Workshop Report

Chatham House

This paper is a summary of discussions that took place at a workshop held in Cairo in March 2011, six weeks after the former president, Hosni Mubarak, was forced to resign in the face of mass protests against his rule.

The workshop brought together a group of Egyptian activists, opposition party members, journalists and representatives of civil society organizations from across the political spectrum with a small number of UK policy-makers to discuss Egypt's changing political landscape and its relations with the UK and the West.

Key findings that emerged included:

  • Egyptians feel that in the post-Mubarak era they have an unprecedented opportunity to reshape the political landscape.
  • Challenges that will be faced include increasing political awareness at the grassroots; connecting activists and the political elite to the needs of marginalized populations, especially in rural areas; and encouraging/enabling a fragmented opposition to coalesce into coherent groups.
  • The military's role in politics is seen as problematic and it should be replaced by a civilian government as soon as possible.
  • The Mubarak era has left a bitter legacy in Egypt's relations with the West, as most Egyptians perceive Western governments to have been supporters of his rule; Western policy-makers will have to make serious efforts to build relationships of trust with the new political actors in Egypt.
Project: Egypt in Transition