Egypt: MILITARY COUP D’ETAT IN EGYPT–7 Immediate Consequences

The Egyptian military has just conducted a coup d’état, thus forcing out Mohammed Al-Morsi from power. It’s useful to remind the readers that Morsi was legitimately elected in a free and fair election a year ago.

There are no justifications for this military coup, or for any military coup, or for any intervention of the military in civilian democratic governance. None whatsoever. Those who claim that Morsi mismanaged the economy (which could be a valid claim, though he found when he took over the Egyptian economy was already in the tank) or overstepped his power, or was tone deaf to the demands of the opposition do not advance solid justifications for the intervention of the military and the coup. Moreover, all these grievances are normal political grievances found in any democracy and could have been resolved and dealt with through normal democratic and legal means and mechanisms that all democracies–including the Egyptian one–provide.

Moreover, those who argue that this is not a coup d’état, but an civilian inspired intervention of the military in politics to stop Egypt from descending into anarchy and chaos cannot change the fact that Egypt’s military transferred power illegally from a legitimately elected official and placed it in the hands of an unelected and illegitimate official. This is the definition of a coup d’état. And there is no further debate about that aspect of the event.

Having said that, what are the immediate consequences of this military coup d’état in Egypt & in the Arab/Muslim world?

1-High likelihood of a civil strife and civil war

Civil unrest, and a probable civil war, is very likely and sadly almost unavoidable. The supporters of Morsi will probably protest this coup. They will organize sit-ins in parks, streets, avenues and even  mosques. The military will somehow look away for a couple of months, but sooner or later will intervene forcibly to disperse  the protesters, and that would be the spark which would ignite the first round of violence, which, sadly, wouldn’t the last one. Even if the leaders of the MB have announced that they are against and do not support violence and have denounced it repeatedly, violence is more than likely to occur. In this case, who do we blame? The military or the radical wings of the Islamist movement? It’s clear to me that the blame should go first and foremost to those who organized this coup and stole the legitimate and democratic victory of the MB. After that, the blame game starts again, and we will soon not know who did what, why, and when. Sadly, this has always been the hallmark of the cycle of violence in almost all civil wars and civil strife. But as of now, the aggrieved are the member of the MB, and the aggressors are the military. This much is clear.

2-Victory of the radical wing of the Muslim Brotherhood and defeat of the moderate one

For decades, the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood has been engaged in a serious and tough internal debate to convince its rank and file that democracy is a valid and a legitimate means to arrive to power and do politics. During those years, there were divisions within the movement, the radicals were forced out, outnumbered and muted, and serious fights, fatwas and religious edits were issued to justify democracy, and undermine all alternative means that were so popular in the movement back in the 1960s and 70s. Those who won that debate are the biggest losers today since this coup will provide cover, support, and justification for the rhetoric of the radicals. So, we will probably see the revival of the radical wing of the Muslim Brotherhood which has never believed that Arab/Muslim autocrats would allow an Islamist Party to win elections and exercise power.

3-U.S. will be fairly or unfairly blamed for the coup d’état

The U.S and Israel will be directly or indirectly, fairly or unfairly, blamed for this coup. Even if the U.S did not have any involvement in the coup, the fact that it did not put sufficient pressures on the Egyptian military (with whom it has great relations) will be held against it. Already all over social media networks and Internet forums pictures of a collage of Mossadegh, Salvador Allende and Morsi are floating intimating that this was a coup designed in the West (you add to that Israel) and carried out by “their stooges”, the Egyptian military.

4-Good days ahead for Al-Qaeda

Al-Qaeda has just gotten a fresh batch of new recruits, slogans, narrative, and material. All that material will point an accusatory finger toward the U.S and accuse the U.S (and by extension Israel) for its hypocrisy–i.e., the U.S loves democracy only when it doesn’t involve Islamist Parties–and for being anti-Islam. The “I told you so” will be the new recruiting slogan for Al-Qaeda. Members of Al-Qaeda as well as its ideology never believed and/or supported democracy and have always undermined moderate and not so moderate Islamist political parties. Probably, the biggest blow to the Al-Qaeda as an ideology was the Arab Spring and the electoral victories of moderate Islamist parties in Tunisia and Egypt. However, Al-Qaeda’s biggest victory so far was handed to it by the Egyptian military today. I have no doubt that Al-Zawahiri is celebrating and dancing in his cave right now.

5-Delegitimization of future Islamist Parties in Egypt post Morsi’s MB

All Islamist Parties that choose to take part in future elections in Egypt will have no credibility, just like all Islamist Parties in Algeria now have lost all popular credibility and legitimacy. The loss of credibility will result from 2 sources: 1) the alleged mismanagement of the economy during Morsi’s first year in office (though it is extremely unfair to blame him for the economic situation since he inherited a collapsing economy); and 2) if the MB engages in violence, and clearly calls for a violent uprising against the military or loses control over its base. This will be held against the MB and will harm its political and social brand, and might even lead to its ban.

6-Delegitimization of democracy as a valid means of governance in Egypt

This is a deadly blow to democracy in Egypt. I am afraid that it might even be a complete delegitimization of the democratic process. Regardless of all the spin that we are listening to right now and is coming from Egypt notwithstanding, democracy has died tonight in Egypt. The consequences of that is the rise of an electoral authoritarian system with a democratic veneer, but with deep layers of authoritarian rules.  The freedom of the press, an independent judiciary, freedom of association and speech are, as of now, something of the past.

7-Chilling effect on new democracies in the Arab World and Sub-Saharan Africa

This coup will have a chilling effect on all new and fledgling democratization processes in Tunisia and Libya (there is also another effect that i will develop in future posts). The military in those countries (and in Sub-Saharan democracies as well) will feel emboldened by the Egyptian example. They will feel that they can intervene at any time in the political process to shape politics in the manner they see fit. Effectively, the military has become in the Arab World a very powerful veto player in civilian democratic governance. This is the death of democracy as we know it, and the rise of electoral authoritarianism, which will last a generation or two.

Video of president Morsi’s last speech moment before he was placed under house arrest

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