Why The Egyptian Army's Crackdown On Islamists Spells Death For Democracy
The liberal arm of the anti-Muslim Brotherhood movement is unlikely to survive the army's bloody attack on supporters of former President Mohamed Morsi.
CAIRO — Islamists are not the sole victims of Wednesday’s security forces’ assault on two sit-ins organized by supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi that left more than 500 people dead, according to the latest official estimates. The choice of “total security” has also killed the political credibility of the liberals. Interim Egyptian Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei got it right by resigning midafternoon Wednesday.
Until the end, the 2005 Nobel Prize winner strived to convince the interim government — set up after the Islamist Morsi was ousted by the army — to solve the issue through peaceful means. But the “securitarian” clan, embodied by the Army Chief and Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, won.
A step backward
It is a terrible step backward, starting with the return of perhaps the worst symbol of the Hosni Mubarak era: the state of emergency, imposed during the former president's 30-year reign, that was re-established for one month on Wednesday. It gives the army the right to apprehend and imprison citizens without a trial. It reverses all the gains of the January 2011 revolution.
ElBaradei’s resignation will force most of the liberals in the government to leave, or else they will be condoning a blind and cynical crackdown. If they stay, they know that their voices will cease to count any longer. Islamists hate them for their support and even their role in the army’s return to power. The general public, incited by the nationalist and anti-Muslim Brotherhood media propaganda, see them at best as “cowards,” at worst as “traitors.”
After the unprecedented violence launched this week on the camps at Rabiya Al-Adawiya and Al-Nahda squares — churches, police offices and Copt citizens were attacked — the state of emergency is unlikely to be lifted anytime soon.
Egypt is about to enter a murderous cycle similar to the unrest during the 1990s. Authorities took six years, between 1992 and 1998, to crush the far smaller uprising of the insurgents of al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya, who regularly attacked policemen, Copts and tourists, first in Cairo and then in Upper Egypt, in an effort to overthrow the Egyptian government. Calm returned, but only after the imprisonment of some 90,000 people, massive human rights violations and a complete absence of democracy.