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FOR EXPERT COMMENT: University of Missouri Political Science Experts Discuss Egyptian Future

February 10th, 2011

Story Contact: MU News Bureau, 573-882-6211, munewsbureau@missouri.edu

The views and opinions expressed in this “for expert comment” release are based on research and/or opinions of the researcher(s) and/or faculty member(s) and do not reflect the University’s official stance.

COLUMBIA, Mo. —While Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was expected to step down today after days of citizen protests, Mubarak remains in power after vowing “not to accept foreign interventions.”  University of Missouri professors from the Department of Political Science in the College of Arts and Science say that many questions remain for both sides of this conflict.

“The only question that continues to cause concern is who will emerge as an acceptable replacement to Mubarak and how the military will respond during a transition.  To my knowledge, the protests are truly ‘mass’ in nature without a figurehead leading the charge; this makes it difficult for the government to understand what concessions need to be made to satisfy the protesters and complicates who would take over an interim government should Mubarak leave before elections can be held,” said Katharine Floros, assistant professor of political science and expert on civil war and world politics. “Additionally, the military has many economic interests that will be disrupted if a new democracy introduces civilian control of the military.  Still, if I had to pick a Middle Eastern country to go through this process with the least amount of bloodshed, Egypt would have been among the top of the list.”

Floros’ research focuses on international and civil conflicts. She is most interested in determining how a state’s demographic profile, including its population growth, population density, level of urbanization, age stratification, and refugee population, affects its propensity to engage in international disputes or experience civil conflict.  Related research topics of interest include the effects of population shifts among rival ethnic groups, the allocation of scarce resources by governments when faced with demographic pressure, and the effect of demographic pressure and environmental degradation on violent conflict. She can be reached at florosk@missouri.edu.

“The situation in Egypt creates a great deal of uncertainty for international relations in the Middle East,” said Stephen Quackenbush, assistant professor of political science and expert in political conflict.

“Egypt under Mubarak has been a force for peace in the region and the closest ally of the U.S. in the region, other than Israel. It is difficult to know what kind of regime will emerge in Egypt following this situation, but the potential for renewed tension and conflict between Egypt and Israel certainly exists. The worst case scenario is probably that Egypt becomes another Iran.”

Quackenbush is an expert in international relations. His research focuses on security and conflict processes and foreign policy. He can be reached at quackenbushs@missouri.edu.

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