WikiLeaks Reveals Nothing Unforeseen in Egypt’s Tough Grip
Despite there being nothing unforeseen in the WikiLeaks revelations or in the reports about the Middle Eastern regimes’ conduct in their election campaigns, they do, however, highlight the struggle between the people and their respective regimes. The WikiLeaks documents reveal the unsurprising determination of regimes in the Middle East – namely Egypt and Jordan – to fight for their survival.
With regards to Egypt it appears that the regime has made a vow that it would not bow to US pressures as it did in the 2005 parliamentary elections, which were – despite some irregularities – relatively free. The polls then resulted in the MB securing an unprecedented 88 seats out of the 454 available seats on account of judicial supervision and monitoring.
With the outcome of Egypt’s recent elections it seems the ruling regime applied the lessons it learned, and took a tough stance toward opposition candidates who did not come from the ruling parties. The determination of the ruling authorities and the fact that the Obama administration did not follow the 2005 US administration’s pressure, contributed to the end result with the administration in Washington less concerned about reform than it is about the question of Egypt’s successor.
Not only was the political opposition, namely the MB, prohibited from appearing on a list of its own since they are regarded as ‘outlawed’ despite their popularity, the Egyptian authorities were intent on making things even more difficult for the movement’s candidates who ran as independents. During the past three months, and in the run up to elections, the group has been the victim of arbitrary arrests where close to 1800 members were detained with reports in the international media of hundreds of arrests and dozens of candidates being disqualified. Hence, it is not surprising that not one MB candidate won any seats outright in the first round; which in turn prompted the group to boycott the second runoff despite 27 MB candidates being allegeable to expose the regime’s arrogant rigging. In fact, the MB has officially announced that in the new 2010-2015 parliament it has zero representatives.
President Obama and Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, did, however, question the way Mubarak’s government dealt with the elections, but only behind closed doors. Only after protests in the US and Europe did the State Department issue a rather lame statement expressing concern and disappointment at the harassment of oppositionists and their supporters; nothing more than a simple rebuke. The Egyptian presidential spokesman rejected both the American criticism as well as the State Department report issued last month on the freedom of religion in Egypt, thereby hushing the Americans who will not question the overall legitimacy of the election.
Although the Egyptian regime claims to tolerate quiet public discourse concerning the issue of presidential succession there is no doubt that with its monopolization of the parliament, where it secured over 96% of the seats, it has tightened its grip on the legislation to ensure a peaceful transition to power as hassle-free and as smooth as possible.