The Egyptian army cannot turn back now; it will probably continue full speed
ahead and not allow the Muslim Brotherhood to eke its way back into power or get
into a position where it could win elections again.
The army has been
effectively – and brutally – dealing with the Islamists for years, and if anyone
knows how to suppress them, it is the army and the country’s intelligence
The army knows that it must crack down hard on the organization
in order to install a government more in line with its interests and those of
the opposition protesters, while at the same time quelling any protests and
violence from former president Mohamed Morsi’s supporters.
Thus, it is
expected that we will see a continuation of arrests, the shutting down of
Islamist media, and trials of members of the former regime. After all, this is
the accepted and required behavior for leaders in the Arab world – to take total
control and eliminate any hint of opposition – a winner-takes-all mentality, the
survival of the fittest.
What do Muammar Gaddafi, Bashar Assad, Hafez
Assad, Yasser Arafat, King Abdullah II of Jordan, King Hussein, Saddam Hussein,
and other leaders of Arab states have in common? What did these leaders have to
do in order to survive in this dangerous neighborhood?
David Pryce-Jones, the
author of The Closed Circle
, published for the first time in 1989, wrote: “Time
after time, another bout of intra-Arab fighting produces a flurry of further
metaphors about socialism and revolution, which fade out as yet another absolute
ruler takes power exactly as his predecessor had done.”
on to state that the situation in the region is difficult for a Westerner to
understand since he must “make the imaginative leap of abandoning his universe
and his institutions, and so enter the Arab collectivity of tribe and kin and
In an article in Asharq al-Awsat
at the end of
2011, after the inception of the “Arab Spring” and the toppling of former
president Hosni Mubarak, Mamoun Fandy wrote, “The important point in all of
this, despite my enthusiasm for change in post-revolutionary Egypt and my
presence at the heart of it, is my theory that the ‘Arab Spring’ will not
represent a break from tyranny, but rather it will be an extension of it with
“What is the future of the ‘Arab spring?’ This
is a question that preoccupies the outside world. Will the ‘Spring’ lead to a
new breakthrough, or simply a reproduction of the old status quo? This is the
A scenario in which the Egyptian military today will be able
to step outside of what Pryce-Jones calls “the closed circle” and incorporate
the Muslim Brotherhood into the new regime seems unlikely, unless violence or
outside pressure forces its hand.
This is especially true, coming after
all of the strong rhetoric from Islamists that they will continue fighting for
Morsi, who they see as the legitimately elected president.
Meital, chairman of the Chaim Herzog Center for Middle East Studies and
Diplomacy at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, told The Jerusalem Post the
army is being careful and moving in a very limited manner because of the
volatile situation. If the situation was not how it is, the army would have
cracked down much more severely on the Islamists.
The army is arresting
Islamists and their leaders, sending a message that it will not tolerate any
incitement against the army, said Meital. Yet it does not want to move too
quickly and strongly and raise the concern of other sectors in Egypt and the
international community, which are already criticizing the coup, he
Asked if he really believes that the army will hold elections this
year, Meital responded that the army committed itself to the Egyptian people
that there would be elections sometime this year. However, he said, there is
intense debate about the timing of the elections.
voices are saying that they should learn from the previous experience of
Mubarak,” when the army pushed for having elections too quickly. This time there
is talk of first moving to stabilize the economy and then agreeing on a
constitution. Only then, would elections be held.
“When [Gen. Abdel
Fattah al-]Sisi ordered the toppling of Morsi who won in free elections, he made
a statement, which set a precedent,” stated Meital. This means that even if the
Brotherhood would succeed again in winning elections, “they would have to take
into account that if they would try to Islamize the state again, they could
easily find themselves in a similar situation as under Morsi.”