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The Egyptian Endgame

PRINCETON – Can Egypt’s long history help us to understand the uprising, already labeled a revolution, now underway in Cairo, and how it might turn out? I believe so. After all, the demonstrations by millions of people to demand an end to the rule of President Hosni Mubarak and his National Democratic Party (NDP) are not an unprecedented phenomenon in the country.

Egypt’s history is replete with powerful and famous rulers (starting with Ramses II in pharaonic times, and including Saladin, Muhammad Ali, Napoleon Bonaparte, Lord Cromer, all the way up to the Egyptian military trio of Gamal Abdel Nasser, Anwar El Sadat, and Mubarak). This suggests that, although Egyptians may not necessarily prefer strongman rule, they are entirely comfortable with it and may even believe that it is necessary.