FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Back on Cairo’s Streets

The Muslim Brotherhood had sworn not to seek the Egyptian presidency. Having broken this promise, they said they would bring “bread, liberty and social justice”. But under their rule, insecurity and poverty increased. So the people took to the streets again, insisting that President Mohammed Morsi must go (see Shadow of the army over Egypt’s revolution). This is how some revolutions start. And when they are successful, they are celebrated for centuries without much attention to whether they were spontaneous, or to the legal grounds for their unleashing. History is not a lesson in law.

When Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorship ended, it would have been unwise to imagine that the first elections would not be affected by the prolonged stranglehold he had exerted over political life and open debate. Voters in these circumstances often confirm the status of the most highly structured social or institutional forces (leading families, the army, the original ruling party) or of organised groups that have built up clandestine networks to escape repression (the Muslim Brotherhood). Democracy cannot be achieved in the course of a single election.

Broken promises, leaders elected by narrow margins only to be confronted by disenchanted or angry people, mass demonstrations organised by a miscellaneous collection of protesters: other countries besides Egypt have experienced situations like this in recent years — though without the army taking over, holding the head of state without trial and murdering militants. Otherwise, it would be known as a coup.

Western countries are not using that term. As self-proclaimed arbiters of diplomatic nuances, they seem to think that not every military putsch — in Mali, Honduras or Egypt — is equally objectionable. The United States initially supported the Muslim Brotherhood but then continued to give military support to Cairo when Morsi was “deposed” by the army. Washington’s dream ticket would have been a conservative alliance between the army and Brotherhood, but it was not to be. To the delight of those nostalgic for the old regime, pro-Nasser nationalists, Egyptian neoliberals, Salafists, the secular left and the Saudi monarchy. Some of them are bound to be disappointed.

Even though Egypt is bankrupt, the conflict between the military and the Islamists has very little to do with the economic and social choices facing the country, largely unchanged since Mubarak fell. But whether it ends in elections or a coup, what’s the use of a revolution that doesn’t change anything in those key areas? The new leaders put financial aid ($12bn) from the Gulf states, notably reactionary Saudi Arabia (1), before saving the country. If that option is confirmed, the Egyptians will take to the streets again, whatever the lawyers may have to say.

SERGE HALIMI is director of Le Monde Diplomatique. He has written several books, including one  on the French press, Les nouveaux chiens de garde and another on the French left in the 20th century – Quand la gauche essayait – both are fine works.  He can be reached at Serge.Halimi@monde-diplomatique.fr

This article appears in the excellent Le Monde Diplomatique, whose English language edition can be found at mondediplo.com. This full text appears by agreement with Le Monde Diplomatique. CounterPunch features two or three articles from LMD every month.

More articles by:

Serge Halimi is president of Le Monde diplomatique

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