July 6, 2013

Painting Morsi As A Victim of A Coup Ignores The Bigger Picture

Photo Source: Reuters.
"Should a regime fall without mass mobilization, it is defined as a victim of a coup d'état, usually by a military cabal." - Ronald A Francisco, "Collective Action Theory And Empirical Evidence." Pg. 11. Published in 2010 by Springer. Source. Francisco is a professor of political science at the University of Kansas. He is also the author of "The Politics Of Regime Transitions."
The same newspapers and media outlets that are lamenting the fall of Egypt's first democratically-elected president and charge that it was a coup did not care about the sanctity of democratic institutions when the U.S. almost pulled off a coup in Venezuela more than a decade ago but was rebuffed by a vigilant and aware Venezuelan nation.

Those who examine the facts on the ground and look at the short-lived rule of Morsi and Muslim Brotherhood with a critical eye know that this was far from a coup. Anger against Morsi's leadership was building up to a tipping point and far-seeing analysts saw this coming.

The military alone can't get tens of millions Egyptians onto the streets to remove a president they don't like. Military leaders were responding to events and the force of public opinion. Was the military happy to nudge the protests along and see the Muslim Brotherhood suffer a defeat? Yes, but the unpopularity of Morsi and the Muslim Broterhood was their own doing. This is the bigger picture that many in the media are missing.

Morsi was doing unpopular things and damaging the reputation of Egypt by calling for a holy war in Syria against Assad and threatening an unnecessary war against Ethiopia over a Dam Project. Many people believe the dispute over the Nile is resolvable through negotiations, including the late Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.
If Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood had remained in power, Egypt might have been dragged into two wars. So the question that should be asked in this instance is not whether an action is good for democracy but whether it is good for the country. Keeping Morsi in power any longer would've hurt Egypt, and for many Egyptians their country is more valuable and sacred than the concept of democracy.

A country should be led by its best men in a crisis and Morsi proved through his actions that he did not belong in high office. It took less than a year for the Egyptian people to recognize Morsi's failings as a leader and they acted quickly to preserve their country.

Morsi was not "ousted" by the military; he was overthrown by his people with the helpful aid of the military. I know it's hard to believe in these cynical times but popular mass protests can lead to unforeseen political change.

Brazil's leadership responded quickly to the massive protests by promising to dedicate the country's oil wealth to education, health, and other government services.

Erdogan and the current Turkish leadership only managed to survive because they have a sizable electoral base and they are managing a delicate peace process with its Kurdish minority so the protest movement was not as large as it could have been. Also, Turkey's most powerful military critics are imprisoned.

Public opinion is not always the decisive factor in shaping political events, especially in a society used to a military dictatorship like Egypt, but angering tens of millions of Egyptians in a very short span as Morsi did surely didn't help his cause against the military in his last hours.

Coup or no coup, Morsi got what he deserved.