Sunday, July 7, 2013
Once again; What's going on in Egypt?
Apparently the Arab spring was not just a season, it was a beginning of the biggest mass movement in human history, while the results remain unknown and uncertain, it is important to understand what is happening in Egypt.
While the recent events in Egypt are generally recognized as a military coup in the west and in Egypt by followers of political Islam, in Egypt the people are determined to view it as a popular revolution against the regime of the Muslim Brotherhood giving the fact that the military assumed power after nearly 22 million Egyptians demonstrated against the president in the biggest demonstration in the history of man. Others in Egypt view it as both, a revolution followed by a coup supporting it. Practically this is a ridiculous technical question for either it was a revolution or a coup that won't change any facts on the ground, however this is not the case for Washington. The foreign assistance act which is a U.S law says in section 508 that the Us has to cut aid to any country whose “whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup or decree.” That law generated the problem now existing regarding the US 1.5 billion dollars aid to Egypt. First I almost guarantee it the US won't cut aid to Egypt, Egypt is too important and the US cant afford losing it. Second, I have a lot of doubt that the real problem for the Obama administration is a legal one but rather its a problem regarding the current foreign policy of reaching mutual understandings with radical Islamist groups in the region. One can't ignore the strong support for Islamic militants in Syria, and also one should not forget that no significant reaction from Al Qaeda took place following the assassination of Bin Laden.
Well, what is going on right now in Egypt is the same as what has been going on since Jan 2011, a wave of political unrest following the throwing of a 30 years brutal western puppet dictator. Egyptians face a new reality of a divided diverse society with a disastrous economy and the ultimate failure of state infrastructure.
Following the fall of Mubarak in 2011, The army took over power promising a democratic transition which never took place. The Islamists represented in the three large groups of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Salafis and the ex-Jihadists pressured the military for quick elections, the revolutionaries demanded a longer transitional period to allow them to organize new political parties. Eventually the military made the deal with the Islamists, and as usual America sponsored, introducing quick and distorted constitutional reforms and calling for elections which definitely came in the favor of the Islamists. The new Muslim Brotherhood regime promised the army financial independence and no accountability for any crimes committed before or after Mubarak left. The Islamists started to shape the state and theoretical society as they wished, rapid process of Islamization took place, liberals and secularists were excluded from the whole political process, Christians were not even represented while writing the new constitution. The MB showed no sign that it was ready to share power with any one else announcing that as a winning majority they have the right of total domination. The new regime made it clear that it will shape the new Egyptian identity solely (For further reference about the Egyptian identity crisis: http://www.husseinmansour.com/2013/06/the-quest-for-egyptian-identity-and.html). The revolutionary forces felt betrayed and abandoned, left only to count the numbers of those who died confronting the forces of Mubarak and the army. Frustration and anger were the common factor between liberals, socialists, secularists and the non-Muslim minority, the army was not impressed.
On the other hand and to be clear, the vast majority of Egyptians don't give a crap about the issues of Islam, identity, secularism or any other ideological confrontation. The main problem of the Egyptians is poverty and economic development. It is true that Egyptians elected the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi, but they did so on the religious assumption that religious people are naturally successful, honest and blessed by Allah. An assumption which was destroyed shortly after the elections, the failure of the Muslim Brotherhood was remarkably quick and disastrous in a way that even the opposition did not expect. The MB was totally focusing on assuming power and occupying the state that it ignored totally the issues of economical development. Egypt is sinking in debt and yet the MB was asking the international bank for a new big 2 billion dollars loan, unemployment is higher than ever and the value of the Egyptian currency is falling quickly. The MB did very little to prevent the country from hitting the rock bottom. One American friend reported to me from Cairo in Morsi's last days: "There is no security, no tap water, no electricity and no gas at the gas stations. The current situation in the streets is no less than a Hollywood zombie apocalypse." When I heard so, I knew that a military coup was imminent, because first the people just two years ago revolted against a dictator who was much better than the current, secondly the military who owns and controls 40% of Egyptian economy had to move to protect its own economical empire.
While it is true that what happened in Egypt is technically a military coup, I would rather call on us to change our own concepts of democracy and democratic change than to call on Egyptians to put back to power a terrorist Islamic group. When democracy brings to power a group that is inefficient, discriminatory, oppressing women and minorities, have no history of democratic practices, supports and sponsors global terrorism, then my dear western reader there is something utterly wrong in our understanding of democracy. Those who call to kill the infidels, slay the Jews, cover the women, hang the gays and burn the Christians should not be considered legal political power nor beneficiaries of free speech, but terrorists. The Egyptian military coup saved Egypt and region from entering a long dark age of bloodshed and jihad mania, a move which we should be grateful for even if we would still call on the military to withdraw from political life. Personally I have spent time in military prison and had a bad experience with Egyptian military, yet I have no doubt that what the military did was for the better, I would rather protest against a secular dictator who may imprison me, than to protest against an Islamic dictator who will slaughter me then eat my organs.
There is a problem with the Islamic concept of a democracy, in Egypt, Iran and Gaza we have seen that Islamists understand democracy as elections and they use elections to eliminate any other democratic practices such as free speech and minority rights. Now in Egypt the Middle East is learning for the first time that lesson, that democracy just starts with elections and it has to do more with what you do with power after you reach it. Egypt amazingly have learned that lesson in a year, the same people who elected the MB are the same ones who demonstrated to remove it from power. While the future remains totally uncertain in Egypt as the military is once again back to power after a disastrous experience of "democratic transition", it is generally a great thing for the world that a terrorist Islamist group is now being alienated in its own land of birth. I personally don't think I will be able to go back to Egypt anytime soon, yet I should celebrate the fall of the terrorist group and remain skeptical of the Egyptian military.
Anti Morsi Protests