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So, what’s next?

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Mahmoud Salem

Mahmoud Salem

Good Morning Egypt…

So, 30 June arrived, and as anticipated, it was spectacular. What could only be described as an endless sea of people swarmed Egypt’s streets, showcasing a flood of flags and red cards to “President” Mohamed Morsi and his beloved Muslim Brotherhood. The infighting between different factions in the marches was nonexistent, while the violence dreaded and anticipated by many ended up being a fraction of what was expected. As news of the dead and the sexually assaulted in Tahrir Square put a damper on our spirits towards the end of the day, the majority of the population remains ecstatic at the outpouring of support and solidarity seen on the streets yesterday.

While we seem to be marching towards the direction of the third scenario (mentioned in my previous article), some things are still unclear. First, what will Morsi and the Brotherhood do to resolve this situation? Secondly, which side will the military take this time?

So far the military and the police are taking the same position that they took during the Camel incident, which is clear non-involvement. While most people took the military helicopter’s dropping of Egyptian flags on Tahrir as a sign of which side the military is taking, its inaction so far showcases that it was simply a PR gesture and an attempt to solidify the military’s position as the “supporter of all Egyptian people”. It’s a situation that can be summarised as this: “I will not remove Morsi, so chill out, Brotherhood, but I will throw some flags towards you, my dear opposition, so you know that I love you too. I am Daddy. I love all my children equally. For now anyway…”

As for Morsi and his Brotherhood, they seem to be at loss as to what to do, for they know that they must walk on eggshells regarding their next move. This is why they sent out two Presidency spokespeople in press conferences yesterday, and each seemed more defensive and uncomfortable than the last.  But in final conclusion, they both showcased the intellectual and political bankruptcy of Morsi and his advisors: they offered no solutions or initiatives, and called upon the “youth” to negotiate to resolve the crisis. Big mistake. First of all, all ages went down yesterday, so singling out the youth will not resolve the problem for the older generations who went down, and secondly, the youth are even more unwilling to compromise than the elder generation. The Brotherhood tried to use a card played by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces during the transitional period, but it won’t work this time. Even if the youth have leaders, they have learned the lesson from their predecessors and will not allow themselves to be used as an intermediary or cover for the regime.

So let’s be constructive: what can Morsi do? Well, he has a number of moves, but none of them entail him staying in office for long. He can abdicate right now and end this. He can call for a referendum on his continuation in office, which will buy him a few weeks. Or he can call for early presidential elections after new parliamentary elections this fall, which is the one he is most likely to end up taking, but it won’t be enough. Regardless of what option he takes, but especially if he goes with the third option, he will have to: (1) fire the government and the Prosecutor general; (2) call for a new constitutional committee; and (3) arrest some of the prominent names in the Brotherhood and supporters who have directly facilitated criminal acts or incited them, if he wishes to keep the order going. He needs to sacrifice the leadership, if he wishes for the Brotherhood to survive in any way. The population’s anger will not be assuaged any other way. And please, dear Brotherhood advisors who are reading this, stop thinking that repeating the word legitimacy will save you. It won’t. What we saw on 30 June were arguably the greatest demonstrations in modern history, and it was all over Egypt, while the supporters of the regime were all clustered in one intersection in Cairo. You lost the support of the population, and no words can remedy that; only actions will.

No matter what happens, let’s celebrate the Egyptians who have stood in the millions in opposition to attempts of creating a theocratic state in Egypt. Muslims and Christians went down yesterday to stop a government that: (1) attempted to destroy the institution of the state; (2) utilised religion to smear its opponents and critics; and (3) incited sectarianism on an unprecedented level against both Christians and Shiites (locally and abroad). In the new Egypt there will naturally be a place for Salafi and religious conservative parties, but they will have to abide by the rules of the game: no sectarianism, no thuggery and no religion in politics. Politics should be the war of ideas aimed at making the lives of people better, not a method to get into power to simply fulfil your fantasies of absolute power and divine rule.

While we are at it, dear western analysts and pundits: please don’t tell us that we shouldn’t take to the streets and overthrow a regime that violates our rights, kills us, places itself above all accountability (popular or judicial) and fails at providing even the most basic functions of the state due to its insistence on resorting to nepotism over efficiency and experience. You have institutions, we don’t. You have rights that are respected in the constitution, we don’t, and we won’t be silent until they are enshrined as well, and we will topple any regime that attempts to take them away from us. The age of the strong stabilising autocratic regimes in the Middle East is over. For one last time, the people will decide their fate, not regimes or interests. Also, dear US government: it would be wise to remove Ambassador Anne Patterson from her position, and place her as far away from the Middle East as possible for her complete and epic failure to do her job and complete antagonism to the population in your name. Transfer her elsewhere.  Swaziland sounds nice.

The next few days are incredibly important, and if the government doesn’t respond, then a national strike is the next logical step. I only hope that the political leadership, whether Tamarod or the NSF, get their act together and produce unified positions and actions. Any failure to remove this regime will be squarely in their hands, and will leave people like me with no choice but to leave this land, not out of fear of persecution, but rather out of boredom.  This cycle of protests that has lasted the past two and a half years cannot continue, and our divisiveness must end once and for all. It’s time we do this right. One nation, inalienable rights and all. The people have done their part; it’s time for you to do yours.

About the author

Mahmoud Salem

Mahmoud Salem

Mahmoud Salem is a political activist, writer, and social media consultant. His writings could be found at www.sandmonkey.org and follow him @sandmonkey on Twitter


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