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Is Egypt Looking for its Next Pharaoh? – by A Z

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While I may support liberal ideas and politics and be dead against all forms of theocracy, I have no choice but to call a spade a spade; it just is what is. July 3, 2013 was no different from the grain of Egyptian history and it amounts to most significant subversion of democracy, sabotage of constitution, and the exploitation of power by the Egyptian Army. It is not the first time Egypt has experienced this but it is totally out of sync with the modern times. It is true that Egypt gave Morsi a year to prove that he would govern for all Egyptians as he promised but he failed. He ran a government that acted outside the law in its hasty quest to impose upon Egypt their sole vision of a state governed by theocratic principles – a government that was taking on the form of tyranny. However, unless the Army acts with great restraint and steps away from the political arena as soon as possible, history will gloss over Morsi and Muslims Brotherhood’s incompetence and will judge the power-drunken politically motivated generals harshly.

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I will admit, I began to toy with the idea that Egypt had turned over a new leaf, that its politicians were indeed reasonable men and that they had actually traded in propagandistic diatribe for political maturity. And then, all in a matter of a few days, those calling the shots for the demonstrations and their foreign backers showed their true nature. Egypt’s is far from being politically mature and authoritatively responsible. Rather than use their authoritative position as a tool to encourage meaningful change in the furtherance of a more democratic Egypt through negotiation and accommodation between the government and the opposition, the Army has now embarked on a vengeful course of unjustifiable retribution against a democratically elected government. What a disgrace!

The answer is simple: their justification is a farce, nothing more than a mere pretext for purposeful and deliberate meddling in the process of fledgling democracy in Egypt. We all know what our armies are capable of when they set out to subvert and undermine democratic political forces. Why all Muslim armies continue to be embarrassments to our political heritage and history? If the army does not retract soon, it will not end here. It will get worse.

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Embedding pluralism in a society is an arduous and a winding process that requires tolerance and patience till the political power in the society becomes truly dispersed and the citizenry can make choices freely. It does not happen overnight. This crude subversion of democracy in Egypt ought to have been met with a firm response from the outside world. But Gulf Arab countries have applauded the coup in the hope of it benefiting their ideological allies and West has chosen to sit on the fence. Supporting the Army in the longer run will be another grossly short-sighted behaviour by Washington in a blighted region.

No great civilization that still captures our imaginations continues to speak to us like that of ancient Egypt. But this is the time for Egypt to stumble forth on the path to pluralism instead of looking for its next Pharaoh.

 

About the author

Asif Zaidi

19 Comments

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  • A spade is spade and a snake is a snake. Institutionalized Islam is terrible, be it Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Islamic Republic of Iran, Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, Sudan or near-Deboandi Republic of Turkey. Army did not intervene out of blue. Millions came out in Egypt against Ikhwan-Salafi alliance. Excesses of Morsi regime against minorities should not be forgotten.
    KSA and Gulf regimes are happy because brotherhood wanted to replace their rule by “political Islam” not be scientific socialism — a choice between cancer and AIDS — not a good choice for any one.
    Western model is perhaps the best, but Islamic societies can’t embrace it, until and unless their minds are ready to accept separation between religion and state — this is a pre-condition. There is no easy solution for the Muslim world. And finally I am not disagreeing with you, but how to embed pluralism in societies that believe: 1 man = 2 women (in common sense); DNA is an evil; a potential rape victim has to arrange 4 acceptable spectator male witnesses prior to rape; my holy faith is superior than other holy faiths; and their “God” says kill their men, women and children (children note it).

    • I totally agree with you. I think the Western system is the best among all yet tried. I am against the religion’s meddling in statecraft. I also agree that Morsi made a lot of mistakes. One correction though, Salafis had no alliance with Morsi. Even though Morsi changed his discourse on Syria lately but it was too late to placate Salafis.
      I am against all army intervention everywhere and would like to see all usurpers in pakistan from ayub to musharaf tried and punished.
      So, army should have stayed aside. the people on both sides were holding aloft the same flag and it should have no place for Khaki.
      what good was the revolution when the acting president is a third class acolyte of Hosni mubarak who never took a vote.
      I would however draw your attention to a couple of critical factors that have played a key role in this action by the Egyptian Army most noticeably the direct and indirect financial and moral support provided by the House of Saud and their allies and patrons to the Egyptian Army and their minions including Mr Albardei and his so called liberals on one hand and the salafist brigades running amok on the other. I am pretty sure that one of Mursi’s key sins in the eyes of Washington and the wahhabis was the gradual softening of relations with the Iran. For the past couple of months one could clearly discern the wahabbi propaganda machine going into overdrive with plot after plot being discovered in UAE, Saudi etc. Another dynamic is the recent change of leadership in Qatar who was the largest supporter and benefactor of Mursi. You may have noticed the complete change of guard including the (forced?) abdication of the Emir and the dismissal of the ex PM (HBJ) who was the principal architect of the Qatar foreign policy….the new Emir is considered to be very close to the House of Saud!
      Just a few variables in this fast changing region.

      • I thought Salafist Al-nour party was in alliance with Ikhwan, but admit haven’t done a reading on it. I buy your watch of intra-biogt developments —- very fast developments. But one positive aspect: The Wahabi-Slafai-Ikhwan-Royals unity is broken. Ikhwans are very tough survivors and fighters. Nice to see them at each others throats. After all they are all poisonous snakes.

      • Agreed. Brotherhood can give salafists a run for their money. But will have financial disadvantage.

  • To help Morsi, I asked Israel to double its staff in its Embassy in Cairo. But instead of consolidating power like Erdogan (I also ordered Israel to double its Embassy staff in Turkey), he prematurely started killing Christians and Rafidah and started implementing my version of Islam. Consequently, he has been kicked out after one year. Morsi has disappointed me, Goof!

  • Dear Asif,
    I beg to disagree with your analysis on Egypt and tend to side with Asli Kafir. Islamic societies are not ready for Western style democracy because Muslims are not completely convinced that their salvation will come through the establishment of a democratic republic. Muslim masses have been brain washed by fundamentalist propaganda over the last 30 years, not to mention some basic unsettled issues such as the separation of the Religion and the State. Therefore, it is not realistic to expect that a clumsy process of democratization will result in stable democratic states, on the lines of most of the Eastern European countries, after the fall of the Soviet Union. The only Muslim country that has a history of limited democracy is Turkey and even there, the Western style Republic was ushered in by the military that has remained the sole guarantor of the system. In the recent history of the Arab world, democratic process was halted in Algeria and it resulted in a bloody insurgency that lasted several years and costed thousands of lives. We have the same danger now looming in Egypt but there are some differences too between the two situations: There is a strong secular movement representing millions of Egyptians that has been fighting against the power-grabbing tactics of the MB. They may gain an upper hand in the current scenario and may be able to reform the constitution in such a manner that the fundamentalist forces would not be able to transform the country into a theocratic state. So, yes, it is not going to be easy but Egypt is going through a genuine revolution. It is not over yet. The dismissal of Morsi may represent a setback in terms of conventional implementation of democracy but in the larger scheme of things, it does offer a certain hope for a more inclusive and tolerant political system in the future.

    • Rizwan Bhai, you know I am not a Morsi supporter. I am anti-religious politics.
      I am against Army Intervention.
      Muslims have to start somewhere no matter how painful the process.
      Subverting the process only strengthens political Islam.
      Egypt had a fledgling democracy with absolutely no roots. The constitution was passed only a few days ago.
      In Egypt the Deep State is much stronger than people outside can imagine. It has 60 years of tyranny and rule behind it.
      Zia ruled Pakistan only for 11 years and how the Deep State had the politicians and Public opinion at its mercy after his death and no politician could survive.
      Even today in Pakistan nobody mobilises the masses better than the Deep State.
      Egypt does not even have a parliament that can back the President. The parliament was disbanded with a sinister motive.
      Chavez had the money to buy populist loyalty. So did Ahmedinejad. Erdogan’s economic feats are known to all.
      Egypt’s economy is in doldrums and is in fact the main reason for discontentment.
      In Presidential elections Muslim Brotherhood were the forerunner and their main candidate was disqualified with purpose on a flimsy pretext. Morsi was never the presidential material.
      Egypt’s Deep State is up to a game at behest of their masters that will become apparent to us after some time.
      Very simply, if dismissing a liberal and secular democratic government (a la Mosadegh) is wrong then denying Islamists their democratic rights (a la Algeria and Egypt) is also wrong.
      Hence, I am against the Army intervention.
      If you are for it, we will exchange notes after due course of time.
      I was right in Musharaf’s instance and will gladly accept I was wrong if Egypt’s army ends up actually consolidating democracy and freedom.

  • Iran can play a big positive role in the Middle East against world-wide Whabi offensive by reducing hostilities with the West and Israel. I have some but not much hopes from Rouhani. Irani policies are one of the factors contributing to Asia-wide Shia genocide. But the leadership there good heavens good heaven.

    • Iran has been squarely responsible for the Shias’ misery and endearing Saudi Arabia to the West. It is a totalitarian regime that prioritizes its own survival and hegemony above all other considerations.
      I am not too optimistic about Rouhani though he may be a significant improvement on the eccentric Ahmedinejad.
      Iran’s Deep State (theocratic elite and Pasdaraan) is also transported by its own ideological and strategic notions like our ISI and establishment.
      The quid pro quo for cosying up the West is the relent at home, which they are not likely to do. Hence, I do not have much hope though would like to see it happening.
      The best moment to make this transition, with least disruption, was when the US conquered Iraq. But Mullahs floundered that historical opportunity.

  • AZ,
    I wonder if you write a simple worded explanatory article on growing chaos among Arab islamists and royals (Ikhwan vs. Wahabi-Salafis and Ikhwan vs Ale-Saud-UAE-Qatar etc.). Thanks.

    • Will do when the situation settles down a bit.
      For the moment Salafists are in the ascendency, the rest is hogwash.
      I count myself an agnostic and evolutionist/Darwinist. But those religious Shias (not you) who cannot coexist with MB can forget about coexistence with religious Sunnis.
      Hasan al Banna, Abdu, Ghazali (the Egyptian), Qutb are all on record having declared Shias as Muslims.
      Salafis didn’t like MB’s strong reaction in the wake of Shias’ killing at their hand.
      Shias in Egypt were a lot more persecuted in Mubarak’s final years.

      To say, as some do, that MB and Salafis are the same is vague. Yes, they are a face of political Islam as is Iran. For me they are all bad.
      But the reality also remains that MB is the face of Sunni political Islam, which is fast on wane. Their demise will not eliminate political Islam. More radical forms will thrive by natural selection abetted by favourable geopolitics and economics.
      If MB and Salafis were not different, Ghazali and Qutb would not have been ostracized and harassed by the Wahabbis.

  • I agree. Ikhwans and Jammat-e-Islami are near-clones. Both are fundos but not sectarian. Salafists are real danger like their Tkafiri Deobandi brothers in Pakistan. USA does not like Salafis, but tend to downplay them (thanks Iranian rhetoric). Iran can help alter US priorities, but regime there is extremely myopic.

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