Crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood Ends Arab Spring

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The Arab Spring, which peaked with the ouster of former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, is all but over after the Muslim Brotherhood was banned once again by an Egyptian court earlier this week. The status quo ante is largely restored, with the Brotherhood underground, the military firmly in charge, and an interim government poised to strengthen the generals rather than cultivating real democracy.

Arguably, the cause of democracy in the Arab world is worse off now than it was in early 2011. Egypt was ripe for transition to a stable democratic system, according to a theory, championed by Fareed Zakaria, that those countries with per capita Gross Domestic Product of roughly $3000 make that change more smoothly than poorer ones. Egypt meets that threshold (barely), and its democracy ought to have done far better.

The character of the Muslim Brotherhood itself is undoubtedly the main factor in Egypt’s democratic failure. Not only was it incompetent in domestic affairs and adventurous (i.e. jihadist) in foreign affairs, but it was also profoundly undemocratic in its rule. Actually, it would be more accurate to say it practiced a sort of illiberal democracy, since Islamist parties do enjoy overwhelming majority support among Egyptian voters.

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