Military coup d’état in Egypt: Murder of nascent democracy

By Mohammad Pervez Bilgrami:

Egypt’s first ever, democratically elected President Mohammad Morsi was ousted in a military coup on Wednesday, almost a year after his empowerment. The Head of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) and Defense Minister, General Abdul Fatah Khalil el-Sisi, who was appointed by Morsi, last year, overthrew the President. It is pertinent to add that the US Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel spoke to General Sisi on Tuesday and conferred the Obama Administration’s consent for Sisi to carry out the coup d’état.

Al-Ikḫwān Al-Muslimūn, popularly known with its English acronym “Muslim Brotherhood” (MB), was long suppressed by the military dictators of Egypt. The group remained outlawed under the then-president Gamal Abdel Nasser until the 2011 “revolution”. The Arab spring demonstrations against the despots provided the organization an opportunity to come out from the closet. MB seized the opportunity in the first-ever free and fair, democratic process of electioneering in the country and won both the Parliamentary and presidential elections after the popular uprising that ousted long-time dictator Hosni Mubarak from power.

Most of the experts are of the opinion that the full revolution never took place in Egypt as the whole bureaucracy, judiciary and other organs and institutions remained intact as left-overs of the old regime. After the removal of Mubarak, the revolution was stalled by the Egyptian judiciary and military by ousting only Mubarak, his family and few close associates. The deep-state never allowed President Morsi to perform freely and always created hurdles in the smooth functioning of the state.

The Mubarak-era judiciary, headed by the-then head of supreme constitutional court, Ahmad el Zend, declared the first freely elected parliament unconstitutional on the eve of the Presidential election and later on barred all the Government efforts for the re-election of the assembly until the orchestration of a successful coup d’état.

The deep-state in Egypt that remained vigorous, even after the fall of Hosni Mubarak, actively participated in the coup d’état. They have posed every hurdle in their armoury to stop the progress of a democratically-elected government in the country. Those who tolerated 30 years of Mubarak dictatorship could not tolerate a year of democratically-elected Morsi government, because they never liked democracy to flourish in Egypt or elsewhere in the Muslim world.

The National Salvation Front (NSF), a loose umbrella of liberals and Nasserites, always undermined the rise of MB in power as they could not digest the popularity of the MB that has swept all the elections in post-Mubarak Egypt. The undemocratic liberals of the NSF knew that they cannot beat MB in free and fair elections so they backed or even urged the military leadership to stage coup against the democratically-elected government. Mohammad Albardei, Amr Musa and Hamden Shabaahi could not cross even the first stage of the Presidential race and are now vying for the political leadership of the country in an undemocratic way.

MB, the oldest and widely popular social organization of the country, and its political wing the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), is deeply entrenched in Egyptian society. Decades of extreme oppression and torture could not quash the base of the organization, usually known for its charity, with a chain of schools, hospitals and other public service utilities where state authorities have failed to deliver.

Most of the top leadership of the MB, including deposed President Mohammad Morsi, are arrested and slapped with travel bans by the authorities. The broadcasting channels affiliated with MB and other Islamist Organizations, are off air since the coup d’état declaration. State-run Al-Ahram news network reported that the crews of MB-owned Misr 25 were arrested, with staff at other channels allegedly evacuated from their offices. It is ironic that the so-called democratic liberals of Egypt are not only supporting the coup but also trying to legitimize the undemocratic moves of the deep-state.

After decades of oppression and hardship, and acceptance of the democratic process as the legitimate path to power, many Brotherhood supporters are angered and disillusioned by what is essentially the overthrow of a democratically-elected president. They have made electoral legitimacy the most pertinent form of democratic legitimacy. The weeping Morsi supporters at Raba’a El-Adwyia mosque square in Cairo tell the story itself.

In response to the army’s statement, Morsi delivered a recorded speech to a Brotherhood sit-in at the same Raba’a Al Adawiya Square, where they have been camped out since Sunday. He claimed to still be president in the speech, but he is currently under house arrest. Similar to yesterday’s speech, he urged civilians and the military to uphold the law and not accept the coup, which he said would turn Egypt backwards.

Syrian Dictator, Bashar Al-Assad was amongst the first world leaders to congratulate the Egyptian Army for overthrowing President Morsi. Israel, on the other hand, is relieved after the fall of the MB-led Government in Egypt as are the monarchies of the Middle East. Palestinian President Mahmood Abbas of Fatah, the partner in “peace” with Israel, also congratulated the coup leaders of Egypt. The statements from the United States and the European Union did not even call the coup a coup; they were merely expressing concern and asking the soldiers to go back to civilian rule as soon as possible.

Suffice to say that, although currently vilified, the Muslim Brotherhood is still the most significant part of the Egyptian polity and it will not simply go away after whatever happened from June 30 until today. It remains to be seen that the coup staged by General Al-Sisi will make him a “Pervez Musharraf “of Egypt or if he will be compelled to reverse his decision before the time trickles out.

Mohammad Pervez Bilgrami is a Delhi-based independent analyst on international relations and geopolitics. His special focus is on West Asian & North African affairs.


Copyright © 2013

4 Responses to Military coup d’état in Egypt: Murder of nascent democracy
  1. Editor
    July 6, 2013 | 12:06

    We know our readers will have different viewpoints about the Muslim Brotherhood and the army takeover – and the possible implications for Kurds – and we welcome discussion and further submissions on the matter.

  2. Raza
    July 6, 2013 | 15:54

    The most important point is the definition of democracy and that can be debated. Whether people agreed with the policies of Muslim Brotherhood or not, they get their chance in elections to take revenge through ballots. Calling Military to oust the democratically elected leader and condoning the coup d’état is a grave violation of democratic norms and can never be justified.

    • Ari Ali
      July 7, 2013 | 01:34

      I can not agree with you more .

  3. Suleiyman
    July 6, 2013 | 17:03

    I don’t support the Muslim Brotherhood and I think they have some major issues and pack of maturity in politics, but what is happening in Egypt is a coup on democracy and cannot be politicized. This version of military power can be replicated anywhere and if people support it or stay quiet on it, just because the victims today are Islamists, then tomorrow the victims could be any other group. How this can apply to the Kurdish experience is also a very valid argument. Right now, the current major powers in Kurdistan, PUK and KDP, have managed to oppress some Islamic groups under the name of terrorism, next they may target Goran got treason or obstruction of stability, and there will be no end to it. Therefore, people need to wake up and realize that freedom is a given right and we should fight for it even if it means more rights for people whom we have disagreements with.

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