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Egypt in another transition, what to expect this time?

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Ziad Akl

Ziad Akl

Indeed, Egyptian people together with the Egyptian state have proved to be much more interesting than the majority would have thought. What happened in the beginning of July was surprising to so many people around the world and once more, to Egyptians themselves.

A week ago we were busy debating terminology and whether what happened was a coup, an uprising that the military participated in, or a national revolution which the military was a part of by virtue of its belonging to the national fabric of Egyptian society. Although some are still caught on that debate, it has become more and more unimportant and out of context. It simply feels like we are asking the wrong questions.

Does it really matter what to name what happened? I believe terminology will not make a difference. What we should be more concerned about is the outcome of all that. After years of stagnation, the Egyptian state is paying the price of the political vacuum that Mubarak ensured. The overthrowing of Morsi is a fact, a solid political reality so difficult to reverse, despite what is being heard through speaker phones in Rabaa Al-Adaweya. Whether the Muslim Brotherhood accepts what happened or does not accept it is becoming politically irrelevant. A new transitional phase is upon Egypt and it is important to think about what could happen in this new phase.

The Egyptian state is back to its classical form from when Mohamed Ali introduced the concept of a modern state to Egyptians. Once again, the military is the core of that state and remains as the centre of political power. Although not represented directly, it is indeed the nucleus of this transition process.

It is very likely for different political and social forces to start identifying themselves and allying according to their position from the military. Perhaps the military itself will work throughout that year on representing itself politically in a civil framework.

The new government’s actual power will depend very much on its performance and its ability to induce tangible economic reform. But how communication takes place between the army leadership and the government will remain secret and could very well be a source of problems later on.

The opposition front, now more of a mainstream though, will soon start suffering from the fundamental differences between its different members. Divisions will start taking place and the now seemingly united anti-Morsi front will fragment into factions that very likely could politically confront each other.

Islamists in general will carry the heaviest load. Salafis, specifically Al-Nour Party, have a golden opportunity which they will most probably use to enhance their image as a more moderate Islamic political power. Meanwhile, factions are expected to appear within the Muslim Brotherhood and other more radical groups and/or parties. Youth from the Brotherhood who see how power-driven and corrupt the guidance bureau is will emerge as a new political force.

The most sensitive issue that remains is the Brotherhood. The Brotherhood will try for as long as it can to spread the conspiracy discourse and the coup scenario to the whole world. The new political elite will disagree on whether to endorse the Brotherhood as a legitimate political force or draft a law that bans them from participation in politics for some time. However, the presence of the Brotherhood and the amount of space it will be allowed, will depend on military-Brotherhood relations. But most likely, this guidance bureau will soon be overthrown from the brotherhood itself.

So, finally, should we expect democracy out of what happened in Egypt? I believe that democracy in its institutional sense will take Egypt years to build, until a civil institution could actually replace the military state. However, the chances for a more efficient democratisation process are now higher than the first transitional period. Why is it democratically promising is a question that would require a new article to answer.

Those who support what happened since 30 June, however, must understand that the building process will take time and very likely be full of misfortunes. Those who still support Morsi need to figure out a new form of representation and a new elite since the Brotherhood elite are all politically consumed.

Despite all that, it is quite impossible to challenge Mohamed Morsi’s inefficient administration. Therefore, whatever the outcome of this will finally be, it will still be much closer to democracy than whatever Morsi’s administration might have delivered.

About the author

Ziad A. Akl

Ziad A. Akl

Ziad A. Akl is a political analyst and sociologist. He is a senior researcher at the Egyptian Studies Unit in Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies.

  • Sally Wilton

    I would be very interested to read some plans for the economic future of Egypt. Ideas for how they can implement the necessary free market economy would be good especially now that they have such an excellent economist as PM.

    • sam enslow

      This you will never see. To discuss real problems here is not done. The solution to any problem is to find someone to blame, the main target this season is America. No one will admit that Egyptians ever made a mistake. The platforms of the two main political currents are, “I love God.” and, “I have nice hair.”
      I have no use for Morsy and all Islamists; however, Morsy was right on one thing, the Deep State will fight all efforts to reform it, and it must be reformed if Egypt is to advance. So far in Egypt, only a few chairs have been rearranged – just like Mubarak used to do.

  • petergraves3

    Time for some tough love so here it is:

    If you support coup against an elected government, your a traitor to the people of that nation.

    Mounser and the current Egyptian government one word sums them up: TRAITOR. What else would you call someone that placed there people under military rule, more likely rigged the election or make any election for the next twenty years TAINTED and subject to corruption with weak leadership?

    Hes’ tainting the election process, so terrorist will always exist in Egypt, because when the people see that they don’t have a voice, they look for terrorism to have one.

    Hes’ bringing back a corrupt regime, that increases terrorism.

    Albright said something once and she said this, the biggest mistake in foreign policy that the United States made was to support a coup in Iran. Real foreign policy experts without an agenda agree coups brings long terms bad governments, and it creates TERRORIST, and we are supporting this because, Why?

    Its’ legal? No. Its’ in our interest? No.

    He really thinks he is doing Egypt a favor?

    What kind of moron is he?

    When it boils down to our interest being the US, traitors make horrible partners, because they lack legitimacy and rightfully so.

    Your living in a fantasy that you just ousted a President that received 51% of the Egyptian vote and not to expect generations of backlash, mistrust, and contempt.

    In fact the corruption of your movement is so aweful that your charging him with crimes committed by the previous regime: “The Brotherhood will try for as long as it can to spread the conspiracy discourse and the coup scenario to the whole world.” Here are you charging a man with crime that he escaped from a brutal dictator, (if that isn’t enforcement of the previous regime I don’t know what is), and than your lying to YOURSELF that he is at fault. What kind of Kool Aid have you been drinking. (Its’ American term for denial).

    You have just placed the cornerstones of the Murbarck regime back into power which is the judiciary and military and killed 60 unarmed people wanting to have their president back, and things are escalating to get a lot worse that your arresting (300 leadership of Brotherhood), and here is the crown jewel of it all your placing yourself in the brotherhood positions or commonly known as “stealing their jobs”, where not one of them was selected by popular vote, better yet, your creating a six month time for an election, so like the Murbarck regime gives you time to strong arm and rig a NEW illegal election.

    So these people are not going to retaliate? Your not going to create an underground/ military movement that won’t end up with new terrorist on the streets in Egypt and the world? Thats how terrorism starts, and will last for decades, (probably generations) all because you were a sore loser in 2012.

    We in the United States won’t give you a helping hand to implement tyranny on your own people, and we won’t give you a helping hand to create more terrorist, because in the end it will just make us into the villains put our interest that more in danger by unifying extremism and when the 51% becomes 70%, because your military is killing folks, your movement will be crushed, and no hopes for return. More Egyptians day by day are siding with Morsi supporters not because they agree with him, but because they don’t agree with traitors running their country, like any civilized people would agree on, and I don’t blame them.

    Here are my correspondences to my elected leaders, and the issues I have with this coup. I even haven’t begun to discuss the “safety issues” in conjunction to the economical issues that anyone in power could not provide to the urban/ governmental jobs in Egypt, and when you create an illegitimate power like this it magnifies the problem by twenty fold and that itself is another discussion I have had with my elected leaders.

    Basically I am (copy and pasting) correspondences.

    ISSUE #1: Mr. Moursi “failed to meet the demands of the people.”

    Our response that is why we have elections. When leaders fail to meet people demands in a democracy they are voted out in four years. President Moursi had three years. If it was that easy I would have gotten rid of President Obama for hiring Comey as the head of the FBI and hiring him as the janitor to the White House not the President. A position that for the last 7 years (President Obama) promised us (the people not to hire anyone from the Ashcroft) years to renew the patriot act, a position that he failed us on, and for that failure there is a political price to be paid, similarly community leaders in Egypt can hold similar (political) prices on the Brotherhood leadership.

    By denying them access to the community, denying them knowledge, and empowering their opponents. These are the strong motivators that all community leaders have when faced with a brutal self-righteous parasite, without the use of the military or other unethical means of force.

    ISSUE #2: Mr. Moursi is a threat to safety and world itself by promoting terrorism.

    Our response: Fact terrorism was largely created under “murbarck” brutal dictatorship policies, in fact installing the head of the judiciary is indirectly “redirecting” Murbarack appointees back to the position of power that more in likely in the long run invite more terrorism, it would force the Egyptians to go more forward towards extremism, and it would root out moderate positions, similar on what to happened in Iran. Therefore the current “coup” is against our interest, and that is why we have laws that prevent “taxpayer” funds to go to Egypt for this very reason, where our funds are not funding TERRORISM.

    Issue #3: Egypt is a liberal state and therefore has no use for brotherhood policies.

    Our response: Egypt is not a liberal state. Egypt is a traditionalist state, and has been for a very long time, and for those small minority communities who wish more liberal policies, it would be best for them to leave Egypt, while we “condom” the prosecution of minority groups, we certainly do not endorse that a small group of people high-jack the entire country for their views. The reason why we shouldn’t or won’t endorse is because we want to protect minority communities, denying people liberties by force is a recipe to oppression, oppression leads to retaliation against minorities, and to our interest, and that is why we promote liberty by choice not liberty by force. If they wish to stay in Egypt to promote their view of the world that is fine, but they shouldn’t be allowed to shove their views by force with the military. (like the Soviets did to the world and the Russians).

    Issue #4: A person like me has no understanding of Egypt and therefore should not say anything.

    Our response: A person like me has a very “good” intellectual understanding of Egypt, and that is why I respect the Egyptians choices a year ago, now (that its’ not taken from them) and three years from now. It’s people like Mohamed ElBaradei who have no respect for the Egyptians, by acting as a SORE LOSER. I am a lot of things. I chew out presidents a lot (Bush and Obama), and I say things when my country treats me like dirt, but I am not a traitor to my country. I would never support a coup against my country. Those people who are doing this are not patriots to Egypt, they are traitors to Egypt. That goes for everyone else in the world as well if you prompt a military coup, your a traitor to that country period, thats why we in the United States have banned foreign aid to them. We don’t fund traitors.

    Issue #5: Mr. Moursi was the best outcome for the current makeup of Egypt, short of a gun being forced down every Egyptian throat.

    Our response: President Moursi gained a weak cabinet by electing “diverse” members into his cabinet that were not from his party. In addition he didn’t remove judiciary nominees and he didn’t demand leadership of the arm forces. If it was any other democracy president, thats’ the first thing ANY democracy would demand is that the president had direct control over the armed forces.

    Issue #6: Egyptians are taking to the streets in celebration.

    Our response: The elections of President Moursi party was won by a reasonable margin of 51%. This means 51% of the people are being silenced when there was a fairly large turn out, so those celebrations are a lie (both to themselves and the world itself).

    Issue #7: The 2012 Presidential Election is about communities in the nile v. the entire Egypt itself.

    In otherwords Ahmed Shafiq who won 49% had gained the support of the urban area community by the Nile, these communities are exploding in population, while they have little in resources, the rest of Egypt thought that the brotherhood agenda or plan for the next four years is better than their urban countrymen, that said, the losers of this election have no right to FORCE their cultural and economical agenda, when the President has made a reasonable attempt to include them see (Issue #5), if they want a different outcome than get it three years from now at the ballot box.

    Issue #8: Supporting a coup will more likely weed out moderates from the brotherhood, they won’t incorporate other views, and create more extremism that conflicts with our interest.

    Our response: What’s the Egyptian military endgame? Throw all the leaders in jail? (Perhaps kill all of them, after jailing them all, after all that is the next logical step to take to keep your opponents down). Is it that forever they will rule by the military? Since they will provide no other recourse or a FAKE recourse the Egyptian people will be forced to adopt to extreme views of “jihad”, because that is the only avenue being given to them. Supporters of this coup or people implementing this coup are living in fantasy land if they think that they can control by fear (military) FOREVER, because eventually people in future generations will adopt philosophies that give them liberty, rather it be jihad or something else, and eventually the military itself will refuse to take arms against the people if they haven’t done so already, and all that remains is the falsehood of extremism. Extremism that is a real threat to our interest.

    Here is my suggestive solution to create a bill:

    The Egyptian Bill must contain the following elements:

    The purpose of this bill is as follows: The people of the United States are concerned that a support of un-elected government would lead to creation of more terrorism, like it has been in the past for the United States. The people of the United States have been long standing victims of terrorist and as such it must withdraw it support aid to Egypt until “legitimacy” is restored to Egypt. Our interest is to have less terrorism, where during Murbrack regime far more terrorist were created than during the Brotherhood elected government. As such the position of the people of the United States is that while we want stability in Egypt, our interest demands that legitimacy is implemented first, our leaders were hesitant to take this position in the first place, because they believed that the “Egyptian people” on their own democratic terms could have taken care of the problem, but sadly we now realize that we were mistaken, and as such we withdraw our support to Egypt until the Morsi regime is placed back in to power with full benefits of an Executive Office until 2016, in conjunction to the military as the Vice President. The United States of America recognizes the last week events, and as such will not fund Egypt without seeing a guarantee protection of its’ split opposition.

    ( The bottom paragraph will not be written in our bill, but communicated with the State Department on what we want and to what degree, and what we define as guarantee protection:) Although I am hesitant that the stupid State Department is going to interrupt as a free pass of being stupid.

    Serving at the pleasure of the elected president as a vice president (military) until elections are held in 2016. The President may change a representative of the Army, at his pleasure, but must keep one until the elections of 2016. We will not demand for minority rights or women rights, thats’ a decision that the Egyptian and their culture has to make, not us, but we will use our funds to protect their lives, such as requiring from the President of Egypt that since he lost control to share/ inform some power until 2016.

    A) The United States does not recognize the Egyptian Military as legitimate rulers of Egypt.

    B) The United States recognizes that the Egyptian Military performed a coup and as such if it wish to receive assistance from the United States it must return power to the winners of 2012 election.

    C) The United States does not recognize a new election until 2016.

    D) The United States does not recognize Mounsour as a legitimate power holder in Egypt.

    E) The United States demands a prompt return of power to Morsi, but also demands that safeguards to be placed that would protect the opposition from political and physical backlash.

    F) The United States demands that a new constitution is created in the image of the Egyptian people with the participation of everyone that is supervised by the League of Arab Nations.

    G) In protecting the people, Morsi must adopt a army commander as his Vice President, until the next elections. (That the price Morsi pays for letting the Army run over him) in return the Secret Service of the Egyptian Government must swore loyalty upon the Koran to the Executive Branch.

    H) The United States and the Europeans will not fund the government until these conditions are met.

    The truth may boil down to this: The majority of the people in Egypt in order to avoid corrupt regimes like (Morbrack) would side with having an Islamic government, but truth be told sir, I wouldn’t blame them if they did because you discounted their views, their economical/ social positions, and replaced it AGAIN with the Morbrack regime. In fact it was so bad that you nominated a person a VP that most of his career he was never in Egypt. ( Thanks a lot for placing that kind of spin on us) Making it look like that we are picking your leadership, when its’ in our interest to respect Egypts’ sovereignty, for reasons already discussed.

    What makes me mad about people like you is this respectfully, its’ just why are you shoving your people to entrench themselves towards the NEED of having an islamic government? You should have worked hard and next election beat down the brotherhood not this.

    The best solution is a moderate “Brotherhood”, and hope that you can forgive and forget, and place Morsi back into power until the next election. To me sir, by standards in a democracy Morsi did include the opposition, (even more so than the opposition in the United States has in an elected government). You make the “Brotherhood” adhere to being a moderate by how it was stated, you place standards, and failure to meet those standards results in them not getting anything done or being replaced with people within 4 year time (that is voted on) who can.

    Lastly the economic situation in Egypt will not be solved by aide from aboard, its’ temporary band aid at its’ best, no matter who is in power, and the bureaucrats need to recognize this fact. There may be a way to solve it, but that is outside the scope of this discussion.

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