Friday, July 05, 2013

Whither Egypt?

The unprecedented events in Egypt call for analysis, and there are many different interpretations to choose between. Here are some thoughts on the situation.

The Egyptian Army that was supposed to have been defanged by Pres. Morsi after his election, came back and bit him in the rear. There were really only two contenders for power in Egypt after the overthrow of Pres. Mubarak, the Army and the Muslim Brotherhood. When he was elected by the majority of Egyptians, Morsi wasted no time in firing the Army hierarchy and establishing MB superiority. However, the popular movement against Morsi enabled the Army to re-group and by supporting the insurrection against the MB, were able to exact their revenge. So basically this outcome can be seen as a coup by the Egyptian Army against the democratically elected President.

However, it is generally agreed that one election does not make a democracy. While it is true that Morsi was elected, it is equally true that the population of Egypt, especially in the cities, saw no major change in their situation, indeed the economic situation has considerably worsened in Egypt. Morsi has shown himself to be incapable of governing Egypt and improving the situation. His main success was in consolidating the power of the MB. This neither the secular components nor the Army could accept. Hence the insurrection against Morsi and the action of the Army. Note that not only did the Army remove the President, they also arrested several hundred MB leaders.

While the secular and westernized components of the Egyptian population are a minority, they, like in all other states, are concentrated in the cities, and they can bring the State to a standstill, as they did in Cairo and Alexandria. These are the people who want a better life, and are open to secularism and modernity. While they were not powerful enough to prevent the accession of Morsi in the first place, they came back after a year with enough fervor to bring the political situation to a stalemate. The Army was the only player that could act to change the balance and they took an anti-MB stand. They needed to protect their own interests as well as ensure that the b$1.5 military aid will keep flowing from the US.

What is good for the Jews? It's difficult to assess, certainly a vibrant and effective democracy in Egypt is in the long term interests of the US and Israel. But, to get there, there may be many twists and turns on the road. One of them is now going thru an effectively military government, which the Army said will be transient and replaced by a democratically elected one in a year. What if the MB were able to win again, or what if the MB decides to fight the Army for control of Egypt? Then you have a civil war and like in Syria it will be costly and murderous and leave Egypt in chaos for a generation at least. No one can say what will happen now, the potential outcomes are manifold and the future is uncertain.


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