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Egypt: Story Arcs

By on Feb 1, 2014 in Politics | 0 comments

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Obligatory recap

It’s difficult to know how far back to go – but let’s just say this; it’s January 2014, the Post-Morsi constitution has passed, with a (ridiculously) high approval, but a relatively low turnout. Now a Field Marshall (just promoted a few days ago, and active today), El-Sisi, the man who was instrumental in removing Morsi from power on July 3rd, is expected to become the new president.

Plot Points To Consider

El-Sisi had initially stated that there would be no military candidate, and that having one would imply that the army had performed the coup for personal interests, and not as a means for fulfilling the popular demands of June 30th.

Despite having obtained a popular mandate on July 26th to wipe out terrorism, Egyptian today feel less secure than they ever have since the revolution began. It has not been reassuring for them to see that the response of the security apparatus has been focused on fortifying their own buildings and personnel.

El-Sisi was later asked about his candidacy again, and this time, he said that it was not the ‘right time’ for ‘those sort of questions’ – this did several things; it fuelled the possibility that he would run, and it laid a thick cloud of mystery around this leviathan of a candidate that effectively paralyzed the entire political process – lending an almost absurd bravado to Hamdeen Sabahy’s sometimes confident assertions that he would, indeed, still run against him.

Whether Ansar Beit El Maqdis exist, or whether they turn out to the be Kaiser Soze of Egypt, one thing remains certain, bombs are going off. Nobody likes that, nobody likes them increasing. Most people overtly blame the terrorists for that, but everybody covertly blames the police for being so damn bad at their job.

It must be said, however, that for every X bombs that do go off, the police almost always claim to have defused/found/intercepted another X bombs – implying that either the rise in potential bombings is far more horrific than we’ve experienced or that they make these claims to make it at least look like they’re performing at, say 50. In both cases, they are failing to stop bombings, while at the same time, arresting activists, and searching people’s homes because they saw someone taking photographs from a balcony. This is the area where we also run into grand international conspiracies involving storks, and puppets of grouchy old ladies, absurd actions lent a surreal credence by the way they’re handled through the media. The TV show host does not interview the creator of the puppet, he interviews the puppet. Again, this is happening while, on the streets, blood spillage has become a daily thing….

The acting, if temporary, president, Adly Mansour came out in a speech, and clearly spoke of detainees, and the need for prompt processes of justice. Shortly after his speech, the presidential spokesman came out, and said that when Mansour said ‘detainees’ – he had meant ‘people arrested for whom the charges are still getting processed’ – and not what the word ‘detainees’ usually implies; prisoners held with no due-process whatsoever, usually for political purposes. Later on during the day, the Public Prosecutor came out and said there were no ‘detainees’ in the system. All of which would make for an intriguing drama if not for one fact; Adly Mansour, is a judge. He is a Supreme Court Justice. His words do not come out by accident, and he knows damn well what a detainee is.

So yeah, that happened too…

Then you have the students.

Sure, the protests might have been initially motivated by mostly Pro-Morsi students, but the predictable brutality of the security forces has doubtless dragged far more students into the battle. The Egyptian streets are slowly becoming, one again, a battleground in which the ministry of the interior wars against the youth.

History would be a plot point in this story, since, at some point, you would expect a character to have an epiphany in which he realizes that he’s not supposed to be trying to re-enact the past, he’s supposed to he trying to re-write it – but that doesn’t seem to happen. It seems to be a plot point that belongs somewhere out there, within a far lighter story. Here, history does not serve as an example, it serves instead a template, and the mistakes are not novel; they are stupid, inevitable, and painful.

Story Directions

You’ve got a camp that believes El-Sisi is at the very least necessary. That he is a strong man, and we need a strong man. That the strong man will wipe out the terrorists. This will result in the fabled, much missed, stability. Tourists will flock. Business will thrive. We all boogie.

Time Span To Stability: 4-8 years.

You’ve got a camp that believes that El-Sisi has already shown how he will deal with the situation; brutally – an almost exclusively security-based approach that so far has failed to stop the problem, and so far has been refracted through the media into a tone that is radicalizing any previously peaceful opposition. It is a method that, arguably, turns protesters into terrorists, and certainly pre-disposes all security personnel to treat them as such.

Time Span To Stability: 12-20 years.

Questions:

Are the revolutionaries out of the picture?

There is no spoon.

How many people still belong in the revolutionary camp?

Again, there is no magical way to determine who’s feeling dormant, passive, active, or revolutionary at any given moment in time – but we can try to estimate the latent core.

Here are some Fuzzy Indicators:

During the 2nd round of presidential elections, when it was a choice between Morsi and Regime-Man Shafiq, 7 million voters who did had not voted for Morsi in the 1st round went and voted for him simply to defeat Shafiq. Those are arguably, 7 million voters who are not loyal to the Muslim Brotherhood at all, but who, at least, were¸ against the regime.

Millions came down to the streets on Jan 25th, 2012 – and they did so against Military Rule. Both the Armed Forces and the Muslim Brotherhood (closely allied at the time) tried to portray it as a day of celebrations across the country; but that was not the story on the streets. On the streets it was about refusing to be ruled by the military, refusing military trials for civilians, rejecting the betrayal of the revolution by the Muslim Brotherhood, rejecting a constitution that was being tailored to both of them to the exclusion of all other Egyptians, majorities and minorities. Those millions have not disappeared.

Egypt’s mortality rates and healthcare are pathetic, the end result of this, however, is that 20% of the population is between the ages of 24-15, and another 32% below that. The median age in Egypt is 24.8 years old.

Who wins?

It’s a fight. Murder happens. Everybody loses.

Yes, but who wins.

The revolution, by which I mean, the youth.

Why?

They have Time.

What are the possible advantages of a Sisi presidency?

To whom? To Sisi loyalists, the question must be raised; what is it that you want him to be able to do that he can’t do now? There seems to be very little to gain, and very much to put at risk.

To those who don’t want military rule; the silver lining in this particular cloud is that perhaps a Sisi presidency will finally destroy all the illusions about the army, much as the Morsi presidency destroyed those of the Muslim Brotherhood.

What are the possible disadvantages of a Sisi presidency?

It looks, acts, and kills like a coup. It turns the armed forces into a de-facto political party with guns. It risks costing the army as much as the Morsi presidency cost the Muslim Brotherhood. If a regular president is seen to fail, the army is untouched. If a regular president is seen as lying, or deceitful, the army is still untouched. Now, anything El-Sisi does will reflect directly on the army.

This move also gives strength to almost every argument the Anti-Coup Alliance has been making, and if the ‘morale’ department in the military isn’t aware of this, then I’d be very surprised. There is nothing that would serve as a better recruiting tool for violent opposition than a Sisi presidency.

But he’ll resign first, so he won’t be part of the military, right?

Funny.

On a more serious note, once he’s president he’s officially the High Commander of the Armed Forces.

So what do we do?

Watch this video, it’s a lot more fun –

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-84vuR1f90

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