August 14, 2013

Apocalyptic Chaos In Egypt: Views From Various Perspectives

An excerpt from, "Leader of Egypt's ruling party says violent intervention necessary" [, August 15]:
It was estimated that tens of thousands of Morsi supporters were stationed in camps throughout the city. Mohammed Abul-Ghar [the leader of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party] said these supporters posed a threat to other Egyptian civilians and refused to negotiate.

‘They had arms, ammunition, and strong weapons and they built bunkers as if it was a real battlefield,’ he said of the Muslim Brotherhood. 

‘There were lots of negotiations with our party, other parties, with the government, with international diplomatic forces...trying to find a solution. The Muslim Brothers resisted any form of negotiation.’

‘There are sixteen [Coptic] churches burning to earth in Egypt today. What did the Christians of Egypt do to the Muslim Brothers?’
An excerpt from, "It only gets worse from here" by Issandr El Amrani [The Arabist, August 14]: 
In their strategy against the July 3 coup, the Brothers and their allies have relied on an implicit threat of violence or social breakdown (and the riling of their camp through sectarian discourse pitting the coup as a war on Islam, conveniently absolving themselves for their responsibility for a disastrous year), combined with the notion of democratic legitimacy, i.e. that they were after all elected and that, even if popular, it was still a coup. On the latter argument, they may have gained some ground over time both at home and abroad. But on the former, they got things very, very wrong: their opponents will welcome their camp's rhetorical and actual violence, and use it to whitewash their own.
An excerpt from, "Egypt: Repressing the Muslim Brotherhood" [Moon of Alabama, August 14]:
All attempts to find a political solution in recent weeks had failed. After today it is even less likely that that one will be found. The military will suppress any new Muslim Brotherhood activity and parts of the MB may consider to go underground and fight a guerrilla or terror war. That will only increase the pressure coming from the state. The political winner of the MB-military conflict will be the Salafi Nour party which had kept its followers away from the altercations. It has support from the Gulf states and the Egyptian economy currently depends on money from the Gulf. It is difficult to see how in the long term some balance between the transnational Islamic movements in Egypt and the nationalist, more secular forces can be found.
An excerpt from, "Egyptian Crowd Control in Action" by Colonel Patrick Lang [August 14]:
There is a lot of talk about "civil war" in Egypt. I don't think so. Egypt is not Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria. The fellahiin (peasant) descended masses are sulllen and have a proclivity for mob action but are not particulary brave. IMO the military and police will use maximum force to crush the MB and other salafi opponents as political forces. They will arrest and prosecute all the leaders they can find on various fanciful charges of treason, murder, corruption, etc. The salafi parties will be outlawed and driven underground. There, they will fester and occasionally carry out violent actions which will not affect the overall situation.
An excerpt from, "Brotherhood’s Scorched-Earth StrategyProvokes More Bloodshed" by Wael Nawara [Al Monitor, August 14]:
Was it worth it? This wide confrontation between the Egyptian state and the Islamists took place several times before, most notably, when Sadat was assassinated in 1981. Many people see this confrontation as imminent and unavoidable — and that if it was allowed to take place two or three years from now, the Muslim Brotherhood would have been able to infiltrate and split the army, and hopes for restoring order without dividing the country would have been slimmer. While we're now horrified by the death of hundreds, if the country were in a state of a civil war in which two armies fight, the death toll could climb from hundreds to hundreds of thousands.

Imposing a state of emergency for a month shows that the government has no illusions of a speedy and peaceful resolution to the situation. Will the Egyptian state withstand this testing moment? The state, which is in fact entrenched into the minds of Egyptians and their way of life, has seen and lived to tell the stories of difficult days like this before. Let us hope that Egypt, and every one of its people, lives to tell this one.

The conflict in Egypt is not a dispute over percentages of election gains. It's not about who rules. It's rather about “what to rule”: the state of Egypt — or the Brotherhood’s state.
An excerpt from, "Egyptian Police Clear Brotherhood Sit-Ins, at cost of Scores of deaths, injuries" by Juan Cole [August 14]:
The Egyptian press has been reporting for a couple of weeks that there were sharp divisions within the interim government regarding how to deal with the large Muslim Brotherhood sit-ins, which were demanding the reinstatement of deposed president Muhammad Morsi. The Interior Ministry, Gen. Mohammad Ibrahim Mustafa and the Defense Minister Gen Abdel Fattah al-Sisi wanted to use force to disperse the pro-Morsi demonstrators. Deputy Prime Minister Ziad Baha Eldin and Vice President for foreign affairs Mohamed Elbaradei are said to have called for a gradual approach, of simply not allowing anyone who left the square to return and counting on attrition to thin out the crowds over weeks. They argued that anything that looked like a massacre of Brotherhood members would weaken Egypt’s standing in Europe and the US. Others in the government wanted to disperse the crowds by force immediately. While last weekend it seemed that Elbaradei had prevailed, by Wednesday morning the hard liners had won out.
An excerpt from, "The Failed State of Egypt?" by Barak Barfi [, August 13]:
Just as damaging as Morsi’s governing style was the Muslim Brotherhood’s go-it-alone mentality. Decades of persecution have instilled in its leaders the belief that the world is aligned against them. Assuming power only stoked their paranoia.

The Brotherhood’s leaders believed that the United States and Egypt’s elite were bent on ensuring their failure. For this reason, they refused to reach out to their secular opponents to offer them a piece of the political pie. Even members of the more puritanical Islamist Nour Party were not invited to join the government.

But it was not only Brotherhood politicians – inexperienced in the ways of democracy (and skeptical of them) – who stumbled. The debate in the US, long Egypt’s primary ally and donor, did not center on strengthening Egypt’s embattled institutions, but focused instead on how to ease the military out of power by withholding aid. Multilateral lenders like the International Monetary Fund were fixated on fiscal reforms such as reducing costly subsidies rather than shoring up a beleaguered economy.