By Ala’ Alrababa’h (Twitter: @a_alrababah)
Note: This article was cross-posted at peacefare.net
Like many, I’m confused about the events in Egypt. While I sympathize with
Tamarod’s grievances, ousting President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood was not a good idea. The movement had no other agenda. They did not outline what will happen the day after. They were waiting for the military to announce the post-Morsi transition. Why didn’t Tamarod propose its own agenda?
Morsi ruled Egypt for only one year. He made many mistakes. But Egyptians should not have expected their situation to improve in just one year. If opposition leaders had thought strategically about their future, they would have wanted to keep Morsi in power. The first few years after a revolution are always difficult, making any government unpopular. The opposition should have expected that by the end of Morsi’s first term, they would be able to win elections. Ruling Egypt three years from now would have been easier. If the opposition comes to power now, its popularity will almost inevitably decrease. The new opposition (the Brotherhood), will gain more support, and might be able to win elections in a few years.
Morsi proposed a power-sharing government and reviewing the constitution after protests began. Those were significant compromises. Why did the opposition refuse them? Tamarod feared that Morsi was moving Egypt towards a dictatorship. Next elections might not occur and might not be free and fair. Some opposition leaders were greedy for power—they wanted to rule as soon as they could. The military’s tacit endorsement of Tamarod encouraged protestors to stay in the streets. Even if their leaders wanted them to return home after Morsi compromised, theycould not control the masses.
Only two years ago the army ruled Egypt, and liberals above all were unhappy. Why did they ask for the military to come back now? Has the opposition forgotten that Mubarak, Sadat, and Nasser all came from the military? Why are liberals happy that the military has such a large say in domestic politics? Militaries do not often produce democratic governments. As one commentator pointed out on twitter, the Egyptian military’s victories have tended to be against domestic, rather than foreign, opponents. Liberals should be wary of the army’s involvement in domestic politics. Instead, we see them hailing the military after it overthrew Morsi.
Egyptians should be wary of what will happen next. While Morsi is overthrown, the Brotherhood is still strong (and armed). Even if there is no violence, the army could be ruling Egypt through the interim president, Adli Mansour. It is unclear how and when the army will agree to give up power to democratically elected rulers. Once that occurs, ruling Egypt should still be very difficult. The new rulers may quickly grow unpopular, and the new opposition (the Brotherhood), might gain steam. The Brotherhood could take over Egypt in the following elections, once the situation is better. Even worse, the Brotherhood might decide not to wait, and stage its own coup.
All this reminds me of what Marc Lynch wrote a year ago. Egyptians are “caught up in one great game of Calvinball.” The rules, goals, identities of players, and nature of competition just keep on changing.