Sunday, November 20, 2011

Libya, Egypt and Syria all face an uncertain future

The Arab uprisings are still unfolding and no one can predict how each country's story will end

Ian Black, Middle East editor, Sunday 20 November 2011

"...Egypt has been the most important chapter from the start because of its sheer size and influence, so state repression and anger at the generals who have ruled since Hosni Mubarak's overthrow are deeply worrying for those still nurturing the hopes born in Tahrir Square in January.

The prospects for the parliamentary elections, which are due to start next week, are unclear, although critics argue that they will be meaningless unless the military sets a date for handing over power to civilians. Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, hailed for persuading Mubarak to go, is under mounting pressure to step down himself.

Old habits die hard: instead of repealing Egypt's hated emergency law, the generals have extended it, while protecting their own privileges. Increasingly, analysts warn, it looks like a stark choice between the army and the Muslim Brotherhood, still the only really organised political force....

If Arab and international attention is focusing again on Egypt, events in Syria have taken on a riveting dynamic of their own. A rocket attack on an office of the ruling Ba'ath party in Damascus was further evidence of the growing capability of armed rebels to challenge President Bashar al-Assad.....

Preoccupied as he must be, Syria's president cannot have missed the capture of Muammar Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam and the brouhaha about whether he will be tried in Tripoli or at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. But legal questions apart, Saif al-Islam's re-appearance will be a sobering reminder of the altogether more brutal end met by his father in Sirte last month – a fate that could await Assad and his family if there is not a swift political turn to the Syrian crisis....."

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