Egypt returns to ‘normal’ after dabbling in democracy

Analysis: Negotiations, political solutions unlikely to occur soon; future elections likely not to be truly fair.

July 28, 2013 01:45
2 minute read.
Egypt's Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi

Egypt's Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi 370. (photo credit: Reuters)


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General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi took a page from previous Egyptian leaders, cracking down hard on the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi. Sisi’s announcement last week that there would be a protest against “violence” and “terrorism,” on Friday, in retrospect, appears to have been the final warning before the army took things to another level, removing protesters from the street by force and continuing the ongoing military operations against terrorists in the Sinai Peninsula.

Former president Hosni Mubarak kept tight control of the Muslim Brotherhood, persecuting its members and forcing much of its activities underground. The toppling of Mubarak in 2011 and the opening up of elections brought the Brotherhood and other radical Islamic groups out of the woodwork and into the center of the country’s political life.

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Many clamored that the holding of elections in Egypt meant the onset of democracy in the country, not fully understanding that democracy is much more than holding an election, but a culture that allows a real democracy to flourish. The elections gave the Muslim Brotherhood power for a time, but as soon as the party took things too far and harmed the economy, a large portion of the public along with the real power holders in the country, what some are calling the “deep state” – made up of the army and other security forces, powerful businessmen and bureaucrats – took the state back and opened the way for the return of former power players during Mubarak’s time.

The country’s interim president, Adli Mansour, whom Sisi appointed, comes from the judiciary, which is full of Mubarak appointees. Mansour served as deputy head of the constitutional court since 1992, and his new prime minister, Hazem al-Beblawi, formed a government without any Muslim Brotherhood members.

It appears for now that Sisi is the one calling the shots, but has entrusted the running of day-today affairs to a technocratic government that is highly dependent on the military, especially when it comes to dealing with protests by the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters, who were busy tweeting pictures and reports of the massacre and asking why the world was not intervening on their behalf.

“The world Democracy’s [watchdogs] US, EU & UN are ‘blind’ to the massacre in Egypt!” tweeted Ikhwanweb, an official Muslim Brotherhood website, on Saturday night.

The chance that negotiations will start soon or that any political solution to the standoff will be found in the coming weeks seems unlikely. The new regime first wants to give a knockout blow and then offer talks from an even stronger position.

It is hard to believe that if elections are held in the next year or so that they will be truly fair, as the Muslim Brotherhood and their supporters are back on their way to a more low-key presence of past years.

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