News / Middle East

    Egyptians Ponder if 2011 Offers Chance for Change

    Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak (file photo)
    Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak (file photo)

    Multimedia

    Egypt is set to hold presidential elections toward the end of 2011, but so far no one has officially entered the race.  Aides say President Hosni Mubarak will seek a sixth six-year term, but the spotlight is also on his son, Gamal, a rising star in the ruling National Democratic Party widely seen as being groomed for the post.   

    Elections for Egypt's parliament in 2010 have left many here with a profound sense that the National Democratic Party is here to stay, no matter what.   After voting roundly condemned by human rights and electoral groups as riddled with fraud, the outcome has left the NDP with almost complete legislative control, a power critical to setting the terms of the presidential race.  

    Speculation is strong that President Mubarak, 82, and with health problems, may be preparing the way for son Gamal, a 47-year-old former London investment banker, to come to power.   On the streets, such a scenario is ridiculed as "hereditary democracy," the kind perceived in such nearby states as Syria, where President Bashar al Assad came to power after the death of his father.

    But the dynamics may be different in Egypt.  Media publisher Hisham Kassem says the military and security backbone of the state is committed to a system, not a family or clan, particularly not to the man Kassem refers to by his Westernized nickname.   

    "If anybody thinks the generals, once Mubarak senior is gone, the generals are going to sit there and smile and, you know, let little Jimmy become the next president, this is really unrealistic," said Kassem.

    Kassem is among those who believe any succession to President Mubarak could be by another general, most likely General Omar Suleiman, Egypt's director of intelligence.  Suleiman, who heads one of the more pervasive security services in the Arab world, is also known for his diplomatic efforts including, so far in vain, to reconcile the bitterly split Palestinians.

    Another possible contender is opposition figure and former U.N. nuclear chief Mohamed elBaradei.  The co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize has said he will run if the constitution is amended - an unlikely scenario given the domination of the NDP.   

    Even elBaradei's plan to collect signatures from the public to demand change could prove daunting, in part because they can be ignored if not backed up by public demonstrations, a challenge under Egypt's strict security laws and their consequences.  

    "The biggest demonstration now in Egypt doesn't exceed 3000 people," said Kassem..  So, it's not the street with him.  They are collecting signatures.  Collecting signatures is one thing, and getting people to go out on the street is another.  The bulk of people who are signing will not go out in a demo."

    A question being asked repeatedly among opposition movements is what, if any, is the tipping point for a real change in government, away from the one they argue has led the region's once-major power into stagnancy.

    Independent political activist Ahmed Salah is among those who believe the situation is not as stable as many in the West believe, but says grass roots political change is still a long way off.  

    "Everything is deteriorating constantly and people are building more and more pressure that would come out in waves of violence, that would be sectarian, or football, because people do not put this violence yet in something political because they are under a combination of despair and fear," said Salah. "They are so afraid because they do anything political they go to hell."

    That hell, for Salah and thousands of others of opposition figures, is the well-documented abuses suffered by those detained in Egypt's prison system.

    For others, like publisher Kassem, the tipping point would be the government's mishandling of a massive natural disaster or an economic meltdown.   But short of that, he thinks the chances are good that whoever is in power at the end of 2011, the situation in Egypt will likely remain very much the same.

    NEW: Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
    and discuss them on our Facebook page.

    You May Like

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora