|Fred wrote, "The Egyptian military council has an interesting balancing act to perform now. They have to oversee what better be regarded as free and fair elections, and while doing so, might be overseeing a dilution of their own political power in Egypt. Is that going to happen|
That's a very astute question.
There has been talk that the military might modify Egypt's constitution while in power (not an unusual process for that country), and I imagine that they would so in a way to preserve much or all of their power, while recognizing more freedoms than the people currently have. I'm suspecting that they know that it is important to maintain the nations high level of respect for the army while attempting to satisfy those demands that would otherwise just generate another revolt later if not addressed. They use their military as a kind of extra-constitutional checks and balances. Thailand does that as well. Every now and then the military takes over because the politicians have screwed up beyond belief and the Army make minor changes, lets things cool off for a while, seeds a new government, and turns it loose.
There are two kinds of power exercised by the military in Egyptian politics - the power the military wields over economic matters, and the power the they command to change the government, when needed. I see them loosening their power over economic matters - too a degree - while retaining their power to intervene in the government. This power to intervene is tightly linked to the people's trust in the military. That trust is what allows it to act like a democratically-driven recall function - as the agent that does the recall of the government, the restructuring, and then turns the new government loose.
Fred, I agree that the primary issue is going to the economy. They have an ancient tradition of corruption in Egypt. Everyone at the top is wired in, Mubarak, the higher level officers, and business cronies. They could actually all become richer (by partaking of a much larger pie) if they made changes to encourage more free enterprise - but they might not see that or just don't want to risk any change to the fact that under the current structure, they are getting theirs. (Mubarak doesn't count, he was just the face of the structure). If they don't make economic changes, they will have more revolt down the road.
That group at the top feeds off of Egypt and to continue doing so, they will have to quiet the people, enough for the money to resume flowing. That means making what changes are needed (and no more than needed). Changing the face on the structure, which seems like a major change, but might really be the least substantive of changes.
China's great push right now is to use their currently cheap labor to make goods that are sold to foreigners for the capital to build a manufacturing infrastructure and to acquire long-term, basic resources - minerals, energy sources, etc. It is a race for them against the rising cost of their labor and the dangers of the foreigners becoming unable or unwilling to continue to buy. As China's economies become larger and freer they begin to generate a middle class and a middle class is a more expensive labor. If China gets the manufacturing infrastructure in place, and the resouces on line, they will be in a good position to shift from sales to foreigners, to sales to their own population. They have this massive population and when the population has enough money they can replace the undependable purchasing power of the gwailo. This is their great goal. (China's problem of course is that they are trying to plan this and each intervention in the market place will have adverse effects and those adverse effects may be the monkey wrench in their plans.)
Egypt's rulers-of-the-structure need to see that their country's cheap labor and high unemployment are the greatest assets they have now when added to the opportunity to set the economy free and the power to keep things stable (if they will begin the process of recognizing rights, and if the strong Islamic influence in the population doesn't derail their attempts - 90% Muslim and 82% believe anyone leaving the religion should be killed).
Long term the only hope is to let Capitalism's benefits role in for Egyptians at a rate that makes the people happy while also increasing the civil rights - all to keep the average Joe too happy to listen to what will be increasingly shrill cries from the fundamentalists (this is NOT the way they will want to go). With enough time, and with a secular education of the next generation or two they can avoid the fatal clash with Islam that results in Theocracy. I wouldn't take an even money bet they make it.