To move forward, Egypt needs the military, says Adam Mowafi, and the road to democracy might be a long one, but it's well worth the journey.
Through the course of my political ranting’s over the last two years, I have often had different views to many. On January 25th 2011, I immediately stated that the fall of Mubarak meant nothing unless it also led to the fall of Muslim Brotherhood as they were two sides of the same coin. This point of view was ignored and the revolutionaries sided with the MB in the first of their disastrous decisions.
When Tantawi was removed by Morsi, I wrote a article entitled The Genius of SCAF, outlining how Morsi had nothing to do with it and this was the army re-organising itself to continue its existence and regain popularity without losing anything. Again this fell on deaf ears and while revolutionaries hailed the decision as a democratic move by Morsi, they should have instead been up in arms about the constitution which Morsi was hijacking. The fact is they were too misty eyed regarding the non-removal of SCAF from politics to see the real danger.
My most recurrent theme, however, is the fact I am a firm believer that the Muslim Brotherhood in its current form can never be and will never be democratic. If the intention is a free Egypt, securing civil rights, the US and EU’s calls forcing Egypt to include the Muslim Brotherhood at this stage is adding yet another enemy. We already have enough to deal with in getting the army to accept many things without adding yet another problem.
My feelings towards June 30th are simple; I praise it because, the way the country was going, had it not happened, the next stage would have been civilians bringing down the state in its entirety, obliterating the MB and possibly having Morsi strung up in a city square. Was it the best case scenario? No, absolutely not. Was it necessary? I believe so, yes. Despite all the bloodshed since Morsi’s downfall it is nothing compared to what the army has prevented. Let us not forget all of this was a result of Morsi’s policies to begin with; his threats of violence and hijacking the constitution.
Moving forward, however, I will state something which will prove unpopular but will be the best for Egypt. The constitution should be written entirely devoid of groups such as the MB and Al Noor Party and it should be a simple document outlining the most basic rights are guaranteed to all. There is a key difference to having seculars exclude Islamists rather than Islamists exclude seculars, which is that seculars will guarantee rights to all minorities including that of the Islamists where as Islamists, by their nature, will impose their views and take away rights of others. If basic rights are secured in a strong document, Islamists will be forced to evolve into a more modern political scene. While there are many nuanced counter-arguments to what I have said, the crux of it remains true.
There are two main issues which need to be addressed: what to do with the MB and what to do with the army. Regarding the MB, it is simple; the leadership must be arrested and tried through a civil court as they are essentially sacrificing their youth in order to avoid justice. While some of the cases against them are superfluous, such as insulting the judiciary, they are charged with many serious crimes such as the killing of protestors, torture and incitement. It is not acceptable for Egypt to accept foreign pressure to let these people go for the sake of faux democracy.
Regarding the army, I also have a different view point on this. Taking into account the region we are in and the fact we are surrounded by warring countries, the possibility of civilian leaders repeating statements such as Morsi’s call to jihad in Syria means a strong, more independent military is actually what’s best for Egypt right now. This is of course a double edged sword but people must not forget the military has changed a lot in the last two years. Personally, I’d like to see a long reform process with the eventual goal of having a civilian leader of the country oversee the armed forces within in the next 10 years. To get there however, we must be pragmatic and that means understanding the military will be part of politics for the short to medium term and that the population desires this and with that we must negotiate accordingly. An initial victory would be removing military trials for civilians from the constitution in any circumstance. These are achievable goals and one step will lead to further steps.
With regards to speeding up the process of democracy, the US’s insistence to do this is an absolute tragedy. In a conversation with the former British Ambassador to Egypt, Dominic Asquith, he reiterated that the biggest reason the post-Jan 25th road map failed was internal pressure from the MB and external pressure on the army to go for elections before a constitution and to put a short timeframe for writing it. I could not agree more: Egypt must ignore all pressures from any country trying to rush the constitutional processes.
As it stands now, the MB have pitted themselves against all of Egypt. Their philosophy is ‘either we rule or we destroy the country’ and, as an Egyptian, I refuse this.