Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Puzzled thoughts of a self-confessed ignoramus

Unlike most bloggers, I am by no means an Egypt specialist, never been and never will be.  In fact, let me begin this post by confessing to the fact that I am a self-confessed Egypt ignoramus.  Please keep that in mind and forgive me all the nonsense I am about to write below and let me begin by saying that I am very disturbed not only by the events in Syria, but by the bizarre reactions I am observing: progressives rejoicing at the sight of a violent military coup.

So I will ask simple, basic questions in the hope that somebody will help me find the answers (I would be most interested in hearing the answers of those who are happy that the military overthrew Morsi).

Question one: what options for the Ikhwan?

Morsi was got 25% of the vote in the first round, and 52% on the second round.  Judging by the demonstrations in Egypt and by the violent clashes between pro and anti Morsi demonstrators, I think that we can safely posit that there are still "a lot" for Morsi supporters in Egypt.  Following the military coup, what are these supporters of Morsi expected to do?  Does anybody seriously think that they will just "take it" and no resist?  Are these people not forced into violent resistance?

Question two: was Morsi ever given a chance?

Morsi was elected one year ago for a four year term.  Is this past year enough not only to judge his rule, but to declare (as many do today) that "he was elected democratically, but he did not rule democratically"?  Other than Morsi, has there ever been another political leader in history who was judged so terrible as to justify a military coup against him after only one year in power? Was he not elected for four years?

Question three: who is in power now?

Who is in power now?  The military.  We are talking about a military which twice already betrayed its commander in chief, first Mubarak, now Morsi.  We know that the top command is composed of CIA puppets.  Just two years ago everybody saw Mubarak as just the tip of a "military iceberg" of corrupt pro-Zionists policies.  Why in the world is anybody buying the curious notion that these are "patriots"?!

Question four: where are the Egyptian progressives?

A lot of observers are blaming Morsi for his lack of economic policy and for his subservience to the international capitalist order.  Fair enough - Morsi is clearly no Sayyid Qutb.  But Sayyid Qutb is not an alternative today.  Today the options are folks like ElBaradei or Adly Mansour or Abdul Fatah al-Sisi.  Does anybody believe that these guys are in any way more progressive than Morsi or less dependent on the international capitalist order?!

Question five: does the democratic principle matter?

When Mubarak was overthrown, everybody rejoiced at the victory for democracy precisely because at that time it appeared that democracy had prevailed only because of the willingness of the Egyptian people to pay a huge price to obtain it.  Now Morsi is out.  But is it not rather obvious that there was no way of violently toppling Morsi without at the same time destroying democracy itself?

Please do not interpret my questions as a sign of sympathy for Morsi.  Personally, I don't like Morsi and I don't like his Ikhwan.  In fact, I am deeply suspicious of any form of Sunni Islamism which nowadays seems exclusively composed of reactionary elements rather than followers of Sayyid Qutb.  On a personal level I would probably get along much better with Egyptian secularists or Copts than with Morsi supporters. I also personally believe that if Morsi had stayed in power for another three years to complete his term this would have been an economic disaster for Egypt.

But none of that prevents me from understanding the difference between "bad" and "worse".  Neither does my dislike for Morsi and his party allow me to overlook the fact that he was overthrown by a military which really did not change much since the Mubarak era.

At this point, my gut feeling is this: Morsi, who only got 25% of the vote in the first round, was allowed to rule only long enough to get the majority of Egyptians who did not vote for him angry and frustrated enough to welcome a coup by the "heroic" and "patriotic" military.  And now that democracy itself has been tossed out of the window along with the Ikhwan, popular opinion will again become largely irrelevant, if only because it will have no legitimate way to express itself.  So its all back to square one: a US controlled military in full control.  Either that, or a long dark period of violence.

Please tell me why I am wrong!

The Saker