Friday 16 August 2013

Is it “too late” for Egypt?

Wednesday was a long and gory day. All Egypt-lovers wished it would be sidestepped.
But all Egypt-watchers saw the day coming. Slamming the door shut tempts people to break it open.
It was difficult for two authorities to cohabitate in Egypt -- one headquartered in the palace and the other in Adawiya.
It was tough for the interim administration to tolerate a scene suggesting a face-off between two “legitimacies.”
The sit-ins were eroding the mandate sought and won by the interim administration.
At the same time, it was far from easy for the Muslim Brotherhood to consider Mohamed Morsi’s tenure a closed chapter. The defeat was more spectacular than the Brotherhood could bear. Its response was a mixture of bitterness and anger.
It reacted as if a tank storming the palace brought down Morsi. It did not try to understand that Morsi fell under the weight of a quasi-revolution and a quasi-coup.
It refused to notice the millions who gathered to give someone else authority to act. On that day, it only noted the portrait of Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
The Brotherhood did not perceive the decision to clear out the sit-ins as part of the authorization decision. It chose to break the will of both the mandated and mandating sides – namely, the millions of its detractors and the Military Establishment.
The Muslim Brotherhood dealt with internal and external mediations by setting the greatest possible demand. It never accepted anything short of Morsi’s reinstatement, meaning a full defeat of its opponents.
The Brotherhood behaved as an injured person so overcome by his wound as to refuse anything liable to alleviate his pain or cut his risks.
The Brotherhood could have embarrassed its opponents if it had capitalized on the mediations to propose a solution that would have made it hard for the interim administration to clear out the sit-ins.
It speculated that the price of disbanding the sit-ins would be so prohibitive as to deter the interim administration from implementing it.
The Brotherhood gambled when it insisted on recouping the presidential palace.
It left the interim administration no choice other than to crack down on the protest camps.
It let pass the fact it had clashed with most Egyptians before clashing with the police and the army.
It closed the eyes to the fact Sisi would not have asked directly for the peoples’ authorization if he, and the Military Establishment, did not feel the majority of Egyptians were intimidated by the Brothers’ rule. So much so that most Egyptians were willing to accept any measure to end their governance, even at the expense of dispersing an elected president’s administration.
The Brotherhood shut its ears to voices that spent months warning against exclusion, empowerment, Brotherhood-ization, reshaping the Egyptian citizens’ characteristics and manipulating Egypt’s spirit.
Any observer of developments in Egypt since the last days of Hosni Mubarak’s administration is aware that risk-taking by the Brothers started before Morsi.
The first gamble was when the decision was made to field a Brotherhood candidate in the presidential race and discounting chances the move would overburden Egypt and exceed its tolerance capacity.
This is due to the clout of revolution-breeders and makers, the Military Establishment’s deep roots and Egypt’s commitments resulting from its geographic position and economic conditions.
The degree of risk-taking deepened when the Muslim Brotherhood chose to singlehandedly share with the government of Hesham Qandil the burden of an extremely thorny transition.
Morsi found no effective partners and the Brotherhood didn’t help him unearth them.
He looked like dancing solo and dealing unattended with such files as the constitution, the judiciary and the rapport with the Military Establishment.
This risk-taking also led to loss of the compass, poor performance, a lack of perception and a dearth of cadres.
In politics, the Brotherhood or an individual has no right to push people to commit suicide and self-destruct the country. In politics, it is imperative to manage losses in the absence of profit.
Pictures of victims might serve a purpose. Numbers of martyrs and funerals might delay questions being asked and temporarily put off accountability for gambles made and responsibilities assumed.
But fact is the Brotherhood crossed swords with millions of Egyptians before coming under police fire.
Going forward, the greatest danger for Egypt is the Brothers’ acting with the “too late” mentality; that they have no choice other than confrontation, unrest, fires and other civil war practices; and that they can count on American and Western condemnations of the crackdown on protest camps.
Despite the inflamed feelings, the current leadership should avoid a victor’s arrogance, the “too late” approach and the politics of force.
The mandate that allowed the interim administration to clear out the sit-ins also demanded a constitution embracing all Egyptians, a revisit to the ballot box and free and transparent elections.
A return to the “too late” dictum is impermissible.
The priority now is to prevent a civil war and shut out Algerian scenes.