Sunday, December 23, 2012

Islamists Steer Egypt Toward Chaos, Collapse

Islamists Steer Egypt Toward Chaos, Collapse

Egyptian wait to vote in the constitutional referendum. (Photo: Reuters)Editor's Note: Official results have not been published, but Islamists are claiming victory in the second round of voting on the Sharia-based constitution which took place over the weekend.
The current crisis in Egypt is not only threatening the stability of the land of  the Pharoahs, but will likely affect the future stability of the entire Middle
East. Problems escalated after President Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood brazenly issued a declaration that set him above the law and effectively gave him control over all branches of the Egyptian government.
There are three primary factors underlying the current crisis in Egypt:
The first is the fact that the two main factions that make up Egyptian society (that is to say, the Islamists and the secularists) are poles apart. The former envision an Egypt in the mold of Iran or even the Taliban, while the latter hope for something more like Switzerland. Trying to create a constitution that that will satisfy both is  akin to finding a middle ground between Thomas Jefferson and the Mullah Omar of  Taliban.
The second factor is that more than 60% of the society voted for secular candidates in the first presidential race. Unfortunately, the secularists could agree on only one thing for sure: Anything would be better than a continuation of the former regime, as personified by Shafik.
The vacuum created by this lack of unity allowed the Islamist Morsi to rise to power. The majority secularist faction absolutely disapproves of the new Islamist constitution and has become more vocal since the observable decline
of the popularity of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Accordingly, any outcome that does not reflect their actual numbers can only occur via fraud. And they will not hesitate to use violence against the Islamists if the latter insists on forcing their strict Islamic agenda upon them.
The third contributing factor to the current crisis is the independent power  of the military. None of these groups -- the Islamists, the secularists or the military -- is capable of controlling the country alone. Only a partnership of at least two of the factions could effectively govern Egypt.
The inability of the secularists and the liberals to give any concession to the role of the military in the new Egypt has made the latter -- which was pivotal in removing Mubarak in Jan 25 Revolution -- unwilling to strongly support them against the Islamists.
This became painfully obvious recently when the military refused to side with the anti-Morsi demonstrators -- whose masses, incidentally, most likely amounted to not much less the numbers of anti-Mubarak protesters during
the Jan 25 Revolution.
The secularists somehow failed to recognize that it was the military -- not their presence in Tahrir Square -- that ultimately removed Mubarak from
power. If the recently united anti-Islamist groups do not understand and embrace this simple fact, and refuse to give the Military some privileges, the outcome for the whole country will be disastrous. Egypt will likely fall into a very destructive cascade that will end in the creation of a Sharia-ruled (and failed) state.
And the obvious fraud of the recent referendum by the Muslim Brotherhood-led government has only added more salt to the wound.
Morsi's Islamist government clearly manipulated the referendum at every level. Public anger against the MB government made it virtually impossible to get a majority "yes" without fraud.
This fraud included choosing mainly Islamist judges (and many unauthorized
people to supervise the elections) following the refusal of most Egyptian judges  to participate. The Islamists also employed an array of dirty tactics. For example, the Islamists, who usually do the Fajr (dawn) prayer in the Mosque, went immediately after the prayer to stand in queues in front of the election centers.
After casting their votes, they then returned to stand in the same queues, slowing and muddling the election process and making it more painful for the secularists who generally vote later in the day. Because of the strict election time-line, these delay tactics resulted in the failure of many, if not most, anti-Islamists to cast their votes at several of the election centers.
The Islamist judges who supervised the elections contributed to the mess by taking too much time to validate the voters. In many places, especially where most people are known to vote against the MB, voters stood in line for more than seven hours without moving forward an inch.
These dirty tricks allowed only early morning participants -- mostly Islamists -- to vote and effectively prevented much of the opposition from casting a vote. Had the referendum been conducted in a fair manner, the results of the first stage would have been completely different.
The international community must ask itself how it would describe a president like Morsi who took all power into his own hand and placed himself above the law; who  allowed thugs to surround the Supreme Constitutional Court of his country and prevent its judges from doing their job without raising a finger to protect them (of course, those same judges were poised to rule against his power grab), ; who turned a blind eye to his supporters' vicious attacks (and murders) of those who were peacefully demonstrating against his tyrannical declaration.
U.S. support for the Morsi government -- as evidenced by the recent presentation of fighter aircraft to the MB-ruled Egyptian military and based on the hope that the MB will respect the peace treaty with Israel-is both shallow and short-sighted.
Morsi's real intentions regarding Israel were recently exposed in a video
which shows him praying for the destruction of the State of Israel and the Jews.
And anyway, betting on the MB now is betting on a faltering horse. The MB's inability and unwillingness to encourage tourism due to their ideological beliefs will eventually cause the economic collapse of the country.
Hunger revolts in the near future are not out of the question. Furthermore, the very high and rising percentage of people opposing the MB will
continue to undermine their ability to rule the country, especially if the majority turns to violence against the Islamists.
The MB's inability to rule the country was already apparent when they decided to close shops at 10 pm. The aim of this decision was to force people to go to sleep early so they could wake up for dawn prayer, as a preparatory step for the Islamic State and Caliphate as recommended by Hasan Al-Bana (the founder of the MB). People simply ignored them, forcing the MB-led government to backtrack.
Another possibility that might occur  would be a division within the army, or even a coup, to side with secularists against the Islamists when the situation in the country turns ugly.
When the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) wielded political power following the removal of Mubarak, they issued a constitutional decision to criminalize discrimination based on religion, sex or race. In the new Morsi constitution, which was written  by the so-called "civilians," this rule was removed in order to allow the Islamists to practice their discriminatory Sharia agenda in the future.
The current situation in Egypt can be described as a serious crisis, sparked by Morsi's refusal to cancel his dictatorial declaration. This situation, left unchecked, could easily push the country down the path of failed states controlled by Islamic radicals.
There are only few things that could assist in preventing such a disastrous fate. They include:
1. The international community must inform the Egyptian leadership that the
acceptance of Morsi as president of Egypt was based on the approval of the Supreme Constitutional Court and that his recognition as president by the free world is now in jeopardy as long as this court is unable to function normally and have its say in the current situation.
In other words, the Supreme Constitutional Court must resume its function immediately, and be fully protected.
2. Morsi needs to be informed that the fraudulent results of the referendum on the new constitution will not be accepted as the will of the Egyptian people unless it is approved by the opposition leadership (Shafik,Sabahi, Amr-Moussa, and Abu El-Foutoh) who represented 75% of the combined votes in the first presidential race and who oppose the current constitution.
3. Human rights activists must take Morsi to the International Criminal Court to answer for his passive attitude toward -- and possible collaboration in -- the recent killings of peaceful demonstrators in front of his palace.
4. Morsi must be warned that his tyrannical attitude will deprive Egypt of badly needed financial aid from the international community and the U.S. The MB's fear of economic failure, which would likely end their dream of proving to the Muslim world that "Islam is the Solution," might force them to accept concessions in order to avoid such a defeat of their ideology.
5. Morsi's largely secular opposition must realize that without giving some concessions to the military they will likely drive the country to become a theocratic state ruled by Sharia and controlled by Islamic military power. The latter will be much worse than any secular military. Playing the game of politics correctly and giving some concessions to the military can save the country from a disastrous future.
6. The U.S. should welcome opening a dialogue with Morsi's opposition. This can create pressure on Morsi and push him toward changing his tyrannical decisions which brought nothing to the country but more instability.
7. International organizations such as the European Union should offer to supervise or monitor another referendum, untainted by fraud, on the new constitution. This would be very useful in helping to settle this explosive situation.
These measures are vital to resuscitate the country and to prevent it from going down a very destructive path.
Dr.Tawfik Hamid is an Islamic thinker and reformer, and one-time Islamic extremist from Egypt. He was a member of a terrorist Islamic organization JI with Dr. Ayman Al-Zawaherri who became later on the second in command of Al-Qaeda. Hamid recognized the threat of radical Islam and the need for a reformation based upon modern peaceful interpretations of classical Islamic core texts. Dr. Hamid is currently a Senior Fellow and Chair of the study of Islamic Radicalism at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies.

No comments:

Post a Comment