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article imageOp-Ed: Experts on developments in Egypt

By Ken Hanly     Aug 14, 2013 in World
Cairo - The number of those killed in violence across Egypt, as security forces crackdown on pro-Morsi demonstrators, is continually rising. The violence of the security forces may be met by more violence from supporters of Morsi.
The recent wave of unrest in Egypt began after huge demonstrations against the Morsi government and a subsequent overthrow of his regime by the military led by General SIsi, with Morsi still being held by the military. He may face charges from his role in jail breaks during the overthrow of the Mubarak regime. The coup brought numerous protests from those supporting Morsi who claim that the new interim government lacks legitimacy and that any solution and reconciliation must involve first restoring Morsi.
While figures on casualties from the recent crackdown vary, Global News reports at least 149 people killed. Many secularists and liberals supported the coup, with Mohammed El Baradei even saying that the ouster of Morsi on July 3 was not a coup:“When you have 20 million people calling on Mr. Morsi to leave, and the army had to step in to avoid a civil war, does that make it a coup d’état? Of course not, " El Baradei obviously deserved a prime position in the army-supported interim government. While he was not made interim president he was made vice-president. Now, in reaction to the violent crackdown on pro-Morsi demonstrators, he has resigned his position.
To some liberals, at least, the crackdown has revealed the old army that existed under Mubarak's long rule as still the real power in Egypt. This was further confirmed by the fact that just recently of 25 provincial governors named 19 are generals with 17 from the military and 2 from the police. Some of them have spotty histories. Al Jazeera has an interesting article in which six different experts comment on recent developments in Egypt. I will consider just a few aspects of their analysis. The entire article is well worth reading.
Most of the experts consider the crackdown as a disaster and a setback for any progress of Egypt towards a more democratic system. Several, especially Mark Levine of the University of California Irvine, trace the present division and violence to actions of Morsi while he was president.
Professor John Esposito a professor at Georgetown University sees the crackdown as showing the true colours of the coup. There is now a military-backed authoritarian government exhibiting all the brutality exhibited by past regimes. He takes to task liberals including El Baradei who supported the coup. He thinks that promises of inclusion, and elections ring hollow. He says that the only way forward is to reinstitute the democratic process. However, since he sees the coup promise of such a move as hollow, the only alternative would be to support the pro-Morsi camp position of reinstating him as president, although Esposito does not explicitly suggest that. In fact the likelihood of that happening seems quite remote given the present constellation of forces in Egypt.
Phyllis Bennis is a fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies. As with other experts, Bennis claims that the crackdown, together with the declaration of a state of emergency, show that Egypt is once again "under the thumb of military authoritarianism". However, she thinks that Egypt has undergone great changes since the overthrow of Mubarak and that people will simply not put up with the military rule.
Bennis admits that Egypt is now very much a divided country but she claims that the Muslim Brotherhood and the liberal and secular comrades who were with them in solidarity against Mubarak will recall that unity: The memory of the unity of January 2011, and the power that unity created, is not likely to fade quickly. Surely the evidence shows that that memory is not just faded but completely extinguished and replaced by a demonizing of the Brotherhood among most who were with them in Tahrir square.
As mentioned earlier, Mark Levine of the University of California lays much of the blame for the situation on actions taken by Morsi during his presidency. He has an entire article in Al Jazeera in which he goes into some detail on this issue. Morsi showed no tendency towards inclusiveness and bowed to no one except the army. It should be noted though that in some cases he was frustrated by the Mubarak era judiciary. However, Levine sees developments as basically resulting from the violence, chauvinism, exploitation, and authoritarianism that dominates social, economic, and political life in Egypt. What was needed after the revolution was a truth and reconciliation commission according to Levine.
Levine sees the two opposing groups as continuing on a trajectory that simply will increase military power, part of the deep state as he puts it. Egypt will probably return to what was normal for decades "a state of emergency". The foreign interests that wield power in Egypt will do nothing positive: Meanwhile, the military's foreign patrons and supporters sit on their hands, unable to deal forcefully with a disaster they helped create by continuously putting "stability" and their own interests ahead of a truly democratic transition. The only hope that Levine sees is that the people of Egypt again unite again for "bread, freedom, dignity and social justice". However, that outcome seems extremely unlikely given the present situation in Egypt.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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