The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

The NDP shuffle

This morning I was on BBC Radio 4's Today show. The guest ahead of me was Dr. Ibrahim Kamel, CEO of Kato, member of the NDP's Politburo and one of Gamal Mubarak's most ardent and vocal backer until two weeks ago. On the show he strongly defended Hosni Mubarak and said the government would now engage in reform, which he welcomed. I don't recall him being an advocate for political reform two weeks ago.

There is a vast repositioning taking place in elite Egyptian politics. Just an hour ago or so it was announced that Hosni and Gamal Mubarak had resigned from their positions in the NDP (chairman and deputy sec-gen / head of Policies Committee respectively), as had Safwat al-Sherif (formerly Secretary General). You can see the old structure in the chart I put up a few days ago. Moufid Shehab has also lost his position, as has Zakariya Azmi (crucially, Mubarak's longstanding chief of staff). No doubt we'll hear of more.

This is a game of musical chairs to install a new political elite, some of which will be those who survived the old one. The new secretary-general of the NDP is Hossam Badrawy, once a enthusiastic backer of Gamal and MP between 2000-2005. Badrawy one was of the liberal, reformist NDPers who wanted to bring change from the inside. He was one of the most reasonable figures in the party and did not simply ignore problems like human rights. However, we was also associated with efforts at educational reform that bore little fruit and an attempt at a reform to the health sector that seemed to benefit his main business, private healthcare.

In part of the ongoing coup carried out by Omar Suleiman and his army buddies (with Mubarak remaining as a fig leaf so it is not seen as such) they need a new political class. Badrawy has class, money and social clout. He is sleek and shiny. Another former Gamal acolyte who is staying on is Muhammad Kamal, a smart political science professor who obtained his PhD at John Hopkins SAIS. I don't think a lot of Egyptians will have such selective amnesia as to forget where they stood before. 

Meanwhile, the scapegoats are already being created. People against who there has been a five-year press campaign, such as Ahmed Ezz, have had their assets seized and may be under arrest. I'm sure Ezz is no angel, but having him (and people that I believe are pretty respectable like Youssef Boutros-Ghali and Rachid Mohamed Rachid) scapegoated while others (notably generals dealing in big land deals) escape unscathed is ridiculous and dishonest. All of this reinforces my feeling that we are in the middle of a slow-moving coup, and possibly one planned for a long time.