Posted on 02-07-2013
Filed Under (Current Affairs) by Rashtrakut

A year after the fall of Pharaoh Mubarak, the mobs are back on the street in Egypt in what appears greater numbers.  The target is Mubarak’s successor and Egypt’s first freely elected President Mohammed Morsi.

The Muslim Brotherhood joined the anti-Mubarak protests late.  While they were suppressed by his regime, they were allowed greater freedom of action than his secular rivals.  The intent was to highlight the Islamist threat and keep the aid dollars flowing.  The perverse effect of this strategy was to leave the Muslim Brotherhood as the best organized opposition movement in Egypt, allowing its member Mohammed Morsi to win the Presidency and the Brotherhood to dominate parliamentary elections.

Unfortunately, once in power Morsi has done his best to confirm the fears that he would be a sectional leader.  A controversial constitution was rammed through.  Journalists, bloggers and comedians have been persecuted for lese majeste.  The government has looked the other way as minorities have been attacked.  The economy has been mismanaged.  Most recently Morsi appointed a member of a former terrorist group (that killed 58 tourists in 1997) as governor of Luxor province – which relies on tourism.

So when the mobs emerged on the street in the last few days the scale of the protests caught everyone (including Morsi) by surprised.  Egypt’s police are in open mutiny and stood by as the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in Cairo were torched.  And now the army, for some reason respected by the protesters, seems to be peddling a soft coup by giving Morsi a 48 hour ultimatum.

I have no sympathy for Morsi.  Given the opportunity to be a statesman he chose to be a leader of narrow vision like Nouri al-Maliki in Iraq.  Unlike the Islamists in Turkey who provided a decade of good governance before gradually commencing dropping the veil, the Egyptian Brotherhood was too impatient.

Yet, I cannot but help feel that the path Egypt is heading down is extremely dangerous.  The army, which has conducted its share of abuses in the past year is walking out of this scot free.  A elected even if flawed President is being toppled a year into his term by extra constitutional means.  Egypt’s civil society is showing a dangerous lack of communication among its stake holders.  There remains the risk that the Brotherhood will feel cheated of power like the Algerian Islamists in the early 1990s setting off a cycle of instability.  Egypt’s secular opposition is largely united by its dislike of Morsi and the Brotherhood.  Yet unless they agree on a political and economic program they face another defeat in the ballot box.  Worse, a blue print is now being set on how to topple an elected regime…create a ruckus and beg the army to intervene.

It is hard to see how Morsi survives the current crisis.  It is also hard to see anything but turmoil in Egypt for the foreseeable future.

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