The young men and women who took over Cairo’s Tahrir Square in late-January electrified the Arab world with their calls for building a new Middle East. When their peaceful protests subsequently toppled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, they took the first step toward moving their country from decades of autocratic rule into a future of democracy. Six weeks into that future, the forces of liberal democracy have suffered their first major defeat. On Saturday, Egyptians by the millions went to the polls to cast their vote on proposed changes to the constitution. The progressive leaders of the uprising struggled to get […]

History demonstrates that revolutions often result in new or renewed forms of despotism. One reason for caution regarding the future of the Arab Uprising is that few Middle Eastern countries have political pasts not dominated by monarchy, theocracy or the military. So previous rebellions ultimately enhanced rather than mitigated socio-political intolerance. After all, Iran’s activist mullahs and al-Qaida’s founders were the products of rebellions against monarchist totalitarianism, too. It remains to be seen whether Egypt will become more democratic or return to military rule, or if the turbulence of the post-Mubarak period will open the door for the Muslim Brotherhood […]

It has become conventional wisdom among U.S. and European policymakers that the Muslim Brotherhood, with its superior organizational structure, will dominate any quickly held election in a post-Mubarak Egypt. Invariably, observations to this effect are followed by warnings about the movement’s beliefs and its questionable commitment to democracy. Those warnings took on ominous overtones when the Brotherhood announced Feb. 21 that it will establish the Freedom and Justice Party to participate in future elections. Many of the Muslim Brotherhood’s policy positions are indeed odious to Western sensibilities. In a democratic Egypt, however, the Brotherhood’s ideas may garner popular appeal. The […]