A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, June 22, 2012

Whatever Happens in Egypt This Weekend, the Delay Has Made Things Worse

 UPDATE: See Michele Dunne's take: "Morsy's Choice: Abdeen or Tora?"

The conflicting rumors about the Egyptian Presidential electoral count that I mentioned earlier continue and I see no point in quoting to them, though certainly many people are convinced that the decision will go to Ahmad Shafiq and that the Muslim Brotherhood and perhaps a broad spectrum of the public will explode in fury.

I have no idea who really won; we may in fact never know. But in an electoral process that, until this week, seemed fairly honest and legitimate (with some obvious exceptions), the authorities have succeeded in convincing virtually everybody that they're cooking the results this time. The official explanation that the results were delayed to recount and address complaints of irregularities sounds suspiciously like they're disqualifying inconvenient results. Maybe that's unfair, but it's hard to imagine a more heavy-handed approach, or one that seems to amount to, "Give us a few more days; we're not done with the ballot boxes yet." If they were going to fix the results, they should have fixed them on the originally announced schedule. This way even if they're playing it straight, no one believes they are. It certainly looks like the most ham-fisted stolen election in history, even if that isn't what happens.

Rami Khouri has a piece on SCAF's major mistakes; but this latest risks the worst of all possible worlds: if the secular parties and the young revolutionaries and the hardline Salafis, none of whom like Morsi (he was even his own party's second choice) believe that Shafiq is a restoration of the old regime, they may form a united front. Most of the gains since February 2011 seem to be slipping away. Tensions are rising and that Economist cover of an erupting pyramid seems increasingly apt.

I may have more posts today, but I'll most likely post over the weekend if we do indeed finally get results. Of course it could still go to Morsi. But if it does, then why the long delays in which much of the country has become convinced it would go to Shafiq?

This past week, SCAF has abandoned pretense of being about to give up power. What it has not done is dispel its impression of incompetence: but now it is a brutal incompetence, no longer a directionless one. Again, a Morsi victory might mean that things are not as dire as they seem: but then, why the delays in announcing the results?

1 comment:

David Mack said...

Somebody is giving Mursi good advice about his public image. It is striking how often he appears with a jacket and a necktie. Quite a contrast to every Iranian leader since the fall of the Shah. The West and Egyptian business community are bound to feel more comfortable seeing someone who would fit right in, visually at least, with Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, another coat and tie wearer.