Today marks exactly one year since Mohammed Morsi won Egypt’s first (relatively) ‘democratic’ presidential elections. As Egypt’s economy continues its downward spiral, while political chaos and Muslim Brotherhood ineptitude remain the norm, life for most Egyptians over the past twelve months has scarcely improved. Tens of thousands of Egyptians are expected to take to the streets today in protest of the Muslim Brotherhood’s handling of Egypt’s ‘transition’. As Wael Eskandar observes,
It is no secret that the level of popular discontent with the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) reached an all time high. While the continuation of the Brotherhood rule is favorable to many of the powers that have a stake in Egypt, like the military, United States, and Israel, the political status quo seems unsustainable given the complete loss of legitimacy that the Muslim Brotherhood has suffered domestically.
Whether the Muslim Brotherhood’s loss of legitimacy is “complete” is of course debatable. What today’s protests do clearly suggest, however, is the depth of the crisis that pervades Egyptian politics – a crisis which is likely to continue in the foreseeable future. Interestingly, it would appear that the Military establishment is one of the few players in this game which might actually be benefitting from mass dissatisfaction with the Brotherhood. As veteran Egypt-watcher Robert Springborg writes in a recent piece aptly titled The More Things Change, The More They Remain The Same,
Whereas in June 2012 the Muslim Brotherhood’s popularity was strong and rising and that of the SCAF’s and the military’s more generally was sinking, by June 2013 popular support for the military has come to dwarf that of either the Brothers or the oppositionists. Leading opposition figures have for months been calling for officers to overthrow the Brotherhood. For its part the Brotherhood has coddled favor with the military by providing constitutional guarantees for its powers and privileges, deferring to it in matters of national security, and permitting if not actually facilitating its further expansion into the civilian economy. By appearing to be above politics, the military has succeeded brilliantly in restoring the nation’s faith in it while expanding its latent powers and positioning itself to be at least a pro-active political referee and, if need be, an actual political player.
Springborg concludes by noting that
Egypt, in sum, has been debilitated over the last year. Confidence has been lost in civilian political actors as they have demonstrated manifest inability to reach consensus and govern effectively. The inevitable corollary of civilian failure is the growing desire for the military to assume yet more direct roles in running the polity and the economy. Since that institution bears more responsibility than any other for Egypt’s endemic political and economic failures, the calls for it to grab once again the reins of power are a measure of the depth of despair and the degree to which the country has strayed from a viable development path.
(Wikimedia Commons image courtesy of Al Jazeera English)