Eric Trager

Egypt's Invisible Insurgency

Young Islamists are using Facebook to organize violent opposition

After Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s ouster last summer, analysts warned that a disempowered Muslim Brotherhood might embrace jihad. Toppling an elected Islamist government, some argued, would lead the Brotherhood to abandon the democratic procedures that it accepted only belatedly, and advance its theocratic vision through al-Qaeda-like terrorism instead. Nearly eight months later, however, these expectations haven’t materialized.

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Egypt's Heroic Protesters Bear Responsibility for the Mess that Followed

The incoherence of Tahrir Square's activists

A new movie might win an Oscar for celebrating Egypt's new "culture of protest." Too bad that culture is so incoherent.

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Hussein Morsi: My Brother's Presidency 'Was a Disaster'

But he hasn't given up hope on a Muslim Brotherhood resurgence

But he hasn't given up hope on a Muslim Brotherhood resurgence

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Alaa Al-Aswany is Egypt’s preeminent novelist. His 2002 best-seller The Yacoubian Building highlighted the political corruption, moral duplicity, and economic inequality of contemporary Egypt, and established him as one of the most influential critics of Hosni Mubarak’s regime.

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In a certain sense, the Obama administration’s decision to withhold much of the $1.3 billion in annual aid given to Egypt isn’t surprising. U.S. law mandates cutting off aid to countries in which a coup has taken place, and the Egyptian military’s ouster of President Mohamed Morsi this summer was, analytically speaking, exactly that.

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In the 16 months after Hosni Mubarak’s dramatic February 2011 ouster, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood quickly rose from the cave to the castle, winning the parliamentary and presidential elections, and then appointing its members to executive positions across the Egyptian government. But 15 months and an uprising-cum-coup later, even the Brotherhood’s former caves are off-limits to it.

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Last week, Egypt’s military-backed government continued its decapitation of the Muslim Brotherhood, arresting four top officials. These included three members of the Brotherhood’s 17-member executive Guidance Office, as well as an official in the Brotherhood’s Cairo office.

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The Islamic Insurgency That Could Soon Hit Egypt

The danger in destroying the Muslim Brotherhood's leadership

Shortly after the uprising-cum-coup that toppled Mohamed Morsi on July 3, I asked an Egyptian military official why the generals removed Morsi after only four days of protests when they had waited 18 days to remove Hosni Mubarak in 2011. “The previous military leadership was reactive,” he replied, referring to the junta that ruled Egypt for the 16 months following Mubarak’s ouster. “But this leadership wanted to be proactive.”

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It seems illogical that mass protests should force an elected president from office, especially only a year into a four-year term. But democracy in Egypt, such that it exists, has not been institutionalized, in large part because President Mohamed Morsi failed to govern via consensus.

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