EGYPT: ONCE AGAIN ON THE BRINK?
"(Reuters) - Egypt's armed forces handed Islamist President Mohamed Mursi a virtual ultimatum to share power on Monday, giving feuding politicians 48 hours to compromise or have the army impose its own road map for the country. A dramatic military statement broadcast on state television declared the nation was in danger after millions of Egyptians took to the streets on Sunday to demand that Mursi quit and the headquarters of the ruling Muslim Brotherhood were ransacked. The generals' intervention was greeted with delight among protesters in the streets - and muted dismay by Islamists. Since the fall of Hosni Mubarak as the Arab Spring revolutions took hold more than two years ago, the Arab world's most populous nation has remained in turmoil, arousing concern among allies in the West and in neighboring Israel, with which Egypt has had a peace treaty since 1979. Mursi's allies were angry: "The age of military coups is over," said the Brotherhood's Yasser Hamza. Mohamed El-Beltagy said Islamists would take to the streets to show their strength. Mursi himself did not respond all day. Crowds in Cairo's Tahrir Square cheered when a flight of military helicopters swooped overhead trailing national flags. Silhouetted against the sunset, it was a powerful illustration of the military's desire to be seen in tune with the people. "If the demands of the people are not realized within the defined period, it will be incumbent upon (the armed forces) ... to announce a road map for the future," the chief of staff, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, said in the statement. It was followed by martial music".Yasmine Saleh & Maggie Fick, "Egypt army gives Mursi 48 hours to share power." Reuters. 1 July 2013, in www.reuters.com.
"Opting for a revolutionary course this late in the game -- after more than two years of transition and five elections -- means starting from scratch with little guarantee that the second time will be much better. At some point, the past cannot be undone, except perhaps through mass violence on an unprecedented scale. If the first elected Islamist president is toppled, then what will keep others from trying to topple a future liberal president? If one looks at Tamarod's justifications for seeking Morsi's overthrow, the entire list consists of problems that will almost certainly plague his successor. They have little to do with a flawed transition process and a rushed constitution that ran roughshod over opposition objections and everything to do with performance ("Morsi was a total failure in achieving every single goal, no security has been reestablished and no social security realized, [giving] clear proof that he is not fit for the governance of such a country as Egypt," reads the Tamarod statement of principles). Legitimacy cannot depend solely or even primarily on effectiveness or competence. If it did, revolution could be justified anywhere at any time, including in at least several European democracies. That said, there is little doubt that Morsi suffers, perhaps more than anything else, from a legitimacy deficit, which, in an un-virtuous cycle, undermines governance, and so on. The key, then, is finding a way to bring disaffected Egyptians back into the political process -- a process from which they believe, with good reason, they have been excluded. This will require major concessions on Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood's part, including guaranteeing a fair electoral law with robust international monitoring, revising the most controversial articles of the constitution, and the formation of a caretaker national unity government until parliamentary elections are held later this year. Some in the opposition, of course, see the continuation of Brotherhood rule in near-apocalyptic terms and are unlikely to be satisfied with such concessions. The hope, though, is that enough concessions will be enough".Shadi Hamid, "Is a Second Revolution Really What Egypt Needs?" The Atlantic. 27 June 2013, in www.theatlantic.com There is from a historical perspective a certain logic to what is occurring as I write these words in Egypt. The fact is that the Muslim Brotherhood's participation in the democratic game was always dependent upon their following the unspoken rules of that game. Rightly or wrongly it appears that the Brotherhood has failed to abide by the script that they were suppose to follow. In a little less than a year, the Brotherhood has managed to alienate a considerable portion of Egypt's population. In particular its urban population. This is not to gainsay the fact that the Brotherhood has a hold on perhaps forty to forty-five percent of the electorate. Merely that this 'hold' is under the current circumstances inadequate. What needs to be done, before the entire situation becomes completely out of control with all that implies with the Arab World's largest country is a reconciliation between the various forces in the country. Ideally, President Morsi should resign and be replaced by another, more moderate figure from the Brotherhood in a new, more inclusive government. The fact is, that however stupid and narrow-minded is the Brotherhood, it does represent a considerable element in Egypt's political landscape. A policy of overthrow by the military, especially one as politically maladroit as Egypt's is only at the very best a short-term solution. The Algerian example of the late 1980's gives us a good idea as to what may occur if the Brotherhood is simply ousted from power. However, much such a 'solution' may appear to be for the very best. What is currently and immediately needed is something which will hold the fort politically speaking until the reforms, especially economic reforms that this country needs and requires can be carried out. As indeed the outlook is grim for both Egypt and the Near and Middle East.