Egypt has traditionally played a dominant role in regional Middle Eastern politics, and in the wake of the 2011 revolution it was widely expected that Cairo would reclaim this position for the first time since the Camp David Accords in 1978. However, three local issues have prevented Cairo from reasserting its historic leadership: suspicion of the Muslim Brotherhood in many regional countries; the absence of a social contract unifying Egyptian society; and an economic slowdown that worsens as the country flounders from one political crisis to another, eroding business confidence (see p10).

The Muslim Brotherhood is the oldest and largest Islamic political party in Egypt and the Arab world, so it came as no surprise that it won Egypt’s 2012 presidential race. What has been unexpected is its lack of local political judgement. It has quickly antagonized the Egyptian youth movement that pioneered the Tahrir Square revolution, as well as the conservative, liberal and Nasserite parties and the country’s active and influential civic society (including the lawyers’ union and the judiciary). (CONTINUED - 1043 WORDS)