The Sorrows of Egypt: A Tale of Two Men
Back to the Bazaar
Freedom and Justice in the Modern Middle East
Adrift on the Nile
The Limits of the Opposition in Egypt
Is El Baradei Egypt's Hero?
Mohamed El Baradei and the Chance for Reform
Morning in Tunisia
The Frustrations of the Arab World Boil Over
Letter From Cairo
The People's Military in Egypt?
The U.S.-Egyptian Breakup
Washington's Limited Options in Cairo
The Muslim Brotherhood After Mubarak
What the Brotherhood Is and How it Will Shape the Future
Egypt's Democratic Mirage
How Cairo’s Authoritarian Regime Is Adapting to Preserve Itself
Overcoming Fear and Anxiety in Tel Aviv
How Israel Can Turn Egypt's Unrest Into an Opportunity
Mubarakism Without Mubarak
Why Egypt’s Military Will Not Embrace Democracy
Postcolonial Time Disorder
Egypt and the Middle East, Stuck in the Past
Egypt's Constitutional Ghosts
Deciding the Terms of Cairo’s Democratic Transition
A Tunisian Solution for Egypt’s Military
Why Egypt's Military Will Not Be Able to Govern
The Fall of the Pharaoh
How Hosni Mubarak’s Reign Came to an End
The Black Swan of Cairo
How Suppressing Volatility Makes the World Less Predictable and More Dangerous
Green Movement 2.0?
How U.S. Support Could Lead the Opposition to Victory
Letter From Sana’a
Saleh on the Edge
Bahrain’s Shia Question
What the United States Gets Wrong About Sectarianism
Rage Comes to Baghdad
Will Iraq's Recent Protests Lead to Revolt?
The Sturdy House That Assad Built
Why Damascus Is Not Cairo
Rageless in Riyadh
Why the Al Saud Dynasty Will Remain
Syria's Assad No Longer in Vogue
What Everyone Got Wrong About Bashar al-Assad
Meanwhile in the Maghreb
Have Algeria and Morocco Avoided North Africa’s Unrest?
Bahrain's Base Politics
The Arab Spring and America’s Military Bases
Let Them Eat Bread
How Food Subsidies Prevent (and Provoke) Revolutions in the Middle East
Libya's Terra Incognita
Who and What Will Follow Qaddafi?
What Intervention Looks Like
How the West Can Aid the Libyan Rebels
The Folly of Protection
Is Intervention Against Qaddafi’s Regime Legal and Legitimate?
To the Shores of Tripoli
Why Operation Odyssey Dawn Should Not Stop At Benghazi
A New Lease on Life for Humanitarianism
How Operation Odyssey Dawn Will Revive RtoP
The Mythology of Intervention
Debating the Lessons of History in Libya
Flight of the Valkyries?
What Gender Does and Doesn’t Tell Us About Operation Odyssey Dawn
Winning Ugly in Libya
What the United States Should Learn From Its War in Kosovo
Demystifying the Arab Spring
Parsing the Differences Between Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya
Understanding the Revolutions of 2011
Weakness and Resilience in Middle Eastern Autocracies
The Heirs of Nasser
Who Will Benefit From the Second Arab Revolution?
The Rise of the Islamists
How Islamists Will Change Politics, and Vice Versa
Terrorism After the Revolutions
How Secular Uprisings Could Help (or Hurt) Jihadists
Egyptians seeking to build a new future after the rule of Hosni Mubarak hope to draw on, as well as correct, the flaws in the country's longstanding constitutional tradition. In the days since a military council took power from Mubarak, the country's political opposition has been quick to articulate its demands in the language of dry legal texts and procedures.
The current constitution was first enacted in 1971 and amended several times in the years afterward, but its precursors date back to a century before. Egypt's first constitutional effort came in 1882, when an assembly approved a basic law to govern its relationship with the cabinet. In 1923, when the country gained its independence from the British Empire, a second and more comprehensive document was written to combine, however uneasily, a parliamentary system with a monarchy.
When the 1923 constitution was scrapped in the wake of a 1952 military coup, Egypt's legal scholars set to work designing a republican constitution based on liberal and democratic values. Their work was shelved in 1954, however, by the country's new military rulers, who issued instead a series of documents to serve their own ideological and institutional needs. These new rules delivered the Egyptian polity into the hands of a one-party system in which all power rested with Gamal Abdel Nasser, Egypt's president until his death in 1970.
In 1971, Egypt received a new constitution, which would prove to be a more complicated and long-lived document. When Anwar al-Sadat succeeded Nasser, he found himself with rivals in various institutions, such as in the sole political party and the security apparatus. At the same time, he looked to recalibrate the regime's ideology, moving gently away from socialism and toward religion. Both problems, he realized, could be addressed with a new constitution. Sadat convened a large and remarkably diverse committee: feminists, Islamic legal scholars, liberals, socialists, nationalists, and representatives of the Christian church were all represented. On the whole, the group moved in the direction Sadat wanted: weakening the party, nominally strengthening legal institutions, and
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