May 23, 2012 | 1:33 am
The Associated Press looks at some of the future implications of the Egyptian presidential elections.
Many of the candidates in the race have called for amendments in Egypt’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel, which remains deeply unpopular. None is likely to dump it, but a victory by any of the Islamist or leftist candidates in the race could mean strained ties with Israel and a stronger stance in support of the Palestinians in the peace process. Shafiq and Moussa, and ironically the Brotherhood, are most likely to maintain the alliance with Washington.
Ian Black of the Guardian reports from Egypt as the polls open, and hears from Egyptians who are truly voting for a president for the first time in their lives.
Revolutionaries acknowledge frustration at the length and limitations of the transition while speaking of a new sense of dignity and pride. “Under Mubarak we felt unimportant,” mused a software engineer and [Hamdeen] Sabahy supporter, Yahya Ahmad. “Now we feel that we matter.” Some want to boycott the election on the grounds that there can be no free choice under military rule. Others are clear-eyed but optimistic. “It’s a moment when you believe that we are turning a page,” said the human rights activist Gassar Abdel-Razek.
Writing for Middle East Online, James Zogby speculates as to who will emerge victorious in an election in which there is no clear frontrunner.
[There is] a Salafi/liberal alliance supporting the candidacy of a moderate former Muslim Brotherhood leader, Abdul Moneim Aboul Fatouh who has since been denounced by the Brotherhood. The Brotherhood’s own candidate has so far fared poorly in the polls, since even some in his own party are concerned lest their group be seen as wanting too much power too soon. Secularists and liberals have at least three candidates in the running. Far and away the leader of this group appears to be the charismatic Amr Moussa. Also scoring fairly well in various polls are former Prime Minister-for-a-month Ahmad Shafiq and leader of the Kefaya movement, Hamdeen Sabahi.
As Egyptians go to the polls to vote for a new president, Digby Lidstone of Bloomberg presents a breakdown of who is running and what the electorate really cares about.
Security and the economy are the main issues dominating the political debate. The unrest of the past year has crippled tourism and foreign investment, two of the country’s main sources of revenue, while the country has endured the worst economic slowdown in a least a decade. International reserves have been reduced by more than a half. While Egypt is seeking a $3.2 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund as part of efforts to boost growth, talks with the fund have yet to conclude amid wrangling between the government and parliament.
John Leyne of the BBC takes a look at how some of Egypt’s presidential candidates have tried to woo women voters.
In the last week of campaigning, the moderate Islamist candidate Abdul Moneim Aboul Fotouh held a special rally for women, as he attempted to woo the women’s vote. Hundreds of women packed the audience, while on the stage, during a series of speeches and round tables by women, the only man to appear was the candidate himself. Abdul Moneim Aboul Fotouh is also unique in having a political adviser who is a woman. Rabab al-Mahdi is a liberal, a politics professor, who does not wear a headscarf.
Justin Logan of the National Interest explores whether the imminent talks in Baghdad on Iran’s nuclear program can really yield any new breakthroughs.
The United States is still threatening to bomb Iran in order to prevent it from developing a nuclear deterrent. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to define “success” in a way such that it cannot realistically be achieved and to warn that anything less than total Iranian capitulation is failure. Like-minded U.S. legislators, such as Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), agree that the only acceptable Iranian move is immediate surrender. And high-ranking Iranian military officials are declaring that Iran is “standing for its cause that is the full annihilation of Israel.”
The young generation of Iranians is hankering for a pre-revolutionary era that it never knew, writes Camelia Entekhabifard in the New York Times.
Today, life in the Islamic Republic is more difficult than it has been since the eight-year war with Iraq. International economic sanctions, the harshest since the 1979 revolution, have squeezed the struggling middle class even further. Ordinary Iranians live in constant fear that Israel — one of Tehran’s strongest political allies before 1979 — may soon decide to bomb them. So many of the country’s best and brightest students have left Iran to study abroad, and are certainly not willing to come back.
Even as the Israeli government moves toward drafting ultra-Orthodox men, some IDF officers are increasingly concerned about the growing influence of the Military Rabbinate, writes J.J. Rosenberg in the Forward.
Education Corps officers have complained to their superiors several times in recent years about rabbinic encroachment, but to little avail, the report says. Atop the command chain, the army’s deputy chief of staff and chief of personnel have studiously avoided taking sides. Whether because they dismiss the dispute as a petty turf battle or because they’re reluctant to confront the Orthodox lobby, they’ve ordered the squabbling units to work things out by themselves. After one blowup in 2009, a general appointed to mediate reported back that sides were divided by deep “ideological” differences that could only be resolved at the General Staff level. The senior command, however, has yet to address the issue, the comptroller reported.
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