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Egypt Military Is Just Repeating Past Mistakes

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Seyed Hossein Mousavi
President of Center for Scientific Research and Middle East Strategic Studies

Many political observers and thinkers in the third millennium have argued that in an era of information explosion and with the relentless spread of democracy throughout the world, and also after the termination of the Cold War and the fall of the former Soviet Union, the time for a phenomenon known as military coups in the Third World countries is over and military personnel should go back to their barracks. Early signs that indicated the dawn of a new era confirmed the wholesomeness of this theory because [since the beginning of the third millennium] there were few countries, if any, where the army had taken action to topple the ruling government and give the power to the military. However, it didn’t take long before a military coup d’état was staged in one of the world’s most ancient countries, that is, Egypt. The coup d’état was headed by chief of the country’s army, General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who staged the coup a short while after the country’s first elected government took office. Since the 1950s, the Egyptian army has played a very important role in the political life of the country and has actually given birth to all the Egyptian governments since [the former Egyptian president,] Gamal Abdel Nasser staged a coup.

Both [former Egyptian presidents] Anwar Sadat and [his successor] Hosni Mubarak were products of the country’s military institution. Military was the first institution that promoted the model of national governments in Arab countries of the Middle East following the end of the World War II, but that model did not last long. As a result, and as we have already seen, Egypt became the scene of a popular uprising at the beginning of the second decade of the third millennium, which culminated into a widespread and peaceful revolution against the rule of the military. Following the victory of the Egyptian revolution on January 22, 2011, the country rapidly held a referendum on the new constitution, which was followed by parliamentary elections. Later on, the first presidential election that the country experienced under totally democratic conditions was held as a result of which the Islamist figures affiliated with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood came to power. The country’s army, at first, apparently got along with those speedy developments so that many political theorists reached the conclusion that the Egyptian army will exactly do the same that the Portuguese army did in the 1970s and will cede the power to a non-military and elected government.

However, this did not happen in Egypt and the country’s army actually encouraged people to pour into the streets again and resume anti-government insurgency. In doing this, the Egyptian army resorted to all kinds of machinations including creating frequent crises in the Sinai Desert, big industries cities, and the capital city of Cairo. As put by Egyptians, they tried to “demonize” the image of the Islamist forces by any means, including by taking advantage of all the media that were affiliated to the previous regime of Hosni Mubarak. Finally, the Egyptian army managed to overthrow Mohamed Morsi, the first domestically elected president of Egypt on July 3, 2013, and replace it with a new government under the control of the military. They subsequently changed the constitution of Egypt rapidly, brought a few months of rallies by the Muslim Brotherhood’s supporters at Al-Nahda and Rabaa Al-Adawiya squares of Cairo to a bloody end, declared emergency state across the country and, finally, issued a decree announcing the Muslim Brotherhood an outlawed and terrorist group after which all the leading figures of the Muslim Brotherhood were sent to prison. At present, Egypt is going through its presidential election. There are no more than two candidates in the forthcoming election. General el-Sisi, the main protagonist behind July 3, 2013, coup d’état, stands on one side, while Hamdeen Sabahi, the candidate of nationalist forces and a Nasserite politician, on the other side. During the past few days, expatriate Egyptians living in 124 countries, whose total number has been given at 318,000, have taken part in the presidential polls.

According to figures, General el-Sisi has won more than 90 percent of the votes of Egyptians living in other countries. If taken as a criterion for judgment about the election results within the country, there will be no doubt that General el-Sisi will be ahead of his rival candidate with a wide margin and will enter the presidential palace as the new president of Egypt. Now, we must wait and see whether Egypt is in for repeating the experience of the past century, or General el-Sisi will succeed to improve the critical conditions of the Egypt’s economy, show real respect for human rights, steer the nation toward national reconciliation and, on the whole, guide the country toward progress and prosperity. This question has already preoccupied a great number of political observers. Following the recent developments, the Egyptian society has become intensely polarized and, in political terms, is facing deep horizontal and vertical gaps. Now, if secular intellectuals in Egypt were asked, “Will the military succeed, under the present circumstances, to return the Egypt to its real position in the region or not?” they would possibly say, “In view of its geopolitical position, Egypt is not in a situation to exercise the modern model of democracy.

Therefore, the military, which is in control of all the economic structure of the country, will have to engage in positive interaction with the modern world. As a result, they would ultimately manage to introduce a limited version of democracy to the country.” However, if the same question is asked from independent and Muslim intellectuals, their answer will be totally different: “The Egyptian military is basically unfamiliar with the ABCs of democracy and due to its proximity to Israel, Egypt will continue to be under the influence of this factor. In other words, Israel has not given up its old strategy of weakening its powerful Arab rivals.” To uphold their conclusion, this group of intellectuals will bring examples from Iraq, Syria, and Egypt, that is, three major Arab countries which have been always a source of concern for Israel.

The situation in Iraq turned into the critical conditions that everybody has been witnessing and the situation in Syria is no better. Egypt, in the best possible case, should be one way or another held in a situation that would be no threat to security of Israel. In their assessment of Egypt’s developments, the political analysts are more in agreement with the viewpoints of the Islamist figures of this Arab country. This group of observers maintains that if the Egyptian military was more potent and more capable for the management of one of the biggest Arab countries, the situation of that country would have greatly improved during the past two decades in which the Egyptian military has enjoyed unbridled support of the United States, and the country would not have been in the situation it is experiencing right now. Therefore, under new circumstances, what element is the Egyptian military willing to add to its already unsuccessful track records, which they have not been able to do during the past decades? In conclusion and through a general approach, due to existence of profound social and political gaps in the Egyptian society and also as a result of geographical propinquity to Israel and its role in security of Israel, Egypt will continue to grapple with crisis until further notice. Perhaps, this is exactly the same thing that big powers and Israel wish for Egypt.

Key Words: Egypt Military, Past Mistakes, General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Muslim Intellectuals, Israel, National Reconciliation, Mohamed Morsi, Mousavi

Source: Institute for Middle East Strategic Studies (MERC)
http://fa.merc.ir/
Translated By: Iran Review.Org

More By Seyed Hussein Mousavi:

*Syria in the Third Year of Crisis: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Syria-in-the-Third-Year-of-Crisis.htm

*US’ Double Logic on the Syrian Crisis: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/US’_Double_Logic_on_the_Syrian_Crisis.htm

*The Political Crisis in Iraq and the Best Way Out: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/The_Political_Crisis_in_Iraq_and_the_Best_Way_Out.htm

*Photo Credit: The Guardian

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