Wednesday,19 December, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1209, (14 - 20 August 2014)
Wednesday,19 December, 2018
Issue 1209, (14 - 20 August 2014)

Ahram Weekly

Moving abroad

What is the Egyptian Revolutionary Council? Ahmed Morsy looks for answers


Al-Ahram Weekly

Only days before the one-year anniversary of the break-up of the Rabaa and Nahda sit-ins, a new opposition group has announced its formation from its base in Turkey.

The Egyptian Revolutionary Council (ERC) held its first press conference on Friday in Istanbul. The group claims it is “resisting the 3 July military coup” and battling for the “bread, freedom, social justice and dignity” that was the rallying cry of the 25 January Revolution.

Speaking in the Turkish capital, the ERC said it is “an entity for Egyptian forces and individuals abroad … who maintain the principles of the 25 January Revolution, are faithful to constitutional legitimacy, seek a civil state and oppose all forms of corruption, tyranny and the military coup and its consequences.”

Turkey’s newly elected President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been a vocal critic of Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi. Erdogan was a prominent supporter of the one-year rule of the Mohamed Morsi and protested his removal.

The ERC listed its goals as “uniting all revolutionary forces and youth, mobilising international support, realising the 25 January Revolution’s aims, dismantling corrupt institutions and establishing equal citizenship, justice, freedom and human dignity.”

The group called on foreign states to support the council against Egypt’s “military-backed government.”

The ERC appeared on the scene a week ahead of the first anniversary of the dispersal of Islamist protest camps in Rabaa Al-Adaweya and Al-Nahda Squares. Its avowed aims are almost identical to those of the National Coalition to Support Legitimacy (NCSL), the group of Brotherhood sympathisers that has been leading calls for Morsi to be reinstated as president.

“The ERC is not a replacement for the NCSL,” ERC spokesperson Maha Azzam told Qatari-based Al-Jazeera Mubasher. The NCSL operates in Egypt, while the ERC will address the international community. According to Azzam, Muslim Brothers comprise less than 20 per cent of the ERC’s members.

She said the group may take the lead in trying to refer members of the current regime to the International Criminal Court.

The ERC will not add anything new, political analyst Hassan Nafaa told Al-Ahram Weekly. “Its impact will be negligible. It doesn’t include any political forces apart from existing members of the NCSL.”

According to Nafaa, the ERC, in its self-appointed role, is unlikely to have much success drawing international attention.

“International organisations and foreign states aren’t going to shape their positions towards Egypt based on information provided by the ERC,” he said. “Its influence abroad will be minimal. It’s not going to alter the international community’s notion of what is going on in Egypt.”

The NCSL, meanwhile, welcomed the appearance of the new group. In a statement released Friday it said any attempt to promote the goals of the Egyptian revolution and oppose the military coup must be encouraged.

ERC members include Islamist Asalaa Party leader Ehab Sheeha, former MP Tharwat Nafae, journalist Ayat Al-Orabi, rights activist Niveen Malak, former minister of informationSalah Abdel-Maksoud, former Shura Council member Gamal Heshmat, and spokesman for the Judges for Egypt group Waleed Sharabi.

It was noted, however, that several prominent critics of the current regime are not involved in the ERC. These include the founder of the Liberal Ghad Al-Thawra Party Ayman Nour and Al-Wasat Party leaders Mohamed Mahsoub and Hatem Azzam.

Another ERC spokesperson, Mohamed Sherif Kamel, claimed the council was seeking to unite “all revolutionary forces opposed to the military regime” in Cairo.

“Revolutionary and national forces … are capable of confronting the bloody terrorist coup which stole the revolution, killed and imprisoned our people, sold our country, spread destruction and fear throughout the land and kidnapped Morsi,” said Kamel.

“The council will help sustain and support the popular movement in Egypt against the coup,” argued fugitive Islamist leader Tarek Al-Zomor, head of the Al- Gamaa Al-Islamiya’s Building and Development Party. “It announces to the world that Egyptians, even those abroad, refuse to succumb to the rule of the tank.”

Former MP Mohamed Abu Hamed dismissed the ERC as yet another front for the Muslim Brotherhood’s international wing. “The Brotherhood’s international organisation, aided by Turkey, is trying to exert pressure on the Egyptian state and the ERC is just a tool in this doomed strategy,” he wrote on his Twitter account.

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