FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Implications of the Egyptian Military Coup

Military coups are no reason to celebrate. They derail the very idea of democratic institutions and sentiment. And it so happens that democracy gave Egypt the now deposed President Mohamed Morsi, an option that his opponents found contentious. The Egyptian military, in its espoused wisdom, decided that keeping Morsi was too much to bear, a costly experiment that was taking lives and fracturing the state.

Enter then, by default, the position Egypt found itself under General Hosni Mubarak, when the Muslim Brotherhood was regarded with deep suspicion and kept under strong military wrapping.

Now Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected leader, and leading followers have been re-wrapped, and the experiment of the Muslim Brotherhood put on deep ice.  The Tamarod campaign has gotten its prized scalp, ostensibly centred on a secular counter to the Muslim Brotherhood.  The Tamarod campaign was itself founded in April by members of the Kefaya movement, which reached prominence during the Mubarak-era.

Tamarod prides itself on being a grassroots response, lacking supporters from the big end of town. The claim is not clearly verifiable, and once the campaign gathered steam, other parties latched on its coattails with tactical enthusiasm.  Last week, the movement claimed to have obtained the spectacular number of 15 million signatures, 2 million more than those who voted for Morsi.  Now, the number stands at over 20 million.

The responses to the ouster have varied, though they follow strict lines of political and religious thinking in the region.  The Syrian government have found reason to cheer at the overthrow and detention of Morsi and his supporters.  “Syria’s people and leadership and army express their deep appreciation for the national populist movement in Egypt which has yielded a great achievement” (AFP, Jul 4).  Hypocrisy is something some regimes do better than others, and Bashar al-Assad’s endorsement of one form of populist uprising over another shows the state of mental confusion that attends some governments.

His is by no means the only one.  The Obama administration will not miss the Morsi regime, yet is happy backing an opposition movement in Syria seething with fundamentalist sentiment.

Nor will the United Arab Emirates, whose regime is happily disposed to crushing dissent and any whiff of democratic ferment, feel any remorse to Morsi’s departure.  The statement by Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan was filled with encouragement, not for the secular movement that had initiated the army’s reaction, but the Egyptian army itself.  “Egypt’s great army once more proves that it is Egypt’s protector … that will ensure it remains a country of institutions and law that protects all components of the brotherly Egyptian people.”

This is the rhetoric of despotic vengeance, not reform.  Needless to say, any Egyptian Tamarod campaigner is unlikely to be welcomed in the UAE, a political entity that prohibits the membership of political parties altogether.

In contrast Turkey, facing its own populist movement against a long term ruler, has expressed concern over the undemocratic ouster.  It all depends on how that fictitious term “a people’s will” is interpreted.  For Turkish deputy prime minister Bekir Bozdag claimed in Ankara that, “The power change in Egypt was not a result of the will of the people.  The change was not in compliance with democracy and law” (Al-Ahram Online, Jul 4).  The sentiments are hardly surprising given the efforts by Turkey’s Islamic Justice and Development Party to establish ties with Morsi’s government.

Where Tamarod goes, or for that matter the Egyptian military, are the open questions for the moment.  Coups by definition repudiate democracy, and Morsi was the choice of the democratic movement, however misplaced it might have initially seemed.  His opponents thought otherwise.  They will cite, with some justification, that democracy at the end of the gun is a sham experiment.

The fear now is whether one of North Africa’s most significant powers becomes the enlarged battleground for the Islamic experiment in what was misguidedly labelled the Arab Spring.  In Tunisia, there is a promise that a mirrored movement will take the reins of protest.  Their target is the Islamic experiment that came to replace the despotism the “spring” was meant to remove.

Few in the new movement will miss Morsi, but there is little reason to be too joyous.  When nature abhors a vacuum, it fills it with the most astonishing assortment of things.  A military regime with no timetable for transitional change is hardly a point of encouragement.

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.  Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

 

More articles by:

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

Weekend Edition
July 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Atwood
Peace or Armageddon: Take Your Pick
Paul Street
No Liberal Rallies Yet for the Children of Yemen
Nick Pemberton
The Bipartisan War on Central and South American Women
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Are You Putin Me On?
Andrew Levine
Sovereignty: What Is It Good For? 
Brian Cloughley
The Trump/NATO Debacle and the Profit Motive
David Rosen
Trump’s Supreme Pick Escalates America’s War on Sex 
Melvin Goodman
Montenegro and the “Manchurian Candidate”
Salvador   Rangel
“These Are Not Our Kids”: The Racial Capitalism of Caging Children at the Border
Matthew Stevenson
Going Home Again to Trump’s America
Louis Proyect
Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and the Dilemmas of the Left
Patrick Cockburn
Iraqi Protests: “Bad Government, Bad Roads, Bad Weather, Bad People”
Robert Fantina
Has It Really Come to This?
Russell Mokhiber
Kristin Lawless on the Corporate Takeover of the American Kitchen
John W. Whitehead
It’s All Fake: Reality TV That Masquerades as American Politics
Patrick Bobilin
In Your Period Piece, I Would be the Help
Ramzy Baroud
The Massacre of Inn Din: How Rohingya Are Lynched and Held Responsible
Robert Fisk
How Weapons Made in Bosnia Fueled Syria’s Bleak Civil War
Gary Leupp
Trump’s Helsinki Press Conference and Public Disgrace
Josh Hoxie
Our Missing $10 Trillion
Martha Rosenberg
Pharma “Screening” Is a Ploy to Seize More Patients
Basav Sen
Brett Kavanaugh Would be a Disaster for the Climate
David Lau
The Origins of Local AFT 4400: a Profile of Julie Olsen Edwards
Rohullah Naderi
The Elusive Pursuit of Peace by Afghanistan
Binoy Kampmark
Shaking Establishments: The Ocasio-Cortez Effect
John Laforge
18 Protesters Cut Into German Air Base to Protest US Nuclear Weapons Deployment
Christopher Brauchli
Trump and the Swedish Question
Chia-Chia Wang
Local Police Shouldn’t Collaborate With ICE
Paul Lyons
YouTube’s Content ID – A Case Study
Jill Richardson
Soon You Won’t be Able to Use Food Stamps at Farmers’ Markets, But That’s Not the Half of It
Kevin MacKay
Climate Change is Proving Worse Than We Imagined, So Why Aren’t We Confronting its Root Cause?
Thomas Knapp
Elections: More than Half of Americans Believe Fairy Tales are Real
Ralph Nader
Warner Slack—Doctor for the People Forever
Lee Ballinger
Soccer, Baseball and Immigration
Louis Yako
Celebrating the Wounds of Exile with Poetry
Ron Jacobs
Working Class Fiction—Not Just Surplus Value
Perry Hoberman
You Can’t Vote Out Fascism… You Have to Drive It From Power!
Robert Koehler
Guns and Racism, on the Rocks
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir: Implementation with Integrity and Will to Resolve
Justin Anderson
Elon Musk vs. the Media
Graham Peebles
A Time of Hope for Ethiopia
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Homophobia in the Service of Anti-Trumpism is Still Homophobic (Even When it’s the New York Times)
Martin Billheimer
Childhood, Ferocious Sleep
David Yearsley
The Glories of the Grammophone
Tom Clark
Gameplanning the Patriotic Retributive Attack on Montenegro
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail