There is little doubt that Egypt faces a torrid time over the next few years. After having experience the nearest thing to a free and democratic election, it now finds itself facing a return to the dark old days of a military dictatorship, albeit one that is supported by a large proportion of its people.
When war planes and helicopters fly over the vast crowds in the ‘square,’ and receive applause and shouts of joy, one must remember that things can take a very different turn when those same weapons are turned on the people. Crowds are fickle in their reaction political and real life events. The huge numbers were drawn to the streets because they were unhappy with the incumbent President Morsi and his Government.
Perhaps Egyptians have been a tad inpatient for the economy to improve after what can only be described as a basket case performance since the demise of the former dictator. The people in the streets are angry for a myriad of reasons, not the least the economy and the perceived direction of President Morsi. His plan to take Egypt in the direction of an Islamic and possibly a fundamentalist Islamic future did not sit well with many Egyptians.
Women in particular felt that they had been relegated to a role that they thought was something from the past, a role of subservience and poor representation in the political process. Young people had their grievances, one of which was the movement towards curtailing their rights to express themselves in this modern world. Morsi was playing a dangerous game. On the one hand he was trying to appease those who elected him and that large group is a conservative branch of Egyptian society, especially away from the big cities. On the other hand, he had to walk tight rope that had the liberal non-religious on the other side of the ‘rope.’ It is difficult to say which group is the more numerous, but his actions were beginning to show that he was not taking the vast majority of Egyptian people with him on his religion-based state.
I am uncomfortable about the way in which Morsi has lost power. The military seems to have a stake in Egyptian society that is more reminiscent of a less than democratic past. Of course they are not alone in this. Just look back to the bad old days of Greek history and the role of the army or take a glance at Argentinian history to see like-minded movements. In the case of Egypt though, it feels like the military have the ‘temporary’ support of the people.
Morse was elected and it was the first time that a relatively free expression of the peoples’ will brought him to power. It is what he has done since (or not done) that has put him offside with the people. What Egypt does not need is what we are witnessing in Syria. To avoid this, the major players in the region, must take a deep breath and stay clear of trying to influence the result of this latest move in Egypt. The USA and Russia must stay clear and let the people of Egypt chose their own destiny, painful as that may be in the short to medium term.
I am uncomfortable about the imprisonment of the leading figures in the Muslim Brotherhood movement. If there is to be any agreement about Egypt’s future, imprisoning a major ‘force’ should not be part of the solution. This very group that became the government sprang from many years of fighting to gain recognition. Not letting them be part of the future, merely thrusts Egypt back into the terrible past.
One can only hope and pray that the people of Egypt come through this crisis and emerge as a state that has its own character and one that serves all the people.