Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Egypt's revolution reloaded?


President Morsi's sacking of his defence minister propels the Egyptian revolution into a new, pivotal phase.

By Mark LeVine

"In hindsight, it was always going to come to this: A Muslim Brotherhood president throwing down the gauntlet against the military that has dominated Egypt for 60 years by firing the leader who ushered former President Hosni Mubarak from power. But it's still, quite literally, a breathtaking development, and seems to close the book on the SCAF-led transitional era.

Or does it?.....

Permanent coup d'etat

In a very real sense, Egyptians have been living in a "permanent coup d'etat" for decades, as long as the country has been under emergency rule. The continuing coup since Mubarak's removal, despite several rounds of parliamentary and presidential elections, could not but fail to produce a functioning constitutional system that would lead the country towards a new political dawn, precisely because the raison d'etre of the state - or rather, the raison d'etat - continues to lie in its own survival - that is, in the survival of the existing networks of power, wealth, control and violence to maintain them.....

A second possibility is that Morsi's actions could hew much closer to the traditional coup d'etat - that is, the state acting to protect and preserve itself. This would be the case if it turns out that Tantawi and Anan's dismissals were in fact coordinated with the senior leadership of SCAF, who realised they would be better protected by allowing the new president to assume ostensibly full power, in exchange for ensuring they do not face prosecution for all the crimes SCAF has committed since Mubarak's ouster (such as the Maspero massacre of two dozen Copts, and the arrest, torture and military trials of untold thousands of people) and for leaving the massively corrupt economic system in place.

Indeed, there has been much evidence in the last year and a half that the Brotherhood and the military, whose economic interests and social outlook have moved closer together in the last decade, are "in bed together". If so, Morsi is not so much taking charge of the state as he is acting to preserve the interests of an expanding ruling elite that increasingly includes the Brotherhood leadership, if not the majority of its membership....

Another possibility is that Morsi is being set up to fail by SCAF and the larger power elite it represents: that, by allowing him to retire Tantawi, assume full control of the legislative and executive functions of an interim government, and even take direct responsibility for launching what is being reported as an extremely violent military assault in the Sinai, Morsi is being given full responsibility for the consequences of actions that he does not have enough power to carry out successfully.

If the process of writing a constitution does not move forward, the economy does not improve, the violence against the Sinai Bedouin blows back by strengthening extremists, and Morsi winds up seeming to protect foreign economic and strategic interests (the US, IMF, Israel), he will turn out to have been the victim of a brilliant strategic move by SCAF and the existing "state", who likely imagine themselves to stand a better chance long-term contending for power against the revolutionaries of Tahrir and their liberal and labour allies than the far better-organised and disciplined Brotherhood....."

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