Egyptian’s Aak- Week 30. On Mandate and Massacres

July 26

 (Pro-Military July 26 demonstrations, via Egypt independent)

Main Headlines








A Few Thoughts

Thirty weeks have passed since I started this diary on current events in Egypt, and it is messy politics or “ the Aak.” However, I have to admit that this week was by far the worst. Surely, Egypt has witnessed many tragic events in the past—blood, violence, and turmoil—but, I personally have never witnessed such disintegration of social cohesion as I did this week, even within groups of close friends and family members.

To explain this week’s events without being dragged into the battle of conflicting narratives and disinformation, let me first introduce two psychological tools commonly used by Egyptians: balloon tests and religious occasions.

Last week, the Muslim Brotherhood organized massive marches to celebrate the 10th of Ramadan, the anniversary of the October War on the Islamic calendar. Their plan was to march again on the 17th of Ramadan (Friday), which commemorates the battle of Badr, the first battle in Islam. On that same day, General Sissi, former Director of Military Intelligence, before being promoted (by Morsi) to Army Chief, decided to counter their move by calling for a massive protests for the “great Egyptian people to give him a mandate to fight terror.”

Does Sissi honestly need a mandate? Certainly not, it is his job to defend the country, so why has he called for this protest?

Simply put, there are two reasons. First, the protest is a form of visual psychological warfare against the Muslim Brotherhood to expose their relatively small number of supporters.  News coverage of a packed Tahrir Square and other squares will definitely minimize the visual impact of the pro-Morsi sit-in in Rabaa. Second, the protest will serve as a balloon test of the mood of the general public; a large turnout will confirm his popularity and silence foreign critiques.

There is no doubt that Sissi perfectly understands the strengths and weaknesses of the Muslim Brotherhood, including their great ability to rally and protest and their inept performance in negotiations and inability to compromise. The mother of all resistance movements in the Middle East has failed to transform into a crafty, skilled political party. Ironically, the Muslim Brotherhood’s performance in conducting the Rabaa sit-in has proven that Morsi’s return will not solve the country’s crisis; defiance alone does not solve any crisis or prove effective leadership.

Now, there are talks about a “legal” end to the sit-in. How would this happen?  We can only assume that a court order to end the sit-in will be delivered soon and be based on complaints filed by local residents who have had enough after a month of disturbance in their lives. However, the implementation of the court order could be a disaster. Having already witnessed two major bloodsheds, a third could be massive and, frankly, disastrous; I cannot even contemplate it. Unfortunately, the Brotherhood has failed to comprehend that even a massive round of international condemnation and the repeated Turkish rage of PM Erdogan will not put a dent in the army’s determination. I doubt that Sissi will end the sit-in now despite threats and ultimatums. Like many army generals, he prefers the pliers to the knife. In other words, he seems to prefer the slow torture of his enemy rather than a sharp decisive death—cruel, but effective.  The atmosphere is already bleak in Rabaa, and the longer it endures, the bleaker it gets. In addition, the public has already become sensitive to the news of death, and are readily buying the war on terror narrative.

What is sad is that it didn’t have to be this way. I am a supporter of June 30, but I am certainly not an advocate for a return to military rule. If Morsi was smart enough to listen to the people, none of this would have happened. The perfect scenario, for me, would be that Morsi step down without an army ultimatum. Now, we are all snookered; every time I see a poster of Sissi, my heart sinks.

That is, why I am pleading for the Muslim Brotherhood to see sense and end the Rabaa sit-in? They must stop playing to the army’s hand. It is not all or nothing, this is a defeat, but not the end of political Islam; they can reflect, learn, and reform.

Here are a few points that I hope both sides consider:

  • Both sides must stop the disinformation war. Hyperbole, parading dead, and demonization are tools of hate that will bread further divisions.
  • Egypt’s civilian leadership should either take ownership or resign. If Sissi wants to role Egypt, then at least he should be open about it.
  • Enough with the protests. This tool has been used and abused several times and both sides have made their points clear.  The country must now get back to normal
  •  The Muslim brotherhood must understand that a tough formal stance and a soft back-room stance is risky policy. They also must openly admit that a return of Morsi will not solve the crisis in Egypt.
  • A negotiated deal must be based on: Amnesty for every one, including Morsi and Mubarak. We must start with a new blank sheet, especially with the current polarised judiciary. A guarantee for future political participation for all parties (including the Muslim Brotherhood), a staged release of all Islamists prisoners in return for an end to the Rabaa sit-in, and financial monitoring of the Brotherhood’s activities.

I doubt that the main players will take any notice of the above suggestions. This was the worst Ramadan ever in my lifetime, and I have nothing else to do but pray.

Good Read

About nervana111

Doctor, blogger and Commentator on Middle East issues. The only practising doctor who write in Middle Eastern politics in UK.
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