Thursday, June 21, 2012

Only the military are guaranteed victory in this Egyptian election

Returning to Cairo, Robert Fisk finds the city gripped by the demise of its former president – but fearing the outcome of the vote to decide his successor

By Robert Fisk

"Hosni Mubarak's ghost – whether or not he is still alive at midday – will preside over today's Egyptian presidential election results. For Ahmed Shafik and Mohamed Morsi represent the two faces of the narrative which Mubarak always used to maintain his power: stability or the Islamist nightmare. Shafik, Mubarak's last Prime Minister, is the "stability" candidate who has already claimed victory. Morsi is the Muslim Brotherhood man who has already claimed victory. Add to this the childish and arrogant claim by the army and its greedy field marshal, Mohamed Tantawi, to hold on to all its privileges, no matter how Egyptians have voted, and today promises to be one of those bookmarkers that historians love.....

More likely – and here comes the corrosive politics of the old Egypt – there will be tantalising opportunities held out. If Morsi is declared President, the army can trumpet their loyalty to the winner of a democratic election while ensuring that he remains muzzled. And the Brotherhood, let us remember, were negotiating with Mubarak's government even while the protesters in Tahrir Square were still being shot down by the state security police. The idea that the largest Islamist movement in Egypt has spent its darkest years in clandestinity is not true; Mubarak, for his own reasons, encouraged them to participate in elections as independents; and the Brotherhood duly obliged.

In other words, the Brotherhood are not necessarily the other side of the emperor's coin. They can be stroked and bargained with, and lavished with false praise, and – as long as they do not try to dissolve the army and the security apparatus which has tortured them (literally) for so long – may well work within the system of the "deep state" which is emerging in Egypt.

This will not satisfy the real revolutionaries, the young and the brave and the intellectuals (not necessarily all the same) who feel so betrayed by the events of the past year-and-a-half. The ElBaradeis will still be there to speak up, along with the political failures of the first presidential poll. And the West will be there to bellow if their human rights are violated by either "winner" in the election results today. Ah, that Mubarak might live to see all this ..."

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