Terrified of the secular/modern/liberal demonstrators who made their presence known in Tahrir Square, as well as of the soccer hooligans, Mohamed Tantawi and Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces have forged a mutually beneficial relationship with the country’s Islamists, thereby blocking their joint opponents from power. Very clever — but maybe too clever by half. Here’s why:
In Egypt, which imports more than half its caloric intake, wages must keep up with the price of food or people begin to starve. Yet the country appears to be heading for a monumental financial collapse in 2012, and perhaps by the summer. If Islamists strut about as though they rule Egypt, the population will blame them and their SCAF allies – not the Tahriris – for its hunger. The anger could quickly turn ferocious. After waiting 84 years to attain legitimacy and power, the Muslim Brotherhood may find it got suckered into taking over the ship’s help just as it heads into an iceberg.
1. A joke circulating during Hosni Mubarak’s reign (“Why hasn’t Mubarak appointed a vice president?” “Because he can’t find anyone dumber than he is”) appears to be wrong. Tantawi is even more incompetent than Mubarak.
2. Military dictatorship, which has been firmly in control of Egypt since 1952, has so badly run the country into the ground that its rule finally appears to be in jeopardy.