The collapse of Egypt ... a dreadful idea
It was not possible for any of us to have gone so far as to this conclusion if it weren’t for the most senior military official in Egypt, Defense Minister Abdel Fattah Al-Sissi, who sounded alarm bells and warned that the continuation of the conflict between political factions could lead to “the collapse of the state.”
Neither the Egyptians, nor the Arabs, nor indeed the world at large could bear such a dreadful idea. Regardless of how different their positions are, the Egyptians should never allow chaos to take hold and for the state of Egypt—which the people laud as being one of the oldest in the world, with roots dating back 7,000 years—to collapse. The defense minister’s statement has several meanings. In addition to alerting Egypt’s blinded politicians regarding the reality of the situation, this also represents a warning that the army will not stand idly by while the country burns, and will therefore intervene, not just to impose a curfew—as requested by President Muhammad Mursi—but possibly go further than this and declare martial laws, establishing military rule that could last for years replicating the Algerian experience.
The prime responsibility for preventing the collapse of the state, and subsequent military rule, rests on the shoulders of President Mursi. If he is not able to get conflicting factions together and talk them into working under his leadership through reaching a common ground as far as major controversial issues are concerned, we might witness the collapse of the second Egyptian republic.
President Mursi should be personally held accountable for the collapse of state, this is because he is the only one capable of redressing the mistakes his government and party have made over the past few months. It is clear that Mursi is not the sole president, for he is sharing this post with Muslim Brotherhood leadership figures, particularly de facto Supreme Guide Khairat Al-Shater. This can be clearly seen in the contradictions between the president’s speeches and rhetoric and his actual decisions. With the exception of Mursi’s recent speech imposing a curfew on the Egyptian cities hit by unrest, the president’s rhetoric is usually reconciliatory.
As for the presidency’s actual decisions on the ground, these have all been hostile. The battle over the constitution exposed this contradiction, ending with the imposition of a draft constitution that broke all the promises and pledges that had previously been made by the president. This draft constitution was then put to a public referendum against the people’s will, while also undermining the independence of the Constitutional Court and the judiciary in general. These are all factors that eventually led to the current crisis which might trigger the collapse of civilian rule.
Mursi is now facing two choices: Reconciliation or confrontation. Through reconciliation, he can build a state for everyone and return the rights stripped from the Egyptians in this constitution that was predominately drafted by his supporters in violation of the principles of democracy. He should also approve an election law in which issues such as candidacy, vote count, and legal disputes are not under his authority, but rather fully supervised and administered by genuinely independent judicial institutions.
The opposition rose against the Muslim Brotherhood’s attempts to control the Constitutional Court and the prosecutor general because if these two institutions are under the president’s authority, Egypt will be nothing more than a replica of Iran. The ruling party would have the final say as to who runs and who wins, which is exactly why Egypt remained under the tyranny of one party for a period of 30 years.
If Mursi rejects reconciliation, we might wake up one day within the coming few months to see military rule established. If this happens, Egypt and the entire Arab world would lose the most important change that took place in the past 100 years.