A peaceful uprising coupled with a military coup has ousted the Muhammad Morsi, the president of Egypt. I was driving up the Bay and listening to the news live on Al Jazeera English and I was shocked. I do not like Morsi nor do I believe he’s changed much since the victory of the revolution (the blockade of Gaza persists), but the overthrow of a democratically-elected president is a terrible precedent.
There are many things to consider regarding his ouster. First, the precedent means that the next democratically-elected president in Egypt could be ousted too. It strengthens the role of the Egyptian military in Egyptian politics. And since the Egyptian military is bankrolled by the US and is very close to the US, it further strengthens the role of the US in Egyptian politics. This is unwise not only because it constitutes imperialism but foreigners should never be trying to determine the outcome of another country’s political battles. The thinking is that if the US barely knows what’s best for itself, how can it know what’s best for a country on the other side of the globe?
Additionally, the Muslim Brotherhood is a seasoned organization enduring decades of repression. They will not take this lying down. Revolutionary protests movements are typically for those who do not have the option of the ballot. And if revolutionary movements are not viable because of the regime’s authoritarian nature, then armed struggle becomes likely. The message sent to the Brotherhood is that the ballot is not a viable means of participating in power. If the street becomes closed off to them as a means of political expression, then armed struggle becomes a likely alternative.
This is precisely what happened in the early 90s in Algeria. The Islamists were on the verge of an electoral victory but the military stepped in to cancel the elections. The Islamists fractured into armed gangs waging a brutal armed campaign that along with the atrocities of the state killed over 150,000 people in a decade of fighting.
The Muslim Brother is a peaceful organization but it certainly has militant strands within it and I’m sure some factions are now calling for and organizing plans for attacks. This is all very dangerous and worrisome.
Allow me to reiterate, I do not like Morsi and generally enjoy arrogant and power hungry leaders falling from grace but objectively speaking, it does indeed set a terrible precedent, especially in the context of a region that is yearning for and learning democracy. Furthermore, being that Egypt is the largest and most influential Arab country, the impact of this overthrow can have a very negative effect on the whole region.
He should have been allowed to finish his presidency and if people were unhappy they should have voted him out. I also loathe the fact that the Saudi and UAE dictatorships congratulated the ouster.
The only good thing I see from all this at this point, and this may all be a bit premature, is that it puts all leaders, even democratically elected ones, on alert. If you do a poor job in office, you could possibly meet the same fate.