Russian and American experts and international observers ponder the future of post-revolutionary Egypt.
It remains to be seen what impact the recent revolution will have on Egypt. Photo: Reuters
The recent uprising in Egypt and the toppling of its President Mohamed Morsi have put the country at a crossroads. Experts have been watching the upheaval and attempting to predict the future political and economic development of the country.
According to the International Crisis Group, a respected international think tank, the forced removal of Egypt’s first democratically elected civilian president risks sending a message to Islamists that they have no place in the political order.
It may sow fears among them that they will suffer yet another bloody crackdown and can thus potentially prompt violent resistance on behalf of Morsi’s followers, it said.
"Signs strongly point in the worrying direction of heavy-handed military intervention, which, at a minimum, is reversing gains made in terms of a free press and the rights of political participation. The new government has reportedly taken control of state media outlets, censoring footage of pro-Morsi demonstrations aired by private satellite channels," the International Crisis Group said. "The status quo is unsustainable, and a sharp turn toward military control, even if exercised indirectly, would be ominous."
The think tank sees Morsi's resignation as "a blow to Egypt’s fragile democracy."
Meanwhile, Russia Direct asked other respected pundits and international observers whether Morsi's overthrow will be Egypt’s saving grace or its demise.
Hillel Frisch, professor, political studies and Middle East studies at Bar-Ilan University, senior research associate, the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies
The latest chapter in the Egyptian revolution is being celebrated by many as another victory for freedom and democracy. However, it is nothing more than a return to the military dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak. Egypt’s troubles may only be beginning.
The clearest indication that Egypt is moving back in time – restoring what the Egyptians call “the deep state” that prevailed under Gamal Abdel Nasser, Anwar Sadat and Mubarak – was the decision to replace the ousted democratically elected president with the President of the Constitutional Court Adli Mansour. He started his legal career in the legislative section in the President’s Office under Nasser, clearly demonstrating that he is not a man who will allow any moves to restore democracy.
The youth, the military, and the United States should have been wiser. They should have allowed Morsi his full term in office to fail. At that point, a weak president ruling over an even weaker state might have been pressured to hold democratic elections once again. Washington could have placed pressure on the Egyptian government to hold free elections in such a situation, reminding Morsi that withdrawal of American financial and technological aid could cause Egypt to collapse.
The Muslim Brotherhood in the biggest and most important Arab state would have then been elected out of office. This would have delivered a clear message throughout the Arab world that politics is about electing people who are armed with policies needed to address society’s pressing problems, not with guns and other modes of suppression. The focus on the highly contentious issues of religious and national identity would have given way to an emphasis on the pragmatics of enhancing human welfare and citizen rights.
Instead, the bitter adherents of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Salafist groups (and, at a later stage, the youth in Tamarod, once they realize that they were wronged again) might learn an entirely different lesson, an ominous one played out in other revolutions: the beheading of potential counter-revolutionaries in a manner they themselves refrained from after Mubarak’s ouster.
Grigory Kosach, professor, Russian State University for The Humanities (RSUH)
The Egyptian revolution was spurred by the army, and, like any revolution, it has only satisfied the interests of just a part of the Egyptian society. Despite today’s euphoria, Egypt is in for a long and difficult period of upheaval.
The reasons behind the violent revolution seem justified: the anti-president opposition is talking about the “islamization” of the state, stressing the inability of the Party of Freedom and Justice to meet the economic needs and expectations of Egyptian citizens.
The most important element of the Muslim Brotherhood movement’s policy was an establishment of total control over state institutions and the elimination of its political rivals.
Yet one shouldn’t assume that opposition groups are not responsible for the domestic instability and the absence of foreign investment. If they climb up the power ladder, they will end up facing the same challenges.
These problems will be difficult to resolve because the new authorities will have to coordinate their policy. They will have to not only “overthrow the Islamists,” but also come up with a program of new economic reforms, which will likely be unacceptable to their current supporters. Moreover, today only military support may bring the opposition to power. Thus the idea of democracy will have been discredited in the Egyptian mentality for a long time.
Michael Tadros, Ph.D. candidate, mechanical and aerospace department, the University of Texas at Arlington, an Egyptian living in the United States since 2006
Morsi did not resign. He was voted out of office by around 33 million Egyptians who took to the streets all over Egypt, and several thousand more Egyptians who protested across the capitals of the world, telling him that we do not want him or his group to rule the country anymore.
Since the Muslim Brotherhood came to power a little over a year ago, the country has seen unprecedented decline. There was a shortage of electricity: lights on the streets of Cairo and other cities were off for more than an hour every day, and there were several reports about surgeons having to continue surgeries by candlelight.
There was shortage of gas: long lines at gas stations became a daily sight for Egyptians. Many lost their jobs or could not afford basic necesseties simply because the Egyptian currency has been so devalued.
Then there are the thousands who used to work in tourism-related industries, who either went out of business or got laid off due to the severe decline in the number of tourists coming to Egypt after the Muslim Brotherhood came to power.
Last, but definitely not least, in a sudden assignment of new governors all over Egypt, the one assigned to the city of Luxor is a member of the Islamist group that planned and executed the Luxor Massacre against tourists in the same city back in November of 1997, when 62 people were killed. It was said that tourist groups cancelled their booked tours right after the announcement of his appointment.
All this and more is what caused the Egyptians to protest against him and his group. Instead of dealing with any of these issues, the government kept blaming all these problems on the previous regime, while that could not have been the case.
Thus Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood’s departure is one of the best things to happen to Egypt in a long time. They were dragging the country into an abyss and they had to be stopped.
Yes, it was a coup, but it was a people's coup. But it is not “democracy” when it is used to harbor and protect criminals and terrorists, either. I believe we are in the process of ridding Egypt of a regime that is as bad as the Taliban, a regime that could have turned Egypt into another Afghanistan.
Unfortunately, and for reasons beyond my comprehension, some Western media (CNN, BBC and others) are determined to portray all this as a military coup, even though it is not. Even though most of the party leaders, along with the religious leaders for both Muslims and Christians, all agreed with what the army announced.
The West still calls it a military coup, portraying it as if it were against the will of the people.
For example, Western media outlets were spreading stories about the army shooting 51 supporters of the ousted president while they were praying. But when I tuned into Arabic-speaking news stations, they all showed surveillance videos of the same protesters shooting at the army and throwing bombs and small rockets (fireworks, perhaps) in the army's direction before it started responding.
Then, later, people living in this neighborhood called the news stations and said that the army was under attack first. One caller actually said that she was one of the first interviewed by the CNN crew, yet her story was never told.
As an Egyptian living in the United States, I am deeply saddened and disappointed by this bias in American media.
More:Russian experts predict prolonged military rule in post-Morsi Egypt