Examining the Recent Political Crisis In Egypt:
By Donovan Reynolds Blogger and Independent Writer.
Political scenarios for the future are hard to predict. Moreover when religion and politics intermingle it creates a toxic concoction. Long known for its pyramids and ancient civilisation, Egypt is the largest Arab country and has played a central role in Middle Eastern politics in modern times. In the 1950s President Gamal Abdul Nasser pioneered Arab nationalism and the non-aligned movement, while his successor Anwar Sadat made peace with Israel and turned back to the West. Egypt has been a key ally of the West; it has played a major role in the Israeli-Arab conflict no wonder President Obama intervened cautiously during the overthrowing of President Mubarak.
But the protests that ousted President Hosni Mubarak in 2011 is putting Egypt at the crossroads once again. The process that led to an Islamist Muslim Brotherhood breakthrough at subsequently annulled parliamentary polls and a narrow win for the Brotherhood candidate in the presidential election of 2012 has turned sour.This has not made the situation better Mr Mohamed Morsi the Muslim Brotherhood candidate and president of Egypt, issued a decree giving him sweeping constitutional powers that has now backfired.
The move prompted his critics to accuse him of seeking to monopolise power creating widespread protest by the opposition parties. Egypt’s health ministry said late on Wednesday the 5/12/12that at least 211 people had been injured in clashes between Morsi’s secular-leaning opponents and Islamist supporters, as riot police attempted to break up the violence. In addition three members of Mr. Morsi’s advisory team resigned over the crisis. They are Seif Abdel Fattah, Ayman al-Sayyad and Amr al-Leithy. They all tendered their resignations, bringing to six the number of presidential staff who have quit in the wake of a decree that has triggered countrywide violence and has drawn a negative international spotlight on Egypt.
So the Muslim Brotherhood led Victory at the polls should have been the solution to Egypt’s long history of dictatorship has suddenly shaped up to be a dictatorship regime in its own right. The aborted revolution of January 25, 2011, which succeeded in ridding the country of the decades-long rule of Hosni Mubarak, has failed to address the authoritarianism and corruption embedded within the state’s institutions, from the military and the security agencies, to elements within the judiciary and state run bureaucratic institutions.
In March 2011 voters widely approved a referendum to delay the passage of a new constitution, instead preferring first to elect a new parliament and head of state, resulting in one of the most dysfunctional transitions in modern political history. The lack of will to see the revolution through to its conclusion has yielded a unusual fusion government made up of a combination of the counter-revolutionary remnants of the old regime as well as the self-proclaimed protectors of the revolution, embodied in the group that has enjoyed the greatest electoral success of any political actor, the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Muslim Brotherhood is the Arab world’s most influential and one of the largest Islamic movements, and is the largest political opposition organization in many Arab states. Founded in Egypt in 1936 as a Pan-Islamic, religious, political, and social movement by the Islamic scholar and schoolteacher Hassan al-Banna, by the end of World War II the MB had an estimated two million members. Its ideas had gained supporters throughout the Arab world and influenced other Islamist groups with its “model of political activism combined with Islamic charity work”. The Brotherhood’s credo was and is, “Allah is our objective; the Quran is our law, the Prophet is our leader; Jihad is our way; and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations.” Its most famous slogan, used worldwide, is “Islam is the solution.”
On the foreign policy side of the equation the west historically has fostered a good political strategic partnership with Egypt mainly as a go between in defusing tensions between Israel and Palestine. But the New Egypt under President Morsi has yet to prove itself to key allies like the United States and other Western countries that he is an ally worth backing, especially after he failed to tackle the attack on the American embassy in Cairo last month by angry protesters denouncing an anti-Islam film. Other issues of concern to America and its European allies include freedom of speech, women’s participation in politics and the future of Egypt’s Copts who feel increasingly threatened by the rising power of Islamists in the country.
The conflict in Egypt squares with political theorist Samuel Huntington clash of civilization hypothesis. He believed that while the cold war had ended, the world had reverted to a normal state of affairs characterized by cultural conflict. In his thesis, he argued that the primary axis of conflict in the future will be along cultural and religious lines. Egypt is a prime example of a country where people’s cultural and religious identities will be the primary source of complex political conflict. According to Huntingdon Irreligious people like the opposing liberals in Egypt who violate the base principles of religious organizations like the Muslim brotherhood are perceived to be furthering their own pointless aims, and as a result will face violent action.
President Morsi’s use of his democratic legitimacy to shield himself from all accountability, the president has raised the stakes of political competition in Egypt. Given the intensity of the response, however, the unintended consequence of this overreach may be to force a rethinking on the part of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political leadership. But as already stated when there is a mixture of politics and religion there is always a tension between religious cultural norms and the idea of political liberal reform agenda- religion always wins. Religious leadership is primarily rooted in adhering to a strict rule of law that cannot be negotiated away while western Liberalism has a modicum of flexibility whether real or pretentious.
So it is my opinion that the fault line between the Muslim brotherhood and the liberal opposition parties and Christians in Egypt will become even more polarised in the coming months. Although we hope that there will be a breakthrough of the current political stalemate. Those of us who had hope that the Arab spring would have brought a rooting out of dictators in the Arab States have to manage our utopian expectations less we become embroiled in bitter disappointment.
Political, social and economic challenges are frequently articulated through the language of dialogue or conflict .Egypt is at a very delicate crossroads as it seeks to forge a new political identity. The dye is cast by the President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood narrow electoral win. Can the manifold crises of contemporary life in Egypt be made more intelligible through the frame of unauthorised political decrees by the Muslim Brotherhood with Islam at the core of its political philosophy? There is a current belief by political commentators that the New Egypt is flanked by the forces of religious conservatism and self-obsessed autocratic institutions who are unwilling to chart a new democratic pathway. While liberal and Christian and political oppositions lay angry on the periphery feeling as sense of being duped by a false revolution. The question is can the manifold crises of contemporary political life in Egypt be made more intelligible through the frame of the Muslim Brotherhood rule by decree? Political scenarios for the future are difficult to predict- so your guess is as good as mine.
Donovan Reynolds is a Blogger and Independent Writer. He is a British based Social Worker and Human rights Activist. He has an interest in Politics, Culture, Human Rights and International Development issues. Readers of this blog may add their comments or critique at the space provided on this blog .Or alternatively they may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org/ or dannygerm@twitter