeddah if things get out of hand. Then they will ban alcohol on Fridays or do some other bullshit like that to keep the mullahs happy and meanwhile they will ask America for more money in order to keep the poor people in check. This method of selling nuisance value has been perfected in Pakistan and it will work till the USA runs out of money and decides to give up being worldcop and Israel's enforcer in the Middle East…

This method of selling nuisance value has been perfected in Pakistan and it will work till the USA runs out of money and decides to give up being worldcop and Israel's enforcer in the Middle East…

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