Saturday, July 6, 2013

Why I say No to the military coup

With no introductions, here is my personal take on the Egyptian recent developments:

Well I disagree with the way they brought Morsi down; if it's going to be a democracy, then let the impeachment be through the voting ballots, not through military coup in a country divided heavily. It is easy to miscalculate what a majority is when we use as references pictures of thousands or millions marching and chanting against the president, but truth be said, millions in a country of 80 million individual is far from statistically meaning anything.

Even if scores of the population went down against Morsi, he still have as many supporting him, and throwing the votes of the millions who voted for the Islamist president down the trash is not only a slap against what democracy is standing for, but is also an open invitation for direct confrontations that can easily escalate into a civil war. Indeed brotherhood failed in dealing with several issues of economic or political nature, but isn’t it the case for most democracies and political governing systems throughout the world? The day an elected government manages to tackle all domestic challenges and successfully address them, then we’d have achieved that utopia no one talks about except in books of fiction. A military take over and mass detentions of Brotherhood figures doesn’t seem to be an achievement of a popular will, but most likely seems to be a rushed reaction to deal with an uneasy transition, and most likely to cause an even greater crisis given the stigmatization it has brought against Political Islamism and the alienation of a segment of the population’s will or political choice.

Some may argue that the political environment, as well as the judicial and institutional realities of Egypt may have prevented a democratic action to impeach the president or to bring on early elections, but let us remember that the Egyptian people were the ones voting for Morsi in the first place, and the ones taking on their disapproval to the street didn’t allow the president elect a fair period at the helm of the government to actually produce results. One year is not enough to judge a president (that is why in most democracies presidential terms span through 3 to 5 years), especially someone who took office after a revolution, an economy in the red and security in jeopardy.
Egyptians may have set the bar too high, and it's impossible for a president or a government to fix everything an entire chaotic country the first months, Transitions are hard and demanding, but Egyptians appear to forget that the nation is gathering itself out of a regime meltdown and is in a re-evaluation phase where all principles of governance and political institutions are put under scrutiny and reconstruction.

Maybe the Muslim brotherhood is not that good in many respects, but the reality is that they are the most organized and they won the elections. If the Egyptians are against them, then let them show it through political parties and political participation;
The best way to oppose some political or ideological organization in a democracy is to organize and face them in the battlefield, aka the elections; making a mess, encouraging anarchy or getting the military involved never solves anything but just brings the country to the brinks of a civil war.

Many you argue with tend to delegitimize the popularity of the Muslim Brotherhood by invoking that their supporters are mostly residents of rural areas and are not fully aware of the Brotherhood’s lack of good governance and whatnot, yet this argument seems closes to a self-condemnation because the very people who preach it disregard an important question: If the rural areas are so blinded into voting for the devil himself, then why didn’t the previous regime or the numerous NGOs set a comprehensive framework to spread awareness to rural areas or improve their living conditions as to draw them away from the Brotherhood’s grip? It is easy to point fingers, find excuses, and fall into a state of arrogance where we categorize a segment of the population as worthy of the right to choose their political representatives while denying it to others.

What is alarming in the current Egyptian crisis is the far reaching implications it has on the MENA region and the Sahel. Political Islam has always been stigmatized because of its tendency to promote violence and preach a bloody agenda of extremism, ultra-conservatism and anti-human rights policies, yet when the Political Islam renounced violence in the post Arab Spring through the participation of Islamist factions in the political life (something they have been banned from doing), the reaction from the street and from a certain segment of the population has been outright rejection of their legitimacy and reactionary refusal of an agenda they didn’t even have the chance to assess because of the many prejudices held against it.

Political Islam now is being given another excuse to lose hope in democracy and democratic tools of participation. The rule of law, although preached and professed to be for everyone now appears to be an exclusive right of the secular, the liberal and is forbidden for Islamist models of rule. This leaves no other means for the Islamist to voice their opinions and shape politics other than through violence, which is why the West, championed by the US is reluctant on approving of the military’s move given the disastrous implications it can set in motion in the future.

After Algeria and Palestine, Egypt joins the club of countries where the military unlawfully deposed a democratically elected government shaped by Political Islamist agendas, and the consequences as in these nations is a return of extremist violence, something which we already started witnessing in the Sinai where armed operations against the military are being conducted by Islamist factions.

Closing TV channels to prevent the Brotherhood from decrying the military takeover, rounding up their key figures and claiming that major cities are the only representative of the Egyptian will stems from a fear that Political Islam may become the key force driving politics and Egyptian domestic affairs, a turn event that is far from making the strongholds of corruption happy, and is sure to threaten the economic empire of the military as it did in Turkey with the AKP.

Egypt is in a turning point, and much of the region’s future development will be shaped by what actions are set in action in Egypt during the crisis. Be it a civil war, a return to armed confrontations, a radicalization of the Muslim brotherhood and its operations or a return to civilian rule through the restoration of the president elect are all potential outcomes that can either build or break modern Egyptian democracy, or at least the nation’s stability and security.

Mohamed Amine Belarbi