Friday, July 19, 2013

In Egypt Legitimacy is on First, Who is on Second, and I Don't Know is on Third

We have our own belief in the democratic system and we are willing to die for it.
Gehad El-Haddad, advisor and spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood

Some want a bloody path. We will battle for security to the end.
Adli Mansour, Interim president of Egypt

Well it looks as if everyone in Egypt is willing to die and battle to the end. Of course it is highly doubtful either Mr. El-Haddad, or Mr. Mansour will be on the front lines any time soon. No, hundreds, if not thousands, will be gone before someone gets around to them. That is the way these things work.

All this willingness to sacrifice one's self came about when the Egyptian military responded to hundreds of thousands of protesters in the streets and removed the country's first freely elected president, Mohammed Morsi. Egypt has been around as a nation roughly 5,200 years. Mr. Morsi lasted in office for one of them.

The Muslim Brotherhood, Morsi's old outfit and its allies have formed a united front called the, "National Alliance for Legitimacy." It issued a statement saying, "To every free Egyptian man and woman: Come out against the bloody military coup." Plans for mass pro Morsi demonstrations are set for today, although El-Haddad seems ready to distance the movement from the deposed president. NBC News quoted him as saying, "It is not about Morsi anymore. The people had a set of choices and they voted. I accept that Morsi wasn't doing a very good job, but the president of France hasn't been doing a very good job, but they don't take him down with the army."

Whether we like the brotherhood or not, he has a point. In another quote he said, "The military has no right to decide which protest is worthy enough to represent the people."

Indeed, the truth is the Brotherhood's supporters have put nearly as many people in the streets as the anti Morsi forces have and did. If the military was using strictly a head count to decide who to back, it looked to be about a dead heat.

General Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi countered El-Haddad with a TV address. In it he said, "The armed forces sincerely accepted the choice of the people, but then political decision making began stumbling. The armed forces remained committed to what it considered the legitimacy of the ballot box, even though that legitimacy began to do as it pleased and in a way that contradicted the basis and origin of this legitimacy."

In other words, the legitimate government was about to become illegitimate, so to save democracy we had to get rid of democracy for a while. At least until everyone comes to their senses. One wonders if el-Sisi was a lawyer in a previous life, because he certainly sounds like one.

What it came down to is roughly half of all Egyptians and the military don't want their nation to become a theocracy and that is what they saw Morsi aiming for. The real misgivings started when he told the judicial branch they'd have no say in the new constitution, or challenges to it.

As for Morsi himself, he blamed the whole mess on supporters of Hosni Mubarak. He might also have had a point. The masses were edgy because of his politics, but when food prices went up, fuel shortages started to occur, and the country became plagued by multiple power outages on a daily basis they'd had enough. The lines for fuel and the power outages have magically disappeared in the short time he's been out of office. Conspiracy theorists are beginning to howl as I type.

At this time Mohammed Morsi's location is unknown. It is unlikely he will see the light of day any time soon because the military and interim government are clamping down. NBC reports that the assets of the Brotherhood's leader, Mohammed Badie and 13 other senior officials of the group have been frozen while the national prosecutor conducts an investigation into their involvement in pre coup violence.

Yes, it would seem the threshold for turning back has passed. Once the military picked a side the deal was done. To bring Morsi back now would put vast numbers of the officer corps at risk of being charged with treason. No one is going to voluntarily do that to themselves.

Meanwhile the United States is hem hawing about cutting off aid to the Egyptian army. After all we have a law that says we aren't supposed to give aid to a military that has overthrown a freely elected government. Although in the past we've never let something as inconvenient as laws stop us when it comes to international affairs. Just ask the ghost of Salvador Allende.

Perhaps in anticipation of some American soul searching Kuwait has promised Egypt $4 billion in aid. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are kicking in another $8 billion. That is roughly the same total as the U.S. aid package.

So it appears the most populous Arab nation in the world has two choices and one of them isn't very pretty. Civil wars never are.

The only sure bet is that President Mohammed Morsi has served his last day in office.

You can take that one to the bank.

Thankfully, here in the states it is the weekend and the only people who want to start a civil war are currently drinking heavily while they drag fish out of lakes somewhere.

So as they say in Tahrir Square, ma'a salama.

And by the way, watch out for flying chairs.


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