The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Egypt and Tunisia's unfinished revolutions

My column in Time magazine:

It's been just seven weeks since President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali fled Tunisia, and just over three weeks since Hosni Mubarak was unceremoniously dumped from the presidency by the Egyptian military — but both countries have already unseated their interim prime ministers. Egypt's Ahmed Shafiq on Wednesday followed last week's decision by Tunisia's Mohammed Ghannouchi to step down, heeding the will of those who had taken to the streets to oust the autocrats who had appointed them. The two countries have chosen different models for their transition to democracy: Tunisia has a civilian government supported by the military; in Egypt, a Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has taken charge and has suspended the constitution. But in both countries, the interim rulers face a crisis of legitimacy, with controversy surrounding some of the personalities now in charge and their transition plans contested by many of the same forces that took to the streets to demand political change. And at the same time, they must deal with the mountain of problems left behind by the dictators, from corruption and cronyism to collapsing state authority and anemic economic performance.

I suggest there are four key issues to bear in mind: 

  1. Winning the confidence of the street
  2. The media matters
  3. Islamists stand to gain, but so does the left
  4. There needs to be a balance between justice and economic recovery

Read the whole thing here.