A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Army Has Moved. Now What Happens?

I'm hearing and seeing a lot of Egyptians saying that the Army intervention is not a coup because the people had demanded it; that may not be entirely untrue given that there was no constitutional mechanism in place to remove Morsi from office, and that arguably the rammed-through constitution and Morsi's other actions can hardly be called democratic. And, to be sure, the Armed Forecs were clever in having the Sheikh al-Azhar present to give religious sanction to the move, the Coptic Pope to reassure minorities, and opposition politicians young and old, including Mohamed ElBaradei, on stage to confer — to use Morsi's own favorite word last night — legitimacy.

That's the good news. The Army's "road map" could be a reasonable way to move quickly to new elections, but the first couple of hours since the announcement have not been promising, though you wouldn't know it from the celebrations in Tahrir Square. First, Morsi and the Brotherhood have rejected the road map and called on Egyptians to reject it, though they have urged against using violence. Though many have argued that concerns about a reaction like that in Algeria in 1992 do not apply here, I'm not entirely sure about that.

And, though General Sisi pledged to respect freedom of press and expression, there are reports that the Brotherhood's television station has already been closed down. The Brotherhood have shown their own contempt towards opposition media, but closing down stations is not an optimistic sign.

Egypt was in a mess, a deepening economic disaster and a political deadlock. The Army's road map may be one way out of it, but I fear that the Army's instincts may not be as liberal as some of those who called on them to intervene.

Although we are on the brink of a four-day weekend in celebration of the Fourth of July, I'm pretty sure I'll be saying a lot more about this.

4 comments:

Ishrat Saleem said...

We have seen this happening over and over again in Pakistan. The army always came with 'altruistic' motives on 'public' demand, and then stayed on for several years by installing a pseudo-democratic government. I know some Pakistanis who are celebrating this, but to me this sounds very ominous bells.

freude bud said...

Looking forward to your further comments.

Anonymous said...

rcbusiFolks are generally for democracy until the guy they don't support wins.

Then it's not democracy.

It's sort of like the US's foreign policy attitude.

A country isn't truly free until it elects a government that suppports the US position.

David Mack said...

Assuming the best of intentions, the army will find it very hard to deal with Egypt's urgent economic problems and to come up with a road map that leads to more capable civilian government than the incompetent Mursi government. Opposition leaders to not inspire much confidence, given their failure to organize themselves for the elections. Governing Egypt requires lots more than putting activists into the streets and charming the foreign media.