Thursday, August 15, 2013
Bad times in Big Egypt -- Arabist.net
Short and not at all sweet: August 14 in Egypt in numbers Ursula Lindsey Dead (according to Ministry of Health, and still counting): 525 Wounded: 3,500 Churches, monasteries, Christians schools and libraries attacked (Source) : 56 Days that Mohamed ElBaradei lasted as a civilian figure-head of the army-run "second revolution" before resigning in protest: 28 Other resignations: 0 Justifications presented by Egypt's non-Islamist media and political parties for the gratuitous murder of hundreds of their fellow citizens, and commendations of the security forces for their "steadfastness" and "restraint": too many to count A longer analysis that feels right: It only gets worse from here Issandr El Amrani You could ask a thousand questions about the violence that has shaken Egypt ... But the question that really bothers me is whether this escalation is planned to create a situation that will inevitably trigger more violence – that this is the desired goal. The fundamental flaw of the July 3 coup, and the reason those demonstrators that came out on June 30 against the Morsi administration were wrong to welcome it, is that it was based on an illusion. That illusion, at least among the liberal camp which is getting so much flak these days, was that even a partial return of the old army-led order could offer a chance to reboot the transition that took such a wrong turn after the fall of Hosni Mubarak on February 11, 2011. This camp believed that gradual reform, even of a much less ambitious nature than they desired in 2011, would be more likely to come by accommodating the old order than by allowing what they perceived as an arrangement between the military and the Islamists to continue. Better to focus on fixing the country, notably its economy, and preventing Morsi from sinking it altogether, and take the risk that part of the old order could come back. In this vision, a gradual transformation of the country could take place while preserving political stability through the armed forces. ... Unfortunately, among the broad liberal camp in Egypt, those who entertained such hopes are in a minority. Even among the National Salvation Front, as its obscene statement praising the police today showed, most appear to have relished the opportunity to crush the Muslim Brothers and appeared to believe that other Islamists could simply choose to be crushed alongside it, kowtow to the new order, or be pushed back into quietism. It appears that much of the business and traditional elite – represented politically by the Free Egyptians and the Wafd Party among others – falls into that category. They are joined by the security establishment, or deep state if you prefer. Over the last week there was much talk of divisions between this segment and those symbolically important liberal members of the government, such as ElBaradei, over whether or not to negotiate with the Brothers or break their sit-ins. The camp that eventually won does not just believe that the Brothers are not worth negotiating with. They want to encourage it in its provocative sectarian discourse, its supporters desire for violence, and the push as much as the Islamist camp as possible into being outlaws. ... Their thinking is cynical in the extreme, not unlike Bashar al-Assad's push towards militarizing the political conflict he faced in 2011. They are willing to live with the violence, impact on the economy, and other downsides if it strengthens their own power and legitimacy. ... 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.