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Egypt's Political System between Military Guardianship and Democratic Procedures

11/03/2014, Rome

"The post- Mubarak Egypt is like a state with other states inside: all those powers such as the armed forces, the justice and the security systems and the religious structures, controlled by Al- Azhar – the most important Sunni Islam authority – all with their strong autonomy." This was the main point made by Nathan Brown, expert in Egyptian politics and professor of political science at George Washington University, during the conference entitled " Egypt 's Political System between Military Guardianship and Democratic Procedures". The conference was promoted by IAI in collaboration with Monte dei Paschi di Siena, and was attended by Lapo Pistelli, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The central theme of the debate was the difficult period that Egypt is going through: the birth of a new "unconstitutional constitution", the solitary race for the presidency, with General Al- Sisi ready to run without any opponents: "If you ask me to describe current Egyptian politics,” explained Nathan Brown, “ I would like to answer with a metaphor very much in use in British politics, because now there is no policy in Egypt. The Egyptian parliament is better described as a parliament of ‘cats, individualists’ rather than ‘dogs, capable of forming a team’, and the weakness of the system is also that the number of politicians who can credibly challenge Al- Sisi is very close to zero."

Brown describes Egypt as a “big and very complicated country with its very deep sort of domestic political divisions. Now international actors are not going to be able to dictate the questions of Egyptian politics. The most they can do is to communicate to the Egyptian leadership that if they really want to be seen as a responsible leadership they have to maintain a dialogue focused on safety, a democratic future for the country, and respect for human rights. But this is a long-term prospective because now Egypt is focused on its internal political problems”, such as the Brotherhood , and the search for a strong leader. But once it solves its problems at home, Egypt could probably resume a constructive dialogue with the rest of the world.

“And this is what we hope,” said Lapo Pistelli, "Italy and the European Union are following all Middle Eastern issues closely: the conflict between Israel and Palestine, the Iranian nuclear issue and the humanitarian crisis in Syria. It is our common purpose to support and encourage the democratic transition of many of those Middle Eastern countries that promoted the "Arab Spring", with a long-term strategy focused on "dialogue", especially in those situations of major crisis, such as Egypt and Libya".

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