By July 30, 2013 Read More →
Counting the Cost of Military intervention in Egypt

Counting the Cost of Military intervention in Egypt

The recent upsurge in violence has brought Egypt back into the headlines. Over 1,000 people have been killed in the past week, mainly supporters of Muhammad Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. Before venturing into analysis of the implications of recent events, some background might be helpful. As one might expect, the Brotherhood’s fall from power earlier this summer has occasioned a flurry of commentary and analysis. Much of the attention has been caught up in a debate over semantics: was it a “coup” or not?

While some have agued that he question distracts from debating the complex realities of Egypt’s predicament, it is worth pondering. Technically speaking, Morsi’s removal from office was a coup d’état: a forced seizure of power by the military from an elected president. BUT this was only made possible by the millions of Egyptians who took to the streets to protest the Muslim Brotherhood’s crass ineptitude and mismanagement of Egypt’s transition to a more inclusive political and economic order. The editors at MERIP have provided one of the more lucid accounts of recent events:

In Egypt on July 3, the army deposed an elected president, arrested him and several other members of his party, closed down the media outlets sympathetic to him and set about installing a new government. On July 8, the army fired live ammunition on the ex-president’s demonstrating supporters, killing more than 50. These actions were flagrantly anti-democratic, and no one with a pluralist vision for Egypt can applaud them. As during its direct misrule in 2011-2012, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has torn a hole in the national fabric and set back the development of “normal” participatory politics. Yet there remains ample reason to believe that their coup is a moment in a long process of social and political transformation that will continue for years to come.

The movement aiming to compel Muhammad Mursi’s resignation, for one thing, was not bent on achieving its goal through military intervention, although a number of activists knew that was a possible outcome. The coalition was exceptionally broad and diverse — women and men, young and old, opponents of Husni Mubarak’s regime and dregs of it, Coptic Christians and hardline Islamists, communists and free marketeers, anti-American nationalists and State Department darlings. Incredibly, its street presence was larger than the epochal 18-day uprising that unseated Mubarak in 2011. The Tamarrud campaign that provided the movement’s formal program claimed 22 million signatures on its petition. Whether one credits this figure or not, there is no doubt that anti-Mursi organizers tapped a deep vein of fury in the population.

The situation has shown little improvement since, as rival factions have battled it out in Egypt’s streets. As Wael Eskandar writes,

While the ongoing violence in Egypt has contributed to a state of confusion and polarization, one thing is certain: The biggest threat facing Egypt remains the return of the police state. More specifically, the threat concerns, not only the reconstitution of a police state, which never really left since Hosni Mubarak’s ouster, but also the return of the implicit, if not overt, acceptance of the repressive practices of the coercive apparatus. In this respect, the current face-off between the state and the Muslim Brotherhood holds very damaging potential. Widespread anti- Muslim Brotherhood sentiment is currently providing the state with legitimacy to use of force against the Brotherhood, and, in the future, a potential cover for using similar tactics against other dissidents as well.

Writing for the NYT, David Kirkpatrick, Peter Baker and Michael Gordon have provided one of the most lucid accounts of ongoing international efforts – which so far have failed – to defuse the standoff between the military and the brotherhood.

Read More:

David Kirkpatrick, Peter Baker and Michael Gordon – How American Hopes for a Deal in Egypt Were Undercut – NYT

Wael Eskandar – The Revenge of the Police State – Jadaliyya

Usrula Lindsay – On Egypt’s Failure – The Arabist

Farah Halime – A Year In Office: Morsi’s Economic Mistakes – Rebel Economy

Ziad Daoud – Morsi’s Deadly Economic Sin – Awraq

Joshua Stacher – The World According to Beblawi – MERIP Blog

Bassam Haddad and Hossam El-Hamalawi – Is the Egyptian Revolution Aborted? – Jadaliyya (video)

Brian Whitaker – Egypt’s Floundering Economy – Al Bab

Egypt in Year Three – MERIP

(Wikimedia Commons image courtesy of The Egyptian Liberal)

Posted in: Egypt, Middle East

About the Author:

William Oliver is Nabateans’ editor for international economics and Middle East current affairs. He obtained his degree in History from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. While his studies focused on the Middle East in the 18th and 19th centuries, William has a long-standing interest in international finance and the political economy of development. William’s work is aimed at understanding how the Middle East integrates with the global economy, and into the wider geopolitical landscape.

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