Musings —07.06.2013 09:40 PM—
“There will be lots of blood.”
That’s what the Egyptian man in Cairo, working for a Canadian telecommunications company, has just said. “There will be blood,” he said, matter-of-factly discussing the fate of Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi. “The army will support the people.”
It was back in May, and the young Egyptian was calm, his tone almost indifferent, as if he were discussing the weather. “It is very bad, here,” he told his Canadian inquisitor. “There will be blood spilled before too long.”
A coup was imminent, he explained, because “everything” was bad in Egypt. Crime was rampant, and the economy was in shambles. There were food shortages, and lineups for gas. Inflation, division, uncertainty: Egypt, he said, had it all. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Morsi would be driven out of power by the armed forces, he concluded. It was just a matter of time.
Not too much time, as things turned out.
As the world now knows, my amateur Egyptian analyst was quite prescient: Last Wednesday, Mursi was deposed in a military coup — and thousands jammed into Tahrir Square, to cheer … what? The end of Mursi? The end of the Muslim Brotherhood? The end of democracy?
Because, make no mistake, it is democracy that has received a near-fatal blow in Egypt. Mohamed Mursi was the first — note that well, the first — democratically elected president in Egypt’s history.
However much he was despised by his fellow citizens (for his rank incompetence) or by Islamaphobes in the West (for his Muslim Brotherhood pedigree) that much cannot be disputed: Mursi was a democrat, and democratically elected. Now he, and his Brotherhood, will likely come to believe that democracy is a farce — and become radicalized.
Watching CNN’s Wolf Blitzer attempting to analyze the latest chapter in the Egyptian drama, on Wednesday evening, was comedic.
“This is a historic event,” he chirped, over and over, as if a military coup overthrowing democracy was somehow something to celebrate.
It isn’t, Wolf, not at all.
And, watching the throngs in Tahrir Square — where one goes (if you’re male) to demand political change, or (if you’re a woman) to be sexually assaulted by a mob — one could not help but ask: “Are the people today celebrating a military coup not the same people who were demanding democracy, in the same square, just two years ago?”
And, of course, they are. It is my Shiny Ball Theory of politics: Sometimes — and for no logical reason whatsoever, and not just in Egypt — people will chase after the latest faddish thing, and against their own self-interests.
Because it is “new.” Because it is different. Because they are unaware, or uncaring, that they are removing one yoke just to take on another (heavier) yoke.
Meet the new boss, worse than the old boss, etc.
The notion that the grass is always greener on the other side isn’t a new one, nor is it a uniquely Egyptian phenomenon.
But, watching the unfolding events in Egypt, we are reminded that it can often lead to spectacularly disastrous results. In a country of 80 million, with no single opposition voice and no clear sense of where Egypt is heading, it is difficult to believe that further bloodshed can now be avoided.
Democracy is imperfect, and, of course, so too are the Muslim Brotherhood and Mohamed Mursi.
During their short tenure, however, the Brotherhood and Mursi did not renege on the peace treaty with Israel — and they dealt with Hamas and anti-Israel elements with brutal efficiency.
Outside Egypt, it should be recalled that they were a comparatively stabilizing influence.
Inside Egypt, however, they were not. Economic and social chaos were Muorsi’s most enduring domestic legacy. In the short term, he and his Muslim Brotherhood will not be missed. In the long term, however, there will indeed be blood.
On that point, our young Cairo resident unfortunately has it right.