In Egypt, History Is Reflecting, Not Repeating, Itself
History appears to be repeating itself in Egypt as thousands flood the streets protesting the government of President Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. Talks continue between Morsi’s government, the military and the protesters, but little progress has been made as a deadline for a resolution nears.
Of course, history is not repetition, it is a reflection. As much as the protests evoke memories of 2011, Ashraf Khalil points out that there are some important differences.
Differences Between 2011 and 2013
In 2011, the protesters possessed some hope that revolution would lead to better days, while today that is less certain given Egypt’s faltering economy. In addition, Mohammed Morsi is not Hosni Mubarak. While Mubarak willingly ceded power, Morsi has so far rejected any calls for his resignation and stated in a late-night address that he is willing to give his life “to protect the legitimacy” of the country’s “democratic” process.
He writes in Foreign Affairs that as much as the demonstrators may wish it were so, the Brotherhood will not easily fade away.
“After all, it has been a mainstay in Egyptian politics for decades; even Mubarak, in his 30-year reign, could not get rid of it. The pro-Morsi protests and Egypt’s first round of presidential elections last summer indicated that the Muslim Brotherhood’s true national support is likely still around 25 percent of registered voters. Whoever leads the government next, therefore, will have to somehow make peace with the Brotherhood,” Khalil asserts.
Military Remains A Powerful And Popular Force
Fawaz Gerges, director of the Middle East Centre at the London School of Economics tells Canada’s Daily Star that the military remains a “respected and powerful institution” that has the support of the poor. Declining economic conditions have drawn poorer Egyptians into the streets, where they were not in 2011.
Rami Khouri also sees important distinctions between the two revolutions and believes the battle may be won or lost in the streets, rather than at the ballot box.
“The Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters will fight back and try to retain their grip on power. Their argument that Mursi is a legitimately elected president is a significant one, but so is the opposition’s view that in his first full year in office he has utterly failed every significant test of democratic legitimacy, and must step down and allow a new president to be elected. That contest will now be determined largely in the streets and among the leadership of the armed forces.”
The question remains: Where does Egypt go next? What can Egypt – and the world – expect if the military does intervene?
“The military and the opposition forces have already given up on Morsi and would like him to step down,” Amy Hawthorne, a senior fellow with the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East says in an interview with the Voice of America.
“Unfortunately, I don’t see any positive scenarios unfolding that quickly return Egypt to a political equilibrium and stability. Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups are digging in very deeply, refusing to be pushed out from power,” she says.