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Recommended: Why the Anti-Mursi Protesters are Right

1:49 pm in Uncategorized by szielinski

Mohamed Morsi Isa El-Ayyat

In a recent article author Ahmad Shokr persuasively argued that the noisy opponents of the Morsi dictatorship are right to contest his elected government, his dictatorship and the constitution he and his allies wish to impose on Egypt. Shokr develops his critique by rejecting three common claims made by defenders of and reporters on the Morsi coup d’état. They are:

  • “The rival camps in Egypt embody a divide between Islamism and secularism.”
  • “Islamists are authentic representatives of the majority of Egyptians.”
  • “Mursi has made great strides toward civilian democracy and his downfall would mean a return to military rule.”

The first two claims are internally related. Shokr considers false the claim that most of Morsi’s opponents are secularists bent on thwarting the creation of an Egyptian state which legally expresses Islamic Law (or shari‘a). Morsi’s opponents are, according to Shokr, opponents of the Muslim Brotherhood, not political Islam as such. The differences between the sides are political, not religious. (Parenthetically, it cannot be stated as a matter of settled fact that political Islam is a kind of anti-democracy or that Islamists necessarily oppose democracy and liberalism. This belief is rapidly becoming a self-serving canard for Islam-haters, and should be rejected as a reality obscuring prejudgment). In other words, the conflict roiling Egypt is not confessional in nature; Morsi’s opponents are, in fact, Muslims.

It follows from the above that the Muslim Brotherhood is not the authentic representative of the majority of Egyptians. Its politics does not exhaust the possible forms political Islam could have in Egypt. It has never won an election with a supermajority.

That said, the origin of the current crisis ought to be obvious:

By granting himself sweeping powers and rushing to call for a December 15 referendum on the new constitution, Mursi has given Egyptians a stark choice between being ruled by an unrepresentative constitution or by a dictator. Many have refused this kind of political blackmail. Leading opposition figures, many of who were dissidents under Mubarak, have called on Mursi to revoke the decree and open the constitution drafting process to broader input. Egyptian human rights groups have almost unanimously echoed these demands. Tens of thousands who joined the protests that brought down Mubarak are back on the streets. Their fight is not for an ill-defined secularism so much as it is for political inclusion and democracy.

As Shokr points out later on, Egypt is diversely composed, and many components therein have refused to accept the dilemma Morsi wants to impose on them: Dictatorship or constitutional imposition. Egypt’s constitution ought to reflect the existence of this diversity if it wishes to avoid generating illegitimate government and another revolutionary spring.

Finally, it cannot be said that Morsi’s actions were meant to secure Egyptian democracy against a military apparatus wishing to directly rule the country. Nor can it be said that the Morsi government gained an electoral mandate to impose its will on the country. What can be said, according to Shokr’s analysis, is that the Muslim Brotherhood has already collaborated with the military to secure the military’s prerogatives under the constitution and to protect the military by providing a political buffer zone between the military and Egyptian civil society. To put the matter in different terms, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Morsi government have collaborated with institutions which pose intrinsic threats to Egyptian democracy and the rule of law.

The stakes are high, and can be encapsulated in this predicament: Will Egypt complete the transition from Mubarak’s authoritarian regime to a consolidated democracy or will it eventually — soon — produce another authoritarian regime, this one dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, its allies and the military?

As of this moment, Egypt’s military has already suggested that “disastrous consequences” (read: martial law) may result if the conflict continues. To be sure, this tacit threat benefits Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.

 

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Birth of dictator

12:53 pm in Uncategorized by szielinski

It has been widely reported that Mohamed Morsi, the first democratically elected president of Egypt and a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, has claimed new and extensive powers, doing so, it has been stated, in response to impasse of Egypt’s Second Constituent Assembly and to persistent street violence. An English language version of Morsi’s Constitutional Declaration can be found here. His subsequent explanation for his deed: “He told… [his followers] he was leading Egypt on a path to ‘freedom and democracy’ and was the guardian of stability.” We should interpret his actions while remembering that coups affirm neither democracy nor stability. They do, however, affirm the coercive power of the state.

Morsi’s auto-golpe will replace the rule of law with rule by decree and, to be sure, Egypt’s transition to democratic governance with a putatively limited dictatorship. Obviously, secularists and those groups who wish for or need social and political pluralism fear the instauration of a constituent dictatorship serving the interests of Egypt’s Islamists or the sectarian interests of the Freedom and Justice Party. Some have already taken their opposition to Morsi’s recent coup to the street. We should recall here that Egypt’s revolution originated in a divided society and that Morsi gained the Presidency with a thin victory margin in a runoff election. He has, at best, only weak popular support, although we might suspect that the recently purged Egyptian Armed Forces affirmed the November 22 coup. So far, the United States has only faintly criticized the coup.

Situations like this can end badly, as recent history has so often demonstrated.

Egyptians oppose their new dictator

 

Someone gave a proper order to a few very current events

10:22 am in Uncategorized by szielinski

Chris Floyd had the honor:

The uprising in Egypt on Tuesday is of infinitely greater importance than the goon show staged by the corporate-lackey-in-chief and the great mooing herd of cud-chewers in Congress the same night. For decades, the remarkably brutal — and rottenly stagnant — dictatorship in Egypt has been one of linchpins of Washington’s never-ending effort to “project dominance” over the Middle East. If the Cairo regime falls to a popular revolution, it will send shock waves all through the world-spanning tentacles of the American Empire.

So, while Barack Obama exhorted Americans to suck it up and to firmly grab their bootstraps — “The future is ours to win.” and “It [the future] has required each generation to sacrifice, and struggle and meet the demands of a new age.” — parts of the world were then forcing the American Eagle to retract his claws.

Blowback? Yes, indeed! Expected? Yes, at least by some. Welcomed? Yes, by many, for retrenchment of this kind is both inevitable and timely. It’s inevitable because the United States cannot afford to engage forever in wars of conquest and pacification, especially since these will remain wars which it will never truly win. This incapacity can be explained by the fact that both global political and military power presuppose a globally significant economic power by the country that would be a world power. Yet having economic power of this magnitude is something which America can only watch dissipate while this economic power passes eastward from its hands to China and India’s. It’s timely because, for decades, America’s global empire garroted America’s modestly democratic institutions while it has also wasted the lives of millions of Americans and millions more of those targeted by Uncle Sam’s juggernaut. Americans should never forget that the United States was the Rogue State in the world, one that was too powerful to resist by most of the Lilliputians who confronted it. Fortunately, successfully resisting the Rogue Power has since become a feasible goal for those willing to fight and die for their political project. This is their moment. This is America’s descent to a condition of unexceptional existence.

As his speech neared its conclusion, Obama the myth-monger (on which, see this, this, this, this, this) exclaimed, “We do big things.” Indeed, America has done many big things over the course of its history. In making this claim Obama clearly meant to convey to his audiences that he was hopeful about the future. Nevertheless, America will fail spectacularly simply because it does so many things in a very big way, as Floyd suggests in his conclusion:

Poor Barack. Not that long ago, he was taking the world stage in Cairo, with a speech that offered a “new start” in relations to the regions — empty words which have long since proved to have been just another part of the vicious deceptions currently being exposed by al Jazeera. Now Cairo is ablaze with the promise of a genuine new start, driven by the needs of ordinary people, not the greeds of the elite. More than ever, Obama looks like yesterday’s man, abandoned by history as it sweeps forward, leaving him mired with the goons and the loons, fighting a rearguard action to save the pomps and privileges of a rotting empire.

This article was cross-posted at All Tied Up and Nowhere to Go