What went wrong in Egypt?

Empowering Weak & Oppressed

Ayman Ahmed

Ramadan 23, 1434 2013-08-01

Main Stories

by Ayman Ahmed (Main Stories, Crescent International Vol. 42, No. 6, Ramadan, 1434)

The July 3 coup in Egypt has set the people of Egypt back by many decades. The brutal crackdown on supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and mass killings prove the military’s evil intentions.

Whether one supports or opposes ousted President Mohamed Mursi, the military coup early last month has set the people of Egypt back by many years, perhaps decades. Like every military strongman, the new Egyptian dictator — and that is what he is even if he put up Adly Mansour from the judiciary as a front man to act as “interim leader” — General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi claimed he will implement his own “roadmap” to bring about “democracy” in Egypt. Dictators have always spoken fondly of “democracy.” It is possible to maintain such a ludicrous stand because democracy is all things to all people.

The more serious question is, on what authority, apart from the barrel of the gun, does al-Sisi claim the right to implement his own roadmap? By abrogating the constitution — al-Sisi called it “temporary suspension” — the military has once again assumed direct control of political affairs in Egypt. It had never really left the scene even when Mursi was in power but now it has come back to take charge directly. Al-Sisi’s 48-hour ultimatum to Mursi to sort out his problems with the opposition or he would impose his own “roadmap” was designed to fail. The opposition refused to talk to Mursi. Instead of going after the opposition, the military threw Mursi out of office.

This was the plan all along. The Egyptian military has thus proved even more impatient than their Pakistani counterparts that have allowed the civilians to take blame for the mess they (the military) create. Those that celebrated Mursi’s ouster in Tahrir Square will regret it as days roll by.

The list of Mursi’s mistakes, and these will be recounted later, is long although not everything that went wrong in Egypt over the last two years can be laid at his doorstep. There was a well conceived and executed plan by the deep state to ensure Mursi’s failure. Even the New York Times’ Ben Hubbard and David D. Kirkpatrick admitted as much in their article on July 10. “…Since the military ousted President Mohamed Morsi, life has somehow gotten better for many people across Egypt: gas lines have disappeared, power cuts have stopped and the police have returned to the street.” They went on: “The apparently miraculous end to the crippling energy shortages, and the re-emergence of the police, seems to show that the legions of personnel left in place after former President Hosni Mubarak was ousted in 2011 played a significant role — intentionally or not — in undermining the overall quality of life under the Islamist administration of Mr. Morsi.”

On his part, Mursi had not only shown poor judgment but also indulged in some pretty poor conduct, not the least of which was his kowtowing to the worst kind of sectarian bigots. But what has happened in Egypt as a result of the coup in equally disturbing. The men in khaki immediately went about making wholesale arrests of leaders of al-Ikhwan al-Muslimoon (Muslim Brotherhood). If the coup’s purpose, as stated by General al-Sisi, was to act as a temporary measure toward holding elections, why arrest a large number of Brotherhood leaders and cadre as well as kill them? Even the group’s former murshid Mehdi Akif has been arrested. Some, including Mursi may also face charges. And their bank accounts have been frozen. These do not sound or look like “temporary measures.”

“In the space of one night we are back 60 years,” said Amr Darrag, a senior Muslim Brotherhood member and former minister for international co-operation. “All of our leaders are being arrested in the middle of the night. Their houses are being stormed. Their children are being scared. All of our remaining leaders are banned from travel and this is just the start. Yesterday [July 3] we were part of the government doing what we thought was best for Egypt. Even if you don’t agree with us, this has gone too far,” he said a day after the coup.

Pro-Mursi supporters have continued street vigils even under the barrage of military bullets. Hundreds of people have been killed in different parts of the country with the largest massacre occurring on July 8 outside the Republican Guards headquarters when security forces opened fire killing 103, among them eight women and four children, according to Mukhtar Ashri, Chairman of the Freedom and Justice Party’s (FJP) Legal Committee. He also revealed during a July 17 conference in Nasr City organized by the Federation of Egyptian Trade Unions that the number of injured had exceeded 2000 (2011 to be precise), while 652 Mursi supporters had been detained. They were taken to 14 police stations across Cairo and that at least 25 were brutally tortured in the Shubra police department alone.

Did Mursi fail in fulfilling his responsibilities as leader of all Egyptians? The answer is both yes and no. Let us deal with why he did not fail. He was not free to act because he was not really in control of the various organs of state. These were dominated by remnants of the old regime that were determined to frustrate his plans to stabilize the Egyptian economy and bring some semblance of order in society. Baltagiya (thugs) hired by the entrenched remnants were let loose on innocent Egyptians. Entire neighbourhoods were turned into war zones with the police and other security forces refusing to provide protection. This was deliberate. The fulool (remnants of the old regime), wanted to turn people against Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood; they succeeded admirably with help from the interior ministry, the police, the judiciary as well as businessmen that all operated under direct instructions from the military.

Mursi’s opponents blamed him for not improving the economy but as Hubbard and Kirkpatrick have pointed out in their New York Times article, fuel and food shortages were deliberately created to cause maximum discomfort for people. The endless rounds of protests kept tourists away from the country further undermining the economy. Tourists are not the bravest of people in the world; they want to have fun, not face howling mobs of angry and hungry men. Why should they come to an Egypt in turmoil when they could go some place a lot more peaceful? Besides, the media, still dominated by Mubarak-era cronies, created an environment of uncertainty by playing on people’s fears and by spreading rumors. Mursi and his supportive media could not compete with this onslaught.

The internal battle was supported and directed from abroad by the United States behind which operates the hand of Zionists. The US’ Arabian clients — Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait and Qatar (yes, Qatar as well, despite claiming to be supporting Mursi and the Brotherhood) — all conspired to undermine Mursi. They did so by withholding crucial financial support that was immediately handed over to the military-installed government upon Mursi’s dismissal. Billions of dollars poured into the Egyptian Central Bank within a couple of days of his overthrow.

Where Mursi and his Brotherhood colleagues failed, and failed badly, is in their judgment. They showed an incredible degree of naivety by assuming that if they gave a free hand to the military, the latter would allow them to rule unhindered. Mursi also committed a serious strategic blunder by aligning himself and his government with the Salafis hoping this would give him some space vis-à-vis the fulool onslaught. The Salafis betrayed him the moment the military struck; they joined the military rather than standing up with their political allies. The Salafis are competing for the same constituency and it is unrealistic to have assumed that they would come to the Brotherhood’s rescue.

Even Mursi’s joining the sectarian war — a destructive approach that has serious repercussions for the future of the Ummah — did not save his skin. The Saudis did not help him; why should they? They take orders from the US. Besides, the Saudis were very upset with the US for allowing the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in February 2011. They felt an important pillar of the US imperial order in the Muslim East had been demolished, thereby exposing the Saudis to great danger. They need not have spent sleepless nights; the Washington warlords were not going to allow the Brotherhood to remain in power for too long regardless of how much they surrendered to Zionist or American interests. Acquiescing to the army’s blowing up of tunnels, under US-Zionist pressure, that were used for smuggling desperately needed food and other items of necessities from Egypt into Gaza, Mursi thought it would gain him some political space. How naive!

Mursi was fighting on a number of fronts simultaneously and he thought he could outsmart the military and their imperialist-Zionist masters. His reliance on the very institutions that were created to support and maintain the old order displayed an incredible degree of simplicity for which Mursi and the Brotherhood have paid a heavy price.

What Mursi’s plight shows yet again is that elections are not the route to establish an Islamic state, even a mild version of it. The secularists and their Western and Zionist masters will not allow any such development. The Brotherhood did not learn from the Algerian experience and they certainly did not take any notice of the successful model presented by Imam Khomeini and how he guided the Islamic movement in Iran to victory against the US-backed tyranny of the Shah in 1979. Perhaps their sectarian blinkers prevented them from seeing the reality. They have and will continue to pay a very high price for such simplistic thinking.

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