Wednesday,26 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1153, 20 - 26 June 2013
Wednesday,26 September, 2018
Issue 1153, 20 - 26 June 2013

Ahram Weekly

Countdown to crisis

Nationwide protests planned for 30 June in Egypt will be historic, whatever their result, writes Ahmed El-Tonsi

Al-Ahram Weekly

Many Egyptian youth have chosen 30 June as a date for expressing their escalating resentment towards the Muslim Brotherhood and its ruling regime. The Tamarod (Rebel) movement has taken seriously the day’s arrangements while the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters are preparing countervailing contingency plans. Inevitably the confrontation between the clinically dead regime of the Muslim Brotherhood and the youth of Egypt will happen. The long-awaited and historic event has many possible implications related to its major actors, its historical context, as well as its regional and even global ramifications. Some implications pertain to present facts while others relate to a future political landscape that is being formed between the event, its significance and actors, on the one hand, and political realities existing since the January 2011 Revolution.

First, any popular uprising on 30 June should not be seen as an isolated event but rather the culmination of popular resentment expressed in many instances of mass protest. Anger against the regime’s misrule of Egypt has been identifiably on the rise since Mohamed Morsi’s ill-fated constitutional declaration of 22 November 2012. It can be argued that relentlessly growing rejection, not simply “opposition”, to Muslim Brotherhood rule started before Morsi took the presidential seat. In other words, trouble has long been fermenting and it should not only be linked to the poor performance of the presidency.

For example, the famous document drafted by Ali Al-Selmi and endorsed by the vast majority of political forces at the time, as well as the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), was tailored to act proactively against the success of Islamists in that year’s legislative elections. Stipulating supra-constitutional principles in the draft document was geared to offer the military a role in obstructing any attempt to change the identity of the state. Similarly, the disbanding of the People’s Assembly by the Supreme Constitutional Court passed unremarked except by the Brotherhood and its dominant parliamentary majority. Even the narrow win of Morsi should be seen as a clear example of the growing rejection of Brotherhood rule.

Many have incorrectly cited examples of narrow victory in electoral contests in France and the US while disregarding the basic dissimilarities between a recently democratised Egypt and well-established Western liberal democracies. In fact, such a narrow majority can be partially attributed to a fact that half of the voters had their own concerns about the Islamists, their approach in power and their future under the established state. In other words, those who voted against Morsi implicitly preferred a civil state with no religious overtones and accordingly could not tolerate the Muslim Brotherhood reaching the peak of the new state. Morsi’s narrow majority coupled with regime missteps eventually left him and the regime all but isolated, save from his own constituency of Brotherhood members and sympathisers. The popular uprising of December 2012 against the constitutional declaration marked the opening of a new phase of protest against the regime, to which it responded savagely.

Second, identifying 30/6 as the climax of popular rejection allows us to see how dissent has gradually escalated across an increasing number of sectors. Put differently, the argument claimed by Morsi’s supporters that one year of his rule is not enough upon which to judge his performance cannot stand against the dismal record of the Brotherhood in the aftermath of the revolution. Morsi’s rule has been just one phase of the Brotherhood’s dominant role throughout the transition period. Capitalising on the limited political experience of SCAF, the Brotherhood consciously and maliciously directed the path and pace of the transitional period towards achieving its own interests. In effect, the Brotherhood continued its pursuit of state domination after its success in the presidential elections. Morsi’s rule has been but an act in the stage play of opportunistic self-aggrandisement on behalf of the Brotherhood. Many sectors within the citizenry have finally realised that the Brotherhood and its superstructures — the party, legislative assemblies and the presidency — have abused the revolution to serve the group’s own interests that conflict with those of Egypt and Egyptians. This is in the DNA of the Brotherhood and has been guiding its ebbs and flows, its clandestine work as well as its formal presence in the Egyptian state.

Third, the Syrian crisis or tragedy is a clear illustration of the conflict of interest between Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood as a transnational association. Egypt should be part of the solution, not taking sides. In 1961, hours after the Baathist coup that ended the Egyptian-Syrian union, Nasser refused sending Egyptian troops to restore the political status quo ante despite calls from many Syrians. In 2013, Egypt’s ruling Muslim Brotherhood regime, so occupied with settling out its own historic vendetta with the Al-Assad regime, has been offering its support to Islamic mujaheddin who have been fighting their own battle, not that of the Free Army of Syria or even the Syrian people.

Fourth, the upcoming event has been innovatively prepared by the Egyptian youth and accordingly it has represented the second wave of their revolution. Obviously, the vanguard of the youth represented by Tamarod movement have been joined by the masses, forming the critical mass essential to upgrading a protest to a revolutionary act or wave. The second wave or stage of a given revolution almost always sees the emergence of more radical elements that drive moderates from power. By “radical elements” it is meant that the wave’s leaders are much more committed to the achievement of the parent revolution’s objectives. So far, the Tamarod movement has behaved as a unitary leadership that has successfully galvanised large sections of the masses and elites — an achievement that nobody could have expected. In a few weeks, the movement amassed millions of citizens sharing one objective: holding early elections. No less radical has been the Tamarod campaign leadership’s tenacity in pursuing its objective through direct grassroots communication with the masses. In January 2011, the revolution’s vanguard effectively utilised social media to mobilise its supporters, whom were later followed by the masses. The Tamarod movement, on the other hand, has been a popular move from day one, and it has been gaining momentum as a truly effective, working political force on the ground.

Fifth, at stake will be the eternal political question of the role of religion in state and society. By political question it is meant that all the games and manoeuvres of the Islamists, to irresponsibly shift this political issue to religious jihad, have failed. Within the same context, 30 June is a political event, not a fitna as many Islamists have been describing. Unleashing the energies of such fundamentalists, history and the people will hold Morsi personally accountable for any blood shed.


The writer is a politicl analyst.

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