Hosni Mubarak, a dictator of 29 years lasted 18 days of protests in 2011. His successor Mohammed Morsi by contrast, the first democratically elected president in the country’s history, was in power for 1 year and 3 days, and lasted only 4 days of protests before he was overthrown by a coup d'état.
- Hosni Mubarak: For every 1 day of protest that he survived he ruled the country by force for 605 days.
- Mohamed Morsi: For every 1 day of protest that he survived he governed the country for 92 days.
That’s 605 days of dictatorship vs. 92 days of legitimate democracy. The crime is that if you’re a powerful dictator you are over 6 times more likely to maintain power than a legitimately elected leader.
The Wrong Precedent Set
Now it’s important to mention that democratically elected governments and presidents have fallen many times in many developed and north Atlantic countries in the past. A famous example of this was the former Republican President of the United States, Richard Nixon. In light of his complicity to cover-up and protect his party over the Watergate scandal, he resigned to avoid impeachment. Whether he resigned or had stayed on to face impeachment, the writing was on the wall: Just because you’re a democratically elected leader doesn’t mean you get to rule with impunity.
Nobody credible in the news media or anywhere else has suggested that because President Mohammed Morsi was democratically elected that he had absolute and irrevocable right to lead the people of Egypt for the full presidential term. But being forced to resign through political gridlock or through legal means is very different then to be forced out of office by the lingering arm of an ironfisted dictatorship.
The actions of the military in the last 2 days - the arrests, the crackdowns, the beatings, and the killings - resemble the actions of a virus which harms the ecosystem to which it is a part of.
In the January 25th revolution of 2011, approximately 50 people were losing their lives every day (the official figures are lower). That’s 900 people killed in 18 days of mostly peaceful protests nationwide. In contrast, after the coup d'état on 3rd of July 2013 and following the Army’s decision to clear pro-Morsi demonstrators, 500 people have died in the past two days (official toll).
- Egypt 2011: 900 killed in 18 days.
- Egypt 2013: 500 killed in 2 days.
Simply put these numbers are HORRIFIC, unprecedented and a huge setback for human rights, press freedom, political plurality, and progress in Egypt. This is a regional catastrophe and a global setback in the pursuit for indiscernibly but surely corroding the appeal of radical Islam in the Middle East.
Better Abdel Fattah el-Sisi or Mohammed Morsi? Rock and a Hard Place?
Some people both within and outside of Egypt are of the view that as bad as the Army is, the Brotherhood were worse. The main credible argument for this is that Islam, based on its dogmatic conventions, does not allow for political diversity… therefore they reason that a coup is the lesser of the two evils between a) an Islamic state or b) politics without Islam.
Although it is true that the Brotherhood’s vision of Egypt was fundamentally different to the aspirations of the jobless Egyptian youth of the Twitter and PlayStation generation that started the January 25th revolution in 2011; nevertheless it’s safe to say that Egyptian politics has no legitimate or credible future without the integration of the Muslim Brotherhood and political Islam into the national dialogue.
Likewise western governments who refrain from condemning the Egyptian army in the strongest terms in the next couple of days will - whether they understand it or not – be forfeiting their right to legitimately assert influence in the region.
So far less than 48 hours into the deaths, and Governments across the world have reacted critically on the crackdown even though the intensity of the outrage has not yet echoed the strength of my own resentment towards the actions of the Egyptian Army.
Washington and Brussels
Reactions coming out of both Washington and Brussels have been very weak up until this moment. But as I write this, there is a press release scheduled in 20 minutes where Barack Obama will address the issue to the global media. I’m fond of the President and for the sake of his country’s influence in the region I hope his reaction will be a lot more impactful then the comments of Secretary of State, John Kerry’s comments from yesterday.
The Net Effect of the Army’s Actions
I strongly condemn the actions of the Army in the strongest possible terms. From Cyprus I send my condolences to the families of all the dead and wounded.
As a result of their actions, I am strongly in the camp of the Muslim Brotherhood. I would like to see Mohammed Morsi reinstated to his post as president.
Turkey & the UNSC
It might be because of their own complicated past with the Army, but nevertheless I commend Recep Tayyip Erdogan for pushing a Security Council meeting on this issue today.