Is Egypt going to make it? That’s a question we get all the time from outsiders—and from many Egyptians, too. Will Mohammed Morsi, the first Islamist president, turn Egypt into an Islamic state? An American pundit recently went so far as to suggest that the Morsi administration condones the destruction of the Pyramids of Giza—as called for by a handful ultra-conservative sheikhs who consider the 4,500-year-old pharaonic burial monuments to be symbols of paganism.
To play our part for a clearer understanding, this issue of the Cairo Review presents Special Report: Egypt Today and Tomorrow. Perhaps Arab League Secretary General Nabil Elaraby sets a wisely cautious tone with his comment, “I don’t have a crystal ball,” in response to a question about the Arab Spring in The Cairo Review Interview. What is clear from the thirty-five essays and articles in this issue is that assessments of change in the Middle East cannot be reduced to simplistic judgments.
In his essay on Egypt’s new president, Shadi Hamid says that the Muslim Brotherhood will have to perform a balancing act in the struggle for political supremacy. Author Zeinab Abul-Magd believes that the Brotherhood and the military are effectively joined in a “marriage of convenience” for the foreseeable future. Tarek Osman argues that the January 25 revolution produced an unstoppable, youth-led wave of energy for a more open and efficient political system. Nabil Fahmy, a former Egyptian ambassador to the United States, presents a blueprint for a foreign policy aimed at regaining Egypt’s place in the world.
We are extremely indebted to all our writers, who include several professors and students on our own campus. For their special contributions and support, I would like to extend my deep appreciation to former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Brundtland, Nobel laureate Ahmed Zewail, PIMCO Chief Executive Officer Mohamed A. El-Erian, novelist Ahdaf Soueif, and former Le Monde journalist Éric Rouleau.
I hope that our Special Report provides you with a richer appreciation of the complex political, economic, and social changes taking place in Egypt. I’ll go out on a limb and make one prediction about Egypt’s future: notwithstanding the bombast of a few fiery preachers and the gullible foreigners who take them too seriously, the Pyramids of Giza are going to be around for quite awhile.