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Egypt's ad hoc transition plan

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Pity the reporters, political activists, and academics trying to keep up with Egypt's transition "plan." Every day, it seems, new moves by the ruling military, the courts, and the quasi-independent electoral commission turn expectations on their head.

It's human to want a see a pattern in all this, find a guiding hand behind all the maneuvering (a Machiavellian or a benevolent one, depending on your inclinations). Analysis is supposed to tease out the broader pattern, identify a narrative that helps make sense of events. But in the daily flow of statements, revelations, and warnings, I can't find anything but an unguided mess.

Writing at Foreign Policy, political scientist Nathan Brown calls "the phrase 'Egyptian transition process'... tragicomically oxymoronic in light of the dizzying series of developments over the past month."

The latest news is the disqualification of 10 Egyptian presidential aspirants a little more than six weeks from the scheduled May 23 vote. Most were no-hopers, but three are heavyweights.

Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, a fiery, and to many frightening, salafy leader (he called Osama bin Laden a "martyr" after the Al Qaeda leader was killed in Pakistan) was tossed from the race because his deceased mother was a US citizen (it's Egypt's own birther controversy; Abu Ismail denies the claim).

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