Egypt is a country where people operate on myths instead of facts, which is one of the primary reasons why we never seem to get on with the country. Between the 7,000 years of civilisation (of which 2,000 we were under occupation), the army that never gets defeated (except in every war it actually partakes in) and the greatly “peaceful” 25 January Revolution (which had its share of insane violence), the list of bull we like to tell ourselves and others about, well, ourselves is rather limitless. Keeping that in mind, there are 4 prevalent myths that we can now retire for good. Here they are in order.
1) Egypt is too big to fail
This myth, while originally started by foreign analysts, became a meme amongst local ones, as a way to assure the population in time where doom is all but impending. The truth is quite the opposite: Egypt, at this point in time, is too big to save. Between massive debts, a broken government, a huge impoverished population, disappearing fuel, rapidly devaluating currency, stagnant economy, lack of security, and a continuously erupting political volcano, it is impossible to save Egypt from economically failing without a world bail-out package akin to that spent on reconstructing Iraq.
Since no one has that kind of money, and the IMF loan will do very little to restore confidence thanks to an openly corrupt judicial system in Egypt that shakes down businessmen for money, it is safe to say that even saving Egypt economically is nothing but a pipedream at this point. Egypt is not failing, Egypt has already failed. We simply do not want to admit it.
2) A political solution to stop Egypt’s crisis is still possible
Simply false, and we can thank the Muslim Brotherhood for that. Due to their actions and the actions of the Morsi administration, the MB has crossed so many lines that they can’t back-peddle now, even if they wanted to, since any compromise at this point will lead to the collapse of their regime.
For example: if Morsi changes the prosecutor general to one that isn’t beholden to the MB, his first order of business will be investigating all the crimes that the MB has committed over the past eight months. If he does the same thing with the Ministry of Interior and replaces the minister, the police will not fight a single battle for the Muslim Brotherhood as they do now, thus making their end closer.
If Morsi changes the government with technocratic heads, they will stop the newly formed patronage network that the MB is building, and without it, they can no longer sustain their organisational loyalty. A political solution has to involve compromise, and the MB can not engage in a compromise anymore, and they will take the road that they are on to its predictable and inevitable end.
3) The Muslim Brotherhood has organised militias
From everything we have seen in every major clash with the MB and its member, this myth is also simply false. The MB is organised and can mobilise its members, but its members are mostly educated middle class and are not trained in militant warfare, which leaves the most impoverished members of the MB from outside of Cairo to do their fighting, which is why they keep getting heavy defeats despite their numerical superiority in any clash.
Even the notion that their Islamist allies have militias and can recreate the Iranian Basij is also suspect and dubious. Even if they did, they are nowhere near the size necessary to either engage in prolonged armed conflict or control the country by force, because if they could, they would have by now. The truth is they don’t and can’t, and the even more uncomfortable truth is that even the army, with its troops and weapons, can’t control the country at this point.
4) If Morsi is overthrown, Egypt will descend into civil war
This one is not only false, but its opposite is actually true: If Morsi doesn’t leave office, Egypt will descend into a very quick and brief civil war. He did it to himself, ever since the constitutional referendum crisis. There are three ways for peaceful change: Protests, judicial litigation and the ballot box.
In their quest to consolidate their power, the MB has rendered them all ineffective. Protests get ignored, the Judiciary under the new constitution is defanged and the people are so sick of voter fraud that they simply don’t go to vote (the Shari’a constitution was voted on by 32%, i.e. 68% of Egyptian didn’t bother to go vote for their constitution, let alone one that, if defeated, would signal the defeat of Shari’a itself for a population that identifies with being religiously conservative). With the three peaceful options for change no longer on the table, this only leaves room for violent change.
What’s been stopping it has been the fear of the MB militias engaging in an Algerian-style civil war, but since it is becoming apparent that the MB don’t really have an organised or effective militia, this fear is quickly eroding and being replaced by rage, which will only increase as the country continues to economically fail throughout the summer.
Given that, at this point, the MB can not engage in a political solution either, their violent overthrow is all but inevitable at this point, and the MB cannot sustain a war with the Egyptian people for long, no matter how many weapons they buy, because they simply do not have the numbers. Their days are numbered and they know it, and while it’s regretful that it will come to that, they have no one to blame but themselves.