The election is called, 51.7% in favor of Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate over Ahmed Shafik, a former Mubarak general with 48.3%. How much power the office of the president will have, and how much the Army allows it to have will be hashed out in the coming months and years, with a lot of tension and mistrust. It remains to be seen how flexible either side will be.
In Egypt, there is grinding poverty, and many people have lived under an Army controlled State bureaucracy, with entrenched interests dependent on foreign aid and running high levels of corruption, for generations. The Mubarak regime ran this bureaucracy often brutally (especially in its prisons), and mostly succeeded in preventing the formation of many competing interests and forms of political organization. It is still strongly entrenched.
The Muslim Brotherhood is the next best well-organized entity in Egypt, and its connections are deep across the region. The Brotherhood is increasingly capable of playing a longer game, and some of those connections should be worrying to Western interests, especially regarding the Israelis, the Suez canal, and where Brotherhood leaders can reasonably be expected to be in front of their people, especially given the sticking point of Palestine. It should be noted however, that by accounts, they have fairly won the election.
Here’s a quote from Henry Kissinger during the Cold War years. (I should point out that his analysis is aimed more specifically, but not exclusively, at Communist revolutions, emerging from Marxist/Communist doctrine and their assumed certainty of historical and dialectical progress. It assumes the ideological revolutionaries are the ones creating the bureaucratic structures. In Egypt at the moment, the bureaucracy may be seen by some as an enemy rather than a prize):
‘But once a revolution becomes institutionalized, the administrative structures which it has spawned develop their own vested interests. Ideology may grown less significant in creating commitment; it becomes pervasive in supplying criteria of administrative choice. Ideologies prevail by being taken for granted.’
One likely U.S. response is to maintain aid to Egypt, in order to maintain stability of the bureaucratic structure and encourage as gradual a transition with as little true revolution as possible if it is to be the Brotherhood gaining increasing control, while watching events closely.
There are other interests in Egypt, of course, a smaller, educated, wealthier class that drove much of the change, but they will not necessarily have the ideological unity, political support nor organization capable of meeting many of the people and energies that have been unleashed (nor perhaps, before they were unleashed). A Western-style, Western hoped-for democratic revolution was not/is not likely given the conditions on the ground in Egypt. In the next U.S. elections, there is possibility of a backlash against a more liberal internationalist foreign policy doctrine.
*Kissinger, Henry. American Foreign Policy: Three Essays. New York: W.W. Norton & Company Inc. 1969.
Addition: Walter Russell Mead says the Army and the establishment have nearly total control over the process.
Michael Totten pretty much agrees.
Related On This Site: Adam Garfinkle At The American Interest on Egypt: ‘Still More of the Same—and Something New’…