FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

How Egypt’s ‘Revolution’ Betrayed Itself

by RAMZY BAROUD

“The revolution is dead. Long live the revolution,” wrote Eric Walberg, a Middle East political expert and author, shortly after the Egyptian military overthrew the country’s democratically elected President Mohammed Morsi on July 3.

But more accurately, the revolution was killed in an agonizingly slow death, and the murders were too many to count.

Mohamed ElBaradei, a liberal elitist with a dismal track record in service of western powers during his glamorous career as the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, is a stark example of the moral and political crisis that has befallen Egypt since the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak.

ElBaradei played a most detrimental role in this sad saga, from his uneventful return to Egypt during the Jan. 2011 revolution – being casted as the sensible, western-educated liberator – to the ousting of the only democratically-elected president this popular Arab country has ever seen. His double-speak was a testament not only to his opportunistic nature as a politician and the head of the Dostour Party, but to the entire political philosophy of the National Salvation Front, the opposition umbrella group for which he served as a coordinator.

The soft-spoken man, who rarely objected to the unfair pressure imposed on Iraq during his services as the head of the UN nuclear watch dog, was miraculously transformed into a fierce politician with persisting demands and expectations. His party, like the rest of Egypt’s opposition, had performed poorly in every democratic election and referendum held since the ouster of Mubarak. Democracy proved him irrelevant. But after every failure he and the opposition managed to emerge even louder thanks to a huge media apparatus that operated around the clock in a collective, undying commitment in rearranging the country’s political scene in their favor, regardless of what the majority of Egyptians thought.

Soon after General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi announced a military coup on July 04, in what was a clearly well-organized conspiracy involving the army, much of the media, the opposition and disaffected Mubarak-era judges, silencing the Muslim Brotherhood and their own media were paramount. The level of organization in which the coup conspirators operated left no doubt that the military was most insincere when two days earlier they had given the quarreling political parties 48 hours to resolve their disputes or else.

But of course there was no room for compromise as far as ElBaradei’s opposition was concerned, and the army knew that well. On June 30, one year since Morsi had taken office following transparent, albeit protracted elections, the opposition organized with the sinister goal of removing the president at any cost. Some called on the army, which has proven to be extremely devious and untrustworthy, to lead the ‘democratic’ transition. ElBaradei even invited supporters of the former regime to join his crusade to oust the Brotherhood. The idea was simple: to gather as many people in the streets as possible, claiming a second revolution and calling on the military to intervene to save Egypt from Morsi and his supposed disregard of the will of the people. The military, with a repulsive show of orchestrated benevolence, came to the rescue, in the name of the people and democracy. They arrested the president, shut down Islamic TV stations, killed many and rounded up hundreds of people affiliated with the ruling party. Fireworks ensued, ElBaradei and his men gloated, for Egypt had supposedly been saved.

Except it was not.

“Mubarak-era media owners and key members of Egypt’s liberal and secular opposition have teamed up to create arguably one of the most effective propaganda campaigns in recent political history, to demonize Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood,” wrote Mohamad Elmasry of the American University in Cairo.

Much of the media in Egypt never truly shifted allegiances. It remained as dirty and corrupt as it was during the Mubarak regime. It was there to serve the interest of the powerful business and political elites. But, due to the changing political reality – three democratic elections and two referendums, all won by Islamic party supporters –  it was impossible for them to operate using the same language. They too jumped on the revolution bandwagon using the same frame of references as if they were at the forefront of the fight for freedom, equality and democracy.

Egypt’s reactionary forces, not only in the media, but also the pro-Mubarak judges, the self-serving military, etc, managed to survive the political upheaval not for being particularly clever. They simply had too much room to regroup and maneuver since the desperate opposition, ElBaradie and company, put all of their focus on discounting Morsi, undermining the Muslim Brotherhood, and undercutting the democratic process that brought them to power. In their desperation and search for power, they lost sight of the revolution and its original goals, disowned democracy, but more importantly endangered the future of Egypt itself.

What took place in Egypt, starting with the orchestrated ‘revolution’ on June 30, from the army’s ultimatum, to the military coup, to the shameless reinvention of the old order – accompanied with repopulating the prisons and sending tanks to face unarmed civilians – was not only disheartening to the majority of Egyptians, but was a huge shock to many people around the world as well. Egypt, which once inspired the world, is now back to square one.

Since the onset of the so called Arab Spring, an intense debate of numerous dimensions has ensued. One of its aspects was concerned with the role of religion in a healthy democracy. Egypt, of course, was in the heart of that debate, and every time Egyptians went to the ballot box they seemed to concur with the fact that they wished to see some sort of marriage between Islam and democracy. It was hardly an easy question, and until now there have been no convincing answers. But, as in any healthy democracy, it was the people who were to have the final say. The fact that the choice of a poor peasant from a distant Egyptian village didn’t match ElBaradei’s elitist sensibility is of no consequence whatsoever.

It is unfortunate, but hardly surprising, that many of the idealists who took to Tahrir Square in Jan. 2011 and spoke of equal rights for all, couldn’t bear the outcome of that equality. Some complained that decades of marginalization under Mubarak didn’t qualify Egypt’s poor, uneducated and illiterate to make decisions pertaining to political representation and democratic constitution. And in a sad turn of events, these very forces were openly involved in toppling the democratically-elected president and his party, as they happily celebrated the return to oppression as a glorious day of freedom. ElBaradie may now return to center stage, lecturing Egypt’s poor on what true democracy is all about – and why, in some way, the majority doesn’t matter at all.

Ramzy Baroud is editor of PalestineChronicle.com. He is the author of The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle  and  “My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story” (Pluto Press, London).

Dr. Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 years. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London). His website is: ramzybaroud.net

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

December 06, 2016
Anthony DiMaggio
Post-Fact Politics: Reviewing the History of Fake News and Propaganda
Richard Moser
Standing Rock: Challenge to the Establishment, School for the Social Movements
Norman Solomon
Media Complicity is Key to Blacklisting Websites
Michael J. Sainato
Elizabeth Warren’s Shameful Exploitation of Standing Rock Victory
David Rosen
State Power and Terror: From Wounded Knee to Standing Rock
Kim Ives
Deconstructing Another Right-Wing Victory in Haiti
Nile Bowie
South Korea’s Presidency On A Knife-Edge
Mateo Pimentel
Some Notes and a Song for Standing Rock
Bill Fletcher Jr – Bob Wing
Fighting Back Against the White Revolt of 2016
Peter Lee
Is America Ready for a War on White Privilege?
Pepe Escobar
The Rules of the (Trump) Game
W. T. Whitney
No Peace Yet in Colombia Despite War’s End
Mark Weisbrot
Castro Was Right About US Policy in Latin America
David Swanson
New Rogue Anti-Russia Committee Created in “Intelligence” Act
George Ochenski
Forests of the Future: Local or National Control?
December 05, 2016
Bill Martin
Stalingrad at Standing Rock?
Mark A. Lause
Recounting a Presidential Election: the Backstory
Mel Goodman
Mad Dog Mattis and Trump’s “Seven Days in May”
Matthew Hannah
Standing Rock and the Ideology of Oppressors: Conversations with a Morton County Commissioner
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
#NoDAPL Scores Major Victory: No Final Permit For Pipeline
Fran Shor
The End of the Indispensable Nation
Michael Yates
Vietnam: the War That Won’t Go Away
Michael Uhl
Notes on a Trip to Cuba
Robert Hunziker
Huge Antarctica Glacier in Serious Trouble
John Steppling
Screen Life
David Macaray
Trump vs. America’s Labor Unions
Yoav Litvin
Break Free and Lead, or Resign: a Letter to Bernie Sanders
Norman Pollack
Taiwan: A Pustule on International Politics
Kevin Martin
Nuclear Weapons Modernization: a New Nuclear Arms Race? Who Voted for it? Who Will Benefit from It?
David Mattson
3% is not Enough: Towards Restoring Grizzly Bears
Howard Lisnoff
The Person Who Deciphered the Order to Shoot at Kent State
Dave Archambault II
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Statement on Dakota Access Pipeline Decision
Nick Pemberton
Make America Late Again
Weekend Edition
December 02, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
The Coming War on China
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The CIA’s Plots to Kill Castro
Paul Street
The Iron Heel at Home: Force Matters
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Timberg’s Tale: Washington Post Reporter Spreads Blacklist of Independent Journalist Sites
Andrew Levine
Must We Now Rethink the Hillary Question? Absolutely, Not
Joshua Frank
CounterPunch as Russian Propagandists: the Washington Post’s Shallow Smear
David Rosen
The Return of HUAC?
Rob Urie
Race and Class in Trump’s America
Patrick Cockburn
Why Everything You’ve Read About Syria and Iraq Could be Wrong
Caroline Hurley
Anatomy of a Nationalist
Ayesha Khan
A Muslim Woman’s Reflections on Trump’s Misogyny
Michael Hudson – Steve Keen
Rebel Economists on the Historical Path to a Global Recovery
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail