DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION, OR NOT? July 4, 2013Posted by wmmbb in Middle East, North Africa.
Public protest has developed in countries where dissatisfaction was unexpected, at least by those in power, notably in Turkey and Brazil. In recent days, the protests and counter protests in Egypt, if only because of the their size, have gained attention.
The Egyptians have learnt to do effective and widespread protest that overturn governments. Firstly that of Murbarek, and now Morsi. Beyond any conspiracy theory that may arise from the date suggesting the echo of an Eighteenth Century in North America (luckily now substantially erased, much like the Constitution and its’ Amendments – don’t mention the Fourth) it is strange in the short term has led to a military dictatorship, if for the short term, in which demonstrations will be penalized by arrest. Rather than fall for the media line that if it leads, it bleeds, this is an opportunity to resolve conflicts peacefully.
Juan Cole sets out the situation:
The argument over whether what happened in Egypt on Wednesday, July 3, was a coup or a revolution is really an argument over the legitimacy of the actions taken. If it was a revolution, it was perhaps a manifestation of the popular will, and so would have a sort of Rousseauan legitimacy. If it was merely a military coup against an elected president, then it lacks that legitimacy.
In fact, there certainly was a popular revolutionary element to the events, with literally millions of protesters coming out on Sunday and after, in the biggest demonstrations in Egyptian history. You can’t dismiss that as merely a coup d’etat from on top by a handful of officers.
But on Wednesday there was also a military coup, provoked by the officer corps’ increasing dissatisfaction with President Muhammad Morsi as well as a determination not to stand by as the country threatened to devolve into chaos, as rival street crowds confronted one another.
The assumption is that the size of the crowds, and perhaps the depth of their antagonisms, are beyond the civil police, thus requiring the Army to set in. The Army, as armies everywhere, are predisposed to violence as the method to resolve conflict.
It might be expected, the popular opinion that had turned against Morsi, which in due course turn against the Army and it methods for suppressing demonstrations. The ascent of the Army implies renewed American influence, with implications for the Gaza border. The business of writing a Constitution is usually a long drawn out one. James Madison and Thomas Jefferson probably had pretty much worked out it out before the Philadelphia Convention of 1787.
Juan Cole is confident:
There will be new presidential and parliamentary elections in the coming months.
The interim president is Adly Mansour, the acting chief justice of the Supreme Constitutional Court.
Freedom of the press will be guaranteed, he said, and a mechanism established to allow the youth to be partners in making policy decisions.
Al-Sisi said that the officer corps had been in dialogue with the various political parties and forces since the crisis of November, 2012, when Morsi abruptly declared himself above the law, then pushed through a non-consensual, somewhat theocrtic constitution (turnout for the referendum on it was only 30%), then tried to pack an upper house or Senate with Brotherhood members and sympathizers and use it to push through fundamentalist legislation. He said that all the political actors on the Egyptian stage showed a willingness to compromise to end the crisis except Morsi, who refused to show any flexibility.
Juan Cole is not alone, I imagine, in foreseeing that a democratic transition to democracy is not likely, a recipe for more conflict and failure to set the institutional framework to address the well being of the Egyptian people.
At The Young Turks, Ceng Uygur celebrates “people power”:
- Nathan J Brown, Where Does the Muslim Brotherhood Go from Here? (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)
- Christian Donath, It is not just Morsi, it is the entire political class. (Al Jazerra)
The opposition then has a great deal to complain about, but they also offer little in the way of an alternative vision. This is because there isn’t one single opposition. Instead there are liberals, secularists, members of the former regime, moderate Islamists, leftists, and fed up average people. Beyond getting Morsi out of office, these groups lack a unified political vision. As such, it is easy for Morsi’s supporters to frame the opposition as sore losers seeking to sow chaos and reestablish the former regime. It doesn’t help when some in the opposition call for the military to seize power.
- Al Jazerra’s live blog tracked events, including photos.
- Preliminary Thoughts on Egypt’s Coup/Revolution (menaobserveronline.wordpress.com)
- Gun attack on Cairo pro-Morsi rally kills 16 (thehimalayantimes.com)
- After the revolution: Egypt’s new head of state to be sworn in, with ousted president Mohammed Morsi under house arrest (metro.co.uk)