Behind the Ballot Box

Electoral Engineering in the Arab World

by Marsha Pripstein Posusney
published in MER209

The last decade has seen multi-party competition for elected legislatures initiated or expanded in Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, Kuwait, Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority. Executive authority in most cases remains an uncontested, if not completely unelected, post. Nevertheless, incumbent rulers invariably tout these legislative elections as evidence of domestic legitimacy, often anointing their countries as “on the road to democracy” in their wake.

Revolution and Counter-Revolution in the Egyptian Media

by Ursula Lindsey | published February 15, 2011

It took 18 days of mass mobilization, the deaths of hundreds and the wounding of thousands, the crippling of Egypt’s tourism industry and the crash of its stock market, to bring an end to the 30-year presidency of Husni Mubarak. And almost every minute of the revolution was televised.

Egyptian Privatization

New Challenges for the Left

by Marsha Pripstein Posusney
published in MER210

After decades of delay, privatization in Egypt is now taking off. [1] Since 1993, 119 of 314 state-owned enterprises (SOEs) have been fully or partially sold. [2] These have been mainly manufacturing ventures, but the government has also pledged to offer utilities, public sector banks and insurance companies, maritime and telecommunications firms and leading tourist hotels. In May 1998, the International Monetary Fund, long skeptical of the Mubarak regime’s commitment to privatization, pronounced itself satisfied with the program’s progress. Measured in terms of annual privatization receipts as a percentage of GDP, their report noted that Egypt ranks fourth internationally, trailing only Hungary, Malaysia and the Czech Republic.

Red-White-and-Black Valentine

by The Editors | published February 14, 2011

There are moments in world affairs that call for the suspension of disbelief. At these junctures, caution ought to be suppressed and cynicism forgotten to let joy and wonderment resound. Across the globe, everyone, at least everyone with a heart, knows that the Egyptian revolution of 2011 is such a time.

How Tunisia, Morocco, Jordan and Even Egypt Became IMF "Success Stories" in the 1990s

by Karen Pfeifer
published in MER210

Just as European missionaries were the spiritual handmaidens of nineteenth-century colonialism, so has the International Monetary Fund (IMF) assumed a modern-day mission in support of world trade, finance and investment. The mission aims to convert the benighted heathen in developing countries to the enlightened religion of the free market, whose invisible hand guides self-interest toward the best possible outcome. Once expected to join world Christendom after their conversion, penitent countries today have structural adjustment programs (SAPs) to guide them to their place in the global economy.

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No More Mr. Nice Autocracy

by Chris Toensing | published February 7, 2011

Egyptian current events prove one point for good: Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, US presidents wish their favored Arab states would forever remain nice, docile autocracies.

Of course, the Obama administration protests loudly to the contrary. President Barack Obama has gone on national television twice during Egypt’s amazingly courageous popular uprising to profess his admiration for the pro-democracy protesters in the streets. He praised their stand for “universal” human rights. Addressing them directly, he expressed his “unyielding belief that you will determine your own destiny and seize the promise of a better future for your children and your grandchildren.”

Dreamland: The Neoliberalism of Your Desires

by Timothy Mitchell
published in MER210

Neoliberalism is a triumph of the political imagination. Its achievement is double: While narrowing the window of political debate, it promises from this window a prospect without limits. On the one hand, it frames public discussion in the elliptic language of neoclassical economics. The collective well-being of the nation is depicted only in terms of how it is adjusted in gross to the discipline of monetary and fiscal balance sheets. On the other, neglecting the actual concerns of any concrete local or collective community, neoliberalism encourages the most exuberant dreams of private accumulation -- and a chaotic reallocation of collective resources.

The Fake Moderation of America's Moderate Middle East Allies

by Aslı Bâli , Aziz Rana | published February 4, 2011

As the Mubarak regime turns to violence in a vain attempt to repress the peaceful protests that have swept Egypt’s streets for over ten days, the risks associated with current US strategy for Egypt and the wider region continue to grow. In its response to the events, the Obama administration has subtly shifted its message, incrementally increasing pressure on the regime over the last week. But the more important story is the remarkable continuities reflected in the administration’s approach.

Into Egypt's Uncharted Territory

by Hesham Sallam , Joshua Stacher , Chris Toensing | published February 1, 2011

Amidst the monumental Egyptian popular uprising of 2011, Plan A for the Egyptian regime and the Obama administration was for Husni Mubarak to remain president of Egypt indefinitely. They have now moved on to Plan B.

Dead-Enders on the Potomac

by The Editors | published January 29, 2011

Every US administration has its mouthpiece in Washington’s think tank world, its courtier that will slavishly praise its every utterance. For the blessedly bygone Bush administration, that echo chamber was the American Enterprise Institute and the neo-conservative broadsheets in its orbit. For the Obama administration, it is the National Security Network, an operation founded in 2006 to bring “strategic focus to the progressive national security community.”