Three interesting developments took place today in Egypt: The claim of victory by both Morsi and Shafiq’s campaigns in the runoff of the presidential election, and the strong turnout in Tahrir tonight and finally the unconfirmed reports about Mubarak’s death. I think it is fair to describe today as the day of conflicting reports.
The Morsi campaign was clever to rush to announce the results; by doing so, they took an impression and cemented it as reality, one difficult to challenge, particularly in the current atmosphere of mistrust in both the judiciary and the junta. The counter-claim by the Shafiq campaign has failed to gain credibility, but it succeeded in creating fear of a possible Egyptian version of the Bush/Gore scenario. Both camps’ reckless unprofessionalism could spark violence following Thursday’s formal announcement of the results.
Second, despite claims of protest lethargy, thousands have responded to the Brotherhood call for protests and turned up in Tahrir as a show of strength and defiance against the military. Tahrir, once a symbol of spontaneous revolution, has became a symbol of one group’s ability to garner support by the push of a button. Energy and lethargy became synonymous with the Brotherhood’s will to confront and not to confront SCAF, respectively. How far is the group willing to go to defy SCAF − will it try to enter the parliament? Will the riot police interfere? As always, Egypt has more questions than answers.
Third, the confusion about Mubarak’s condition reflect lack of understanding of brainstem death in Egypt, a condition, which is declared as death in Western countries but still not legally acknowledged in Islamic countries like Egypt. Some also mixed with another medical condition called: permanent vegetative state,which is the condition of Israel ex- Prime Minister Sharon.
In this Saga, one minor detail struck me as odd and even ironic:
During the morning press conference of the Morsi campaign, the general coordinator Ahmed Abdel Ati said the following:
“With respect to the People’s Assembly, in a previous incident a president [Mubarak] resorted to a popular referendum, as no authority has the right to dissolve or intervene in the duties of another.”
Clearly the Brotherhood saw Mubarak’s devious attempt to bypass previous Court verdict as a good example to follow. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that Mubarak’s actions would be taking as exemplary by the same group that claims to represent the revolution against him. Plus, they are partly to blame for the disbandment of the parliament by insisting on amending the election law despite knowing that it is not legally sound. If this is not unusual, then what is?
Egypt, still crippled by the corrupt fight for power it currently faces, has no clear roles for the game; as Marc lynch smartly describe it: one great game of Calvinball, except, we don’t have just one ball; we have two non-great “balls”− one SCAFball and another MBball − and both sometimes like to play separately, creating their own virtual realities before they eventually collide.
As for Mubarak, the obsession with a humiliated, politically irrelevant man indicates that Egypt still lives in the past and refuses to move forward to the future.
Meanwhile, Egypt’s layers of governance are slowly eroding. Even the Judiciary is losing is credibility. Millions of Egyptians are struggling to earn a living, queuing for gas and diesel, and experiencing deteriorating security in many areas, while tension is rising at the Israeli border. Unless both parties, SCAF and the Brotherhood, cease their lust for power, the country may descend into new dark era that makes 1954 seem like a walk in the park.