By Abdelrahman Rashdan
Egyptians are again amazing the whole world with their abilities to change their political realities; yet this time might be to the worse.
The military coup that took place in response to the mass demonstrations in Egypt which lasted for few days came in to mark a new fundamental change in the political life. It seems now that the streets have become the ballot box, and military helicopters have now become the tool for counting the vote, while the results get announced by uniformed military personnel.
The reasons why Egypt reached this stage are numerous and can be tackled in another analysis, yet what is more important now is to underscore the looming danger that the country is heading towards.
Here are the reasons why I think Egypt’s political future is in danger:
1 -Military coup is different from the January 25 revolution:
Egyptian people are divided now between supporters and opponents and each side has its own reasonable arguments. It is not black and white as it was before, not a dictator that has been abusing his people for 30 years.
2- Ballot boxes lost credibility:
Egyptians that have stood in endless lines for hours to cast their votes in three elections and two referendums have their votes simply replaced by the eyes of the military looking down their helicopters for the past few days to estimate the number of people on the streets, and determine which bloc has the majority: the opposition or supporters of the democratically elected president.
At the same time, there is a big portion of the masses supporting the Islamic movements, especially youth, which only participated in the democratic process because it was the only option available although they see it as a mean that contradicts Islamic Shari’ah. The military coup just proved them right now; they have all the Islamic and pragmatic reasons to reject democracy. I wouldn’t be surprised if new solutions found increasing popularity in Egypt soon.
3- Referendum on early presidential elections not considered:
Detentions and media bans after the coup was launched say a lot about the democracy and rule of law that Egypt will witness for the upcoming period.
If the opponents of President Morsi represent the majority of Egyptians, as claimed by the military coup, then why did not the military allow all the Egyptians an equal chance to say their opinion about conducting early presidential elections? This way it would have been a democratic process to oust Morsi instead of an army boot stepping on the mouths of all other Egyptians, who have also filled up streets in masses since July 1st.
4- Unholy relationship between the opposition and Mubarak’s regime:
It is a return of Mubarak’s regime in a new face, if one wishes to say it bluntly. In reality, Dr. Mohamed al-Baradie — opposition leader who was invited during the military’s declaration of the coup — declared it clearly days before the June 30th demonstrations; he said that Egyptians have to start a process of national reconciliation with “what is called the old regime,” except for those who committed crimes.
Considering the fact that most of the figures of the old regime have been surprisingly granted acquittals from charges levied against them, so al-Baradie won’t have a problem in letting them on board, contributing again to pushing the political wargon. In fact, , scores of influential figures from Mubarak’s regime did participate in the June 30th demonstrations that culminated in the removal of Morsi through being in the streets or propagating it through media.
So it would not be a surprise to witness, very soon, well-funded and publicized political parties with Mubarak’s men on top, or appointed in key positions and ministries.
5- Absence of unifying national figure to lead the country:
The last time all Egyptians stood together hand in hand was during the 18 days of the January 25 Revolution. Since then, divisions have been increasing by time with figures rising and others falling; the division reached its unprecedented peak during the June 30 events where some members of Islamic and other groups got killed in the streets in day light for their political affiliations.
Now, after the military coup, Egyptians stand even more divided between supporters and opponents of the coup. It is absolutely impossible to reach national agreement, or even comforting majority, on any figure, which brings Egypt to presidential elections results close to the level that brought Morsi to power —almost 52 percent — and the cycle repeats itself.
6- Military above the state:
For the second time in two-and-half years the military comes in to settle, mainly peaceful, political disputes. The June 30th demonstrations asked for the intervention of the military from its beginning, some demonstrators were even camping in front of the ministry of defense in an attempt to pressure the defense minister to step in.
Such military intervention in the political life sets a golden rule for Egypt: the state is still under the military and not vice versa. In fact, this has been the sole demand of the January 25th Revolution, to make Egypt a a civilian state after decades of being ruled by presidents with military background and support.
Not only that Egypt has failed again to create a healthy and democracy-based relationship between its government and military, it has reached a worse situation where people beg the military to take over and sort out matters that are supposed to be originally and purely civilian and peaceful in nature.
It is a return of Mubarak’s regime in a new face.
In one of the international reactions to this event, the British Foreign Secretary William Hague noticed the looming danger; he told BBC, “If one president can be deposed by the military then of course another one can be in the future — that’s a dangerous thing.”
7- Weakening the military:
Continuous intervention in the political life will definitely make the Egyptian military distracted from its sole purpose: protecting the country against foreign enemies. The resources of the military are getting consumed in internal struggles while Egypt’s borders are heating up from almost all its fronts, east, west, and south.
8- No clear roadmap:
Although the Defense Minister Al-Sisi declared the presence of a very clear road map in case the political parties were not able to settle their dispute, 48 hours before the coup, he failed to state any dates for any step, including the presidential and parliamentary elections. This reminds Egyptians with the promises of Tantawi to hand in the state to an elected government very soon, which turned out to be a painful year-and-half.
Not only that, as soon as the Sisi military coup was broadcasted on the television, pro-Morsi channels were blackened-out and their staff detained, and the Freedom and Justice Party newspaper banned. This is in addition to the reports of arresting and detaining big number of Muslim Brotherhood leaders and placing them on travel ban; something that says a lot about the democracy and rule of law that Egypt will witness for the upcoming period.
There are hundreds of thousands of pro-Morsi supporters still holding their grounds in the streets amid complete media blackout. Their news is being leaked through social media and some non-Egyptian satellite channels that have not been cutoff. It is not up yet; events are escalating hour-by-hour as people are increasingly realizing that Egypt is back to square one.
– Abdelrahman Rashdan is an academician of the Future University in Egypt. He holds a Master’s degree in International Affairs and a Certificate in Middle East Studies from Columbia University. (This article was first published in OnIslam.com on July 04, 2013)