Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Coup de etat in Egypt

By Farid Omar Egyptians have every right to bring down any totalitarian regime (Islamist or otherwise), but it should be through constitutional means, not a military coup d etat. With no disrespect for the Egyptian people, the plain truth is that what happened yesterday amounted to a military coup. The people pushed Morsi's regime to the brink but the military took full advantage and appointed a little known Justice Minister as interim leader. The military should have no business choosing leaders for the people of Egypt. There is nothing to celebrate about a military-appointed interim administration. To restore constitutional order, the people of Egypt should go back to the streets to demand the military-appointed leader step down. A coalition of opposition parties should be tasked with the responsibility of appointing an interim leader and an interim council to lead the transition to new democratic elections. If not, Egypt risks falling into a similar trap like Pakistan, where in the past, the military reserved the right to intervene anytime it felt a civilian administration was driving the country into "ruins." While it was a victory for the people of Egypt, we must also accept the disturbing reality that the coup d etat only served to entrench the Egyptian military's stranglehold on power. The downfall of Morsi has the footprints of the military all over it and if unchecked, it would set a dangerous precedent for Africa. The international solidarity movement should do the right thing. It must continue to support the people of Egypt in their struggle to democratize but should categorically condemn the coup d etat and call for a speedy return to constitutional order. The African Union should apply the same yardstick it has applied to other military instigated takeovers in the continent. It should suspend Egypt from the AU till a people-appointed interim leader takes over the reins of power. Despite the quest for a just, democratic society, the fact remains that Egypt is heavily dependent on hand outs in the form of billions of dollars of loans from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey etc that has pushed the country into massive debt. Hundreds of factories were closed down and thousands lost their jobs. In addition to political grievances, the economic downturn was at the heart of the Egyptian crisis. Morsi's successor is expected rely on more hand outs from wealthy countries in the region and may be pushed to implement a severely austere IMF aid package that the Morsi government refused to accept. This level of economic dependency would set the stage for further chaos in Egypt and the celebrations on the streets could be short-lived. For the people of Egypt to embrace a true revolution, they should seek economic alternatives (Beyond US and Mid East Aid) otherwise; the Egyptian state would remain subject to manipulation by external actors. No matter how much a section of the Egyptian population may hate Morsi, they should also realize that the current political environment still dominated by comprador elites holds no clear answers for the future. Much has been said of the necessity to overthrow the ruling elite, which is a necessary condition for a revolution. But in Egypt, the military and political elite are one. Since the military is still the key power broker in Egypt, there can be no revolution till the people topple the military itself. The military by far, is the greatest threat to Egyptian democracy. The victorious Egyptian people (sections of which were caught in pro-military chants yesterday) should now move ahead and remove the military's top brass from power through mass revolts in the streets.

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