Each modern government sponsors, and even engages, various types of expert bodies to analyse and assess different issues relevant to national security and socio-political interests. Those bodies are referred to as “Think Tanks”. They are very important for any administration, and their thesis are of vital necessity to the Button Rooms of any modern presidency.
Here is one of hundreds of such organs: ‘GLORIA’ the acronym for “Global Research for International Affairs”, a recognized panel of experts* holding seminars and meetings to funnel opinions into the Decision Making Centers in USA and Israel with regard to various issues of mutual interest to both countries.
On April 6, 2006, the U.S. Department of State's International Information Programs in Washington D.C., the Public Affairs Office at the U.S. Embassy in Israel, and the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center jointly held an international videoconference seminar focusing on the current political and economic state of Egypt, the regime and opposition, and Egyptian foreign policy; setting emphasis on the recent legislation elections’ results giving the Muslim Brotherhood 70 seats in Parliament.
Today, I have chosen for you some meaningful excerpts from that debate, that I have no intention to comment as I think they are sufficiently self explanatory needing no further in depth analysis.. However, you can comment yourself.
Ambassador Edward S. Walker, Jr.:
Absolutely critical here is the fact that there is such a large base of constituents for Mubarak and for the status quo that will resist change. the entire military and security structure could easily lose its privileges, its special treatment, its informal retirement benefits, and so on with a genuine democratic government and political reform.
There is also a huge bureaucracy which does not want to see major changes. In fact, they are happy to go along as they have been for the last 25 or 30 years. There are also many workers for state companies who would feel that change threatens them. I think the vast majority of people, particularly the ones that the government can round up to go to the polls, still will resist any significant democratic change in that country, and I think we're going to see a continuation of the status quo for some time to come.
the real problem of Egypt right now is the gap between the lack of government reforms after the elections and growing support for the reformers. In the economy there is a huge and growing gap between the haves and the have-nots
Ambassador Edward S. Walker, Jr.:
Egyptians spoke of their intensifying frustration about the deterioration of their standard of living and quality of life, A second point is there are growing sectarian tensions
Prof. Barry Rubin:
Egypt will have economic reforms but no political change.
Dr. Israel Elad-Altman:
The Muslim Brotherhood tends to accommodate as many views as possible in order to widen its public appeal. But if al-Azhar radicalizes, and the movement is attacked from the right--from al- Qa'ida and similar trends--on the ground that it is too moderate, cooperating too much with the authorities--it could be constrained to adopt more radical positions. So if the economic situation is not improving, and if the religious milieu continues to radicalize, then the Brotherhood could be more radical than it is now.
The Brotherhood is a very hierarchal organization, and it has a state-like structure, in which the older generation represents the traditional approach of focusing on da'wa and on proselytizing, and is reserved about attacking the regime, collaborating with other parties, etc.
the second generation much more willing to say, "We are already beyond the stage of da'wa, we are already in the stage of politics, we should move and start cooperating with other parties, we should attack the regime on special issues." An outspoken figure in the "second generation" group of leaders is Abd al-Mun'im Abu al-Futuh. He is the one who a year ago organized the Brotherhood's alliance with other opposition groups to boycott the presidential elections. Eventually what happened was that the regime arrested 3,000 members. The deal was that if the government released the members, the Brotherhood would not boycott the elections. This is what eventually happened.
One of the more interesting developments in Egypt are these new non-Islamist, I would even say to a certain extent liberal, media outlets--al-Masry al-Yowm being the most interesting. These reach only a very small elite audience, but that audience is growing, and they are a very new platform that didn't exist before for expressing critiques of the status quo, The second is the judges, the so-called judicial independence movement. They did not succeed in convincing the regime to agree to their demands for the elections and they have not yet achieved a new judicial independence law. But what they have been able to do is begin to link long-standing demands for reforms within the judiciary with a broader political agenda shared by many people within the Brotherhood and other opposition groups as well as among civil society.
They have a constituency within the judiciary, support of different opposition groups within Egypt, and the sympathy of the public. They have passive support, but can they actually turn themselves into a political force?
The legal or "secular" opposition parties are a product of the environment in which they exist. The fact that they have existed in a very repressive environment for a long time has absolutely affected their internal organizational structure in a very negative way. It has made their leadership often more interested in maintaining good relations with the regime, receiving favors and patronage from it, and manipulating their position for their own benefit, than with building their party as a true opposition force. These are not real political parties in the sense that they exist in democracies. They serve a different purpose.
Dr. Israel Elad-Altman:
About the parties, one shouldn't be mistaken, the significance of the small civilian secular parties is not in how many supporters they have, or organizational branches, but in their "soft power" outside Egypt, because what plays in Egyptian politics is not only Egyptian parties, but the outside constituencies, the Washington constituency, for example.
The concept of focusing on enabling or empowering the Islamists to take power is not going to solve the problems very soon, and there is a need to solve problems such as the economic and gap problem very soon. Maybe the direction should be to try to explain to the new economic leadership, the people around Gamal, all of his ministers trained in America, that there should be a better way to spread wealth, to let wealth filter
much wider and much lower than so far. Privatization does not create many more new businesses; it creates a very small number of huge businesses.
This is going to bring more advantages than waiting for the Islamists to take over and for them to decide which way they are going to go.
Edward S. Walker, Jr.:
If we are looking at Egyptian foreign policy, it seems to me that they have two primary focuses, quite different, and in some ways contrary to one another. The first focus is the United States. The Egyptian economy, Egyptian military assistance--the long-term relationship with the United States is very important to the leadership, important to Mubarak, very important to the military.
The second is that Egypt is expected to be a leader in the Arab and non-aligned worlds. People's memories go back to the Nasser period.
The third is that they are going to be careful about how they manage the Palestinian issue, because it is a very popular issue in Egypt. However, the U.S. military is a major advocate for Egypt because of its importance for our logistic supply line to the Gulf, Iraq, and so on.
So I think we are going to see a continuation of this kind of pulling and tugging with the United States, frustration on both sides with each other's behavior, but a marriage which neither can afford, at this point in history, to break, because we both gain from that marriage.
I think we really need serious rethinking of our view of Egypt in foreign policy. I have to say that in real terms I think that the U.S. angle is more important than the Arab leadership angle.
role in the Arab world and region is in deep decline. Moreover, the next leader is going to be someone with less international experience and Arab world presence. So Egypt may want to keep the United States happy but it does so by rendering lip service on several issues while showing its domestic audience that it is standing up to America and even using anti-Americanism to mobilize support for itself.
What is the Egyptian role on Iraq? Virtually nothing. What is the Egyptian position on Iran? It is of no real importance. What is the Egyptian position in having any real influence on Syria, on Lebanon, on the Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon, the Egyptian relationship with Saudi Arabia, and even on the Palestinians? These are things which aren't really very important and don't have much effect on events, although the image of Egypt as Arab leader may still exist. We have to pull ourselves out of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, and say things are very different. We know Egyptian ambitions are less; the Egyptians are a bit fed up with what they feel to be other Arabs' ingratitude. They may want to think of themselves as Arab leaders but they are not ready to pay a real price for such a status.
Egypt has a generally good relationship with the United States and gets benefits from that relationship. The regime blames all its shortcomings on imperialism, Zionism, the West, and the United States and uses that to build domestic support. Egyptian textbooks still claim that the American Air Force attacked Egypt in 1967. Egypt plays this game very well. They really get away with it with virtually no cost in terms of U.S. or Western relations and to a large extent—not completely--their audience still accepts it. It is a brilliant, well- handled maneuver. But in practical terms, therefore in policy in the Middle East is just not very important, it is not going to have a big impact.
If we look at the Palestinian issue, We will continue to read articles about Egypt attempting to influence Hamas, work out a ceasefire, but in practical terms I think the Egyptian role is pretty close to zero.
Obviously domestic and economic issues, internal stability, dealing with the opposition, dealing with the United States, these are all the issues that occupy Egyptian leaders and I think this is even going to be truer in the future. So whatever pretense is going on, let us see that as a secondary and not as main substance.
Just two considerations to ponder about:
1. It took place almost five years before the January 25th 2011 revolution, and
2. Five out of six participants are Jews.
Pass On The Word.