Though scenes of violence and a declared state of emergency has put Egypt on the edge, Adam Mowafi argues that this is the logical end game that will put us on the first step of the path towards democracy and peace.
As was predicted, the end game is happening now. The Muslim Brotherhood took their protests to the expected conclusion which, as we have seen, is a violent face-off between them and the army, backed by popular support.
And that’s exactly what a lot of international press is ignoring; that the clear-outs at El Nahda and Raba’a Adaweya Squares had sizeable support from local residents and the wider Egyptian population. Unlike MB claims, the clear-outs will not result in another revolution but instead solidify what many had already assumed; that the Brotherhood have no problem in resorting to threats and violence. Conclusively, even though not in large numbers, the MB have shown that they are armed, dispelling myths their sit-ins were peaceful. Needless to say, the death tolls resulting from the clear-outs cannot be condoned, whatever side of the political sphere you’re on, but I only wish that the stand-off hadn’t reached the point of a Western-style Texas showdown. I truly believe that if Morsi had compromised on the constitution, we would not have reached this stage.
This is not a fairy tale (revolutions never are) but as I’ve argued before, these events are not just about politics, they are about sociology and the Egyptian identity. With a popular mandate, Sisi clearly sees this is the best opportunity Egypt will have to deal with the MB to restore Egypt’s sense of self. Will the MB go away ? Of course not. It’s more likely that they will go underground for a period, while low level insurgency continues. The new constitution is likely to put restrictions on faith-based parties and, eventually, the violence the MB will commit while underground will prove ineffective. I imagine that there will be a break-off faction of MB youth which will reform the organisation into a more modern and moderate version of itself, similar to the AKP in Turkey.
Over the next few weeks, Sisi's standing will increase even further among Egyptians who will see him as the hero who rid Egypt of the MB. Going against this nationalism in the next few months will be a bad move for foreign countries, as it will not achieve the desired results. Before moving forward, and to ensure pressure is applied on the army and politicians to get back onto the political road, there must be acceptance of the reality that the majority of Egyptians will not deal with the MB as a political force. If the Brotherhood really want to be included, their best hope is to reform and rejoin at a later stage with a modified ideology.
While some predict doom and gloom for Egypt, I think that quite the opposite will occur. Unlike many, I see no conspiracy in Egypt; I just see a sequence of events that the state or and other players took advantage of. There are, however, key things that will shape Egypt's future. Egyptians as a whole are far more politicised, and there is no going back to pre-Jan 25th levels of non-participation.
The army has played a hand and won (this time). However, I am sure they have learned that the gratitude towards them can quickly turn into hate. Similarly, Islamists will have learned that forcing their ideology simply will not work. Why the optimism? Egyptians first put fear into the security apparatus, then followed this by putting fear into the army and, finally, the Islamists, and this I genuinely believe is all that is required to move one step forward, as these three elements previously made up a dictatorship. Right now, the state will see a short boost in popularity but this will not last long and accountability will be the name of the game. Either way, after two years, we are finally at Step One on the road to democracy and peace.