The Real Egyptian Spring
Starting on Friday June 28th tens of millions of Egyptian citizens (estimates of 37 million) jammed the main streets and the squares of major Egyptian provincial cities calling for the resignation of President Mohammad Morsi, for the end of his Muslim Brotherhood party rule, and for early presidential re-election. After giving Morsi a 48 hours grace period to heed to the popular demands, the military command deposed of Morsi, annulled the constitution and assigned an interim government to conduct new presidential election. Many considered this an Egyptian new revolution.
This revolution is different from that of January 25th 2011 that toppled the rule of previous President, Husni Mubarak. The 2011 revolution was planned, initiated, financed and mainly orchestrated by the CIA sponsored Freedom House Organization, whose 43 members, then, were held by Egyptian police for trial, but under the pressure of 17 Foreign Ministers of Western countries, were allowed to be smuggled to Israel and then back to the USA. Still, on June 4th 2013 the Egyptian court convicted all of them in absentia. We just need to remember that such American NGOs had toppled many Latin American governments in the past. In Egypt, President Mubarak was very old and sick, his people started moving against his very oppressive policies, and replacing him with his unpopular son, Gamal, would have been difficult.
Today’s revolution is very different in many facets. It is initiated, planned and orchestrated mainly by fed up young Egyptians. The public fear barrier was broken by the first revolution and many million Egyptians; young and old including many women, who were afraid to participate in the first revolution, joined the protesters. Learning from the first revolution and demonstrations the leading youths, now, have specific plans for the protesters, for the protection and control of the participants, and clear vision of their demands. This revolution is Egyptian to the core and is the real Egyptian spring.
The main driving force behind this revolt is the Tamarrod (Rebel) movement led by young activists, who gathered 25 million signatures demanding Morsi’s departure. Joined by National Salvation Front political party they called on the people to demonstrate in the streets on June 30th, a year after Morsi’s inauguration as president, demanding early presidential election. Answering their call Egyptians from all various social fabric took to the streets last week. This included rural farmers and city dwellers, white collars, labor unions, school and university students, small business owners, professionals, trade unions, government employees, lawyers and judges, house wives, members of civic organizations, politicians, ministers, police force, military personnel, and many others. Muslims as well as Christians walked together side by side.
Many government officials including members of Parliament, members of Constituent Assembly and ministers had submitted their resignations. A total of 13,000 judges filed law suits against Morsi for breaking the constitution. The police turned against him calling themselves “defendants of people not the regime”. The armed forces also stated that their primary duty is to protect the people and gave Morsi a 48 hours ultimatum to respond to the people’s demands before adopting what they called a road map. Morsi did not listen to his people.
Mohammad Morsi is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood long outlawed in 1948, 1954, 1965 and 1981. The Brotherhood was established by Hasan El-Banna in 1928 calling for revival of basic Islamic teachings and rejection of the corrupt Western influences and occupation of Egypt. The Brotherhood adopted armed struggle and assassinations against the British occupation. They also supported the officers’ revolt led by Gamal Abdel Nasser against the monarchy in 1952, thus gaining popularity among Egyptians especially the Muslims. Unfortunately the movement was hijacked by extremists who wanted to grab power and to establish their own distorted perspective of the Islamic Shari’a law. So they turned against Nasser’s government who aligned with “heathen” communist Soviet Union. They were outlawed in 1954 after their failed attempt to assassinate President Nasser. Yet in 1981 they were successful in assassinating President Anwar Sadat for visiting Israel and signing a peace treaty with Israeli government. President Mubarak cracked down heavily on the Brotherhood and jailed and tortured many of them. Mohammad Morsi, along with other Brotherhood’s members, was also jailed in Wadi el-Natroun prison until January 30th 2011, when mob broke into his prison and freed all prisoners. After the 2011 revolution the Brotherhood was somehow tolerated and allowed to form a political party called Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) headed by Morsi himself.
During the chaos resulted after the 2011 revolution and despite the annulment of the constitution, and deviant to any legitimate democratic system, presidential election took place in 2012. The two runners were Mohammad Morsi and Ahmed Shafik; Mubarak’s last Prime Minister and a former air force commander. After two unsatisfactory rounds of election and with a narrow margin of 2%, Morsi was appointed President with the help of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. Rumors claimed that the FJP was able to buy votes with CIA supplied money on the condition of maintaining peace treaty with Israel when in power. In his victory speech Morsi asserted that he will honor all Egypt’s international treaties, in reference to Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel.
With great respect to Professor Richard Falk; the UN Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights, I must disagree with his article, where he stated that Morsi was set for failure since the beginning. In reality Morsi was given once in a life chance to improve his Muslim Brotherhood violent image by re-introducing it back into the civil political system. As a structural engineer, and despite serving as a Member of Parliament for five years, Morsi seems to lack the political experience necessary for Presidency. He misinterpreted Egypt’s new political theater. His political vision was limited by his blind loyalty to the Brotherhood that seemed to put its aggressive fundamentalist agenda ahead of the country’s interests.
In November 2012 Morsi granted himself unlimited power to legislate without any judicial oversight. In December he created a new constitution and forced it on the people. He stalled negotiations with other political parties and delayed parliamentary election until he could secure, through appointment, key governmental political positions for members of his Brotherhood. He seemed to restructure the government as well as the country along religious sectarian lines.
Morsi’s focus on securing power to his Brotherhood kept him away from managing Egypt’s internal affairs and meeting the citizen’s basic needs, thus taking the economy down the hill. Qatar’s $5 Billion deposit into Egypt’s Treasury, including $1bn grant and $3bn into Egyptian Treasury bond at 3.5% interest rate, combined with Saudi Arabia’s and Turkey’s deposit of $1bn each and Libya’s $2bn could not revive Egypt’s economy. Continuous depreciation of the Egyptian pound, thinning of foreign currency reserves, and shrinking revenue from tourism plagued Egypt since Morsi assumed office. Cutting taxes in order to gain people’s support did not help the economy, rather increased Egypt’s national dept. Lately Morsi looked for loans from IMF; something the Muslim Brotherhood had considered a sacrilege in the past.
Economy crises hit people hard. There was a shortage of bread, cooking gas, and fuel due to cutting off of governmental subsidies. People had to stand in long lines to obtain these necessities and many of them would go home without obtaining any. Egypt has become a major importer of wheat. While Egypt is still selling Israel gas for cheaper prices than the world market, Egyptians lack sufficient supply of cooking gas and solar. While members of Muslim Brotherhood were employed favorably regardless of qualifications, Thousands of highly qualified university graduates could not find any job. Morsi did not have any development plan and did not produce any economic or reform improvement of what he had promised during his campaign.
Religious sectarian conflict increased during Morsi’s one year rule. Attacks against Coptic Christians increased including church and home burnings, and attacks against Christian licensed demonstrations demanding protection such as the Maspero massacre. Even unveiled Muslim women were routinely harassed in the streets by fundamentalist Muslims.
Morsi has also failed in his foreign policies. Egyptians consider Israel their only regional enemy and adopt the Palestinian cause as their own. They have demanded the cancellation of the unfair peace treaty with Israel, closing the Israeli embassy, halting of Egyptian gas to Israel, and opening the Rafah crossing with Gaza to ease the Israeli economic and military siege against their Palestinian blood relatives. Morsi did the exact opposite.
Palestine was the main cause for the Brotherhood’s founder Hasan El-Banna, but later on it became marginalized and turned into an empty slogan. Morsi increased pressure on Gaza by maintain the Israeli siege, restricting movement on Rafah crossing, and worst of all he continued flooding Gaza’s tunnels; the blood lines to 1.5 million Palestinians. Leaked letters of the US Department of State proved that Morsi was even worse than Mubarak. To keep receiving American military finance Morsi pledged to stop the movement of illicit goods (weapons) across Egyptian borders ostensibly to Gaza, increase Israeli security in Sinai, help prevent attacks from Gaza into Israel, secure American transit through Suez Canal, and open Egypt’s air space for the US military flights giving them easier and faster access to the broader Middle East and North African regions.
Although in his September 2010 speech Morsi had called the Israelis “blood suckers”, “warmongers”, and “descendants of apes and pigs”, in October 2012 he sent a letter to Israeli President Shimon Perez calling him “My dear great friend” and calling for “maintaining and strengthening the cordial relations which so happily exist between our two countries.” Such a flip flop positions did not escape the attention and scrutiny of Egyptian populace.
The Muslim Brotherhood used to call for armed struggle (Jihad) to liberate Jerusalem and the Aqsa Mosque; the third holiest site for Muslims. Last month, June, this jihad was directed somewhere else when Morsi and few extremists Salafist political clergy called for jihad against another Arab Muslim country; Syria. Instead of cutting diplomatic relationships with the Israeli enemy, closing the Israeli embassy in Cairo and calling for liberation of Palestine, Morsi announced cutting diplomatic relationship with Syria, closed the Syrian embassy, and called for jihad in Syria. Instead of calling on the international community to oppose Israeli terrorism and crimes against Palestinians and against the rest of the neighboring Arab countries, Morsi called on the UN to impose a no-fly zone over Syria.
Morsi’s true colors were clearly exposed; he is more a Zio-American stooge, like Mubarak, than an Egyptian Arab President. Throughout his one year rule the Egyptians demonstrated in the streets many times giving Morsi warnings and opportunities to reform. Yet he ignored all the signs. Finally young Egyptians took into the street calling for the resignation of his government and for new election. Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood lost and the people won.
The people gave Morsi legitimacy and authority to lead the country, but when he failed to serve the people, the people took back legitimacy and authority away from him. This is ultimate democracy where the will of the people rules.
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