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Good reading in International Security journal

By Diane J. McCree Managing Editor, International Security In the lead article of the 2010/11 winter issue of International Security, America’s premier journal on security issues, David Lake examines explanations for the outbreak of the 2003 Iraq War, one of … Continue reading >

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The Power of the Ikhwan

Sitting on the sidelines as students and workers poured into Tahrir Square for the initial demonstrations that ultimately brought down Hosni Mubarak were the well organized cells of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, known in Arabic as the brothers, or the Ikhwan. Their leadership decided to hold back and see what developed in the protests. Why?

Among the many reasons considered by the Ikhwan leaders was probably the simple fact that the protesters in the square were not their people.  Many of the protesters were secular democrats, some were even Coptic Christians. A large number were women. The Ikhwan has always stood for an Islamic religious state, where the government would enforce strict interpretations of Islamic law, not a place for secularists, Christians, or activist women. For decades their view of democracy had been as one possible means to gain power, but in the sense that the Algerian Islamists viewed elections: “one man, one vote, one time.”

When it was clear, however, that the Egyptian movement was powerful and might succeed, the Ikhwan joined in. They were invited to the table to negotiate with Mubarak’s Vice President. After Mubarak fell, they were invited to appoint a representative on the new committee to recommend constitutional change.
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Inshallah, Cairo will be more like Ankara than Tehran

A Power & Policy Guest View

By Joshua W. Walker

As a longtime ally of the West and new partner of Iran and Syria, Turkey has been seeking the role of mediator and model in every available arena, including Egypt, Lebanon, and Tunisia. As a G-20 founding member, holder of a seat on the UN Security Council, European Union aspirant, and head of the Organization of Islamic Conference, Ankara has transformed itself into an international actor, capable of bringing considerable clout and influence to its regions. Often lost in the debates about Turkey and its potential as a model is the fact that Ankara did not transform itself overnight from a defeated post-Ottoman state led by Ataturk’s military to a flourishing market-democracy led by a conservative Muslim party. It has been almost a century in the making.

Given the recent events in Egypt, the role of the Turkish military and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) led by Prime Minister Erdoğan has garnered many comparisons to the Egyptian army and the Muslim Brotherhood. Egypt and Turkey’s official aspirations—modernity and secularism—are remarkably undefined, though officially upheld and enforced by the military institutions as pillars of the grand idea of these nations themselves.  Apart from generic rhetoric, there has been little refined thinking by most analysts about the substance of these terms or about the relationship between society and the political elite in Egypt for the last thirty years given the lack of civilian empowerment, while Turkey has been struggling with civil-military tensions since the arrival of the AKP.
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Religious actors can be democratizers

With news of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepping down, the key question becomes “who will govern Egypt?” Although Mubarak has handed power over to the military, there is still the possibility that other actors, including the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), could … Continue reading >

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