Middle East expert says uncertainty ahead for


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12-02-2011 08:13 AM


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ABC Canberra 666


12-02-2011 08:13 AM



12-02-2011 08:48 AM

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2011-02-12 08:13:02

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JACKSON, Elizabeth


BROWN, Nathan


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Middle East expert says uncertainty ahead for -

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ELIZABETH JACKSON: Nathan Brown is a Professor of international affairs at Georgetown University in
the US.

He's written extensively about Egypt and the Middle East and he's been watching the events unfold

I spoke to Professor Brown just a short time ago and asked him what's likely to happen next.

NATHAN BROWN: Well that's the big question because nobody has said. Some foreign leaders have made
clear what they expect to happen and some of the demonstrators have made clear what they expect to
happen, but the military simply has not tipped their hand.

When vice president Omar Suleiman announced Mubarak's stepping down he simply said they will be
administering the affairs of the country, that's all that he said.

Now presumably there's going to be some kind of political reconstruction process but how inclusive
that's going to be, how drawn out that's going to be, who's going to be doing it and what they're
going to be doing - none of this is at all clear.

The opposition clearly want an inclusive and a fundamental reform, really a transition to a more
pluralist and democratic system but it's not clear if that's what the military has in mind or even
if it knows yet what it wants to do.

ELIZABETH JACKSON: And with the country's Supreme Military Council in charge, is Egypt necessarily
on the way to democracy?

NATHAN BROWN: Absolutely not. What we've seen so far is essentially a military coup, a military
coup that in response to public pressure has pushed the political leadership of the country aside.
But what they're going to do with that authority now that they have grasped it is unclear.

And the military thus far has been acting essentially to preserve public order but also a little
bit to harass demonstrators, try to cut them down to size a little bit. There are even reports that
some arrested them.

So it's not clear that they're all that friendly toward the idea of a democratic transition.

ELIZABETH JACKSON: What do we know of the Military Council and its agenda?

NATHAN BROWN: We don't know. I mean, we do know that this council is composed of the leaders of
the, of each of the armed forces. But the military in Egypt is a little bit of a society unto
itself. So these are not people with a large public profile or public face.

In addition it's not clear who is joining them, if anybody else is. Omar Suleiman's role - he is
the vice president, that's unclear. Is this group ruling a sort of presidency council or are they
still maintaining the fiction of a constitutional system, in which case the speaker of the
parliament or the president of the Constitutional Court would nominally serve as acting president.
That's not clear.

Are they going to appoint a Civilian Cabinet, and if so are they going to reach out to the
opposition. That's unclear.

ELIZABETH JACKSON: Now it seems unlikely that Hosni Mubarak left of his own volition. Do you think
he was given an ultimatum by the army?

NATHAN BROWN: Well it was clear there was steadily increasing pressure on him, internationally and
probably more importantly domestically and it was also clear that yesterday they had secured from
him an agreement to hand over power. But the announcement that they actually got was so, was worded
in such a patronising way and the bit about him handing over power to Omar Suleiman was tucked in
there with absolutely no elaboration. So most people actually missed it.

So what we see naturally, is clearly there's enormous pressure that was being brought to bear on
him, that brought him step by step, very reluctant, screaming all the way and very stubborn just to
release political authority.

Exactly who made this pressure, how it was done, we don't know that yet. But it's clear it was not
really all that voluntary.

ELIZABETH JACKSON: Nathan Brown a Professor of international affairs at Georgetown University in
the US.