Hanging out at the Vienna transit lounge in Austria. Trying to get a nuanced opinion on anything in politics and geo-politics nowadays in near to impossible. But Thomas Barnett is always a source of refreshing analysis. He also share my view that the coming "Chinese Century" is hype and will be foiled by far too many macro-problems that will stunt its growth relatively soon. Here he is on the new factions erupting within the Muslim Brotherhood. Solid, reasonable analysis: Thomas Barnett:
This is pretty much how I always expect it to go in these situations: the long-oppressed opposition party finally has its chance at the brass ring and - booyah! - it starts fracturing over how to do it. This is usually how the single party - realized or just self-actualizing - falls apart. It's how I would see the Cuban Communist Party falling apart after the Castros depart. ["Falling apart" here also meaning birthing new parties.]
WSJ story on leader of one of the more moderate factions within the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood deciding to break from the party and declare his own presidential campaign. "More moderate" is defined as:
. . . a positive relationship with the West, more rights for women and religious minorities, and democratic reform within the party's top-down leadership structure.
But here's the real rub: Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh and his faction believe the MB must split into two groups -a political party and a religious organization with attendant charities.
Since Dr. Fotouh, 59 years old, is effectively breaking the MB's promise not to field a candidate, many in the group are calling for him to resign because the group won't support his candidacy.
Despite the fears triggered by his announcement, I think this is a good thing. If we want the Nelson Mandela-like figure, he will necessarily be of the group and simultaneously above the group. The MB is the most organized party, so it's not odd that compelling figures will arise from it, but they need to do so as Fotouh seems to be doing, by forging a special, above-it-all path.
Obviously, a very early reading, but that's my suspicion. The MB was the ONLY party to turn to - in opposition - under Mubarak, but now that he's gone, factions not only emerge but they break off and form new parties.
But no, I don't expect Egypt to pick some perfectly secularly leader. I think that's unrealistic and - in some way - unwise. But they do need the above-the-party-type figure, and maybe this guy is it.
Yes, I know I will be immediately bombarded by THE quote or action from Fotouh's past, but none of that will impress me. The only thing that will count is what he does now. Mandela was a figurehead for a Soviet-sponsored national liberation movement in my PhD diss - totally on the OTHER side. Then the ANC got its chance, and Mandela made the most of it, and South Africa is South Africa today and Mandela is a near saint.
If you want the Egyptian Mandela, this IS the most logical source-path.