This week, I had the chance to discuss with Professor Ahmed Hasan, a nuclear scientist from the United States of America, the most recent events in Egypt. Although Prof. Hasan is an American citizen, he is an Egyptian who migrated to the United States 20 years ago. Prof. Hasan has built a distinguished career in the back-end of the nuclear fuel cycle and led various national and international projects in the US.
He currently works as a research professor at the University of New Mexico and works closely with many of the distinguished US Department of Energy's Nuclear National Laboratories. Prof. Hasan maintained professional relations with his home country and many other Arab countries throughout his career in the US. He supervised and hosted tens of students and fellows from the Arab countries through the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and several bilateral international agreements.
Like all Egyptian expatriates, Dr. Hasan has a strong interest in the recent events in Egypt and we spent considerable time discussing the recent transformation in Egypt. I concluded that the political arena in Egypt is very complicated and could not be assessed in a simple analysis, such as the new decree that will make the president a new dictator or it will be easy to remove him as simple as was done for the former president, Mubarak. Here is the scenario that scares me and the majority of our beloved Egyptians:
1. Egyptians are divided into two parties, those who support the president (recent constitutional decree and call for referendum on the new constitution) and those who are against the president (against both the new decree and the proposed constitution).
2. Each side assembles its own supporters until the country is divided almost into two battling halves.
3. The conflict is growing deeper every day by broadly painting one side as the Islamic coalition and the other one as the secular coalition.
4. The conflict could go out of hand anytime and become more violent and involve more division based on religion, which would take a much longer time to heal.
5. The coalition between the secular opposition and the remnants of the old regime increases the risk of returning to a military government or a long period of chaos in Egypt.
6. The trust between all the political parties in Egypt is eroding exponentially due to the following:
a. The strong revolt of the opposition against the recent constitutional decree does not match their previous response in similar situations before the presidential election
b. The risk of President Mursi becoming a new dictator in 2-3 weeks is far less than the risk of leaving the country without elected institutions and finishing any form of new constitution. Yet, the strong revolt from the secular coalition is not consistent with the recent events in Egypt.
c. If the situation is reversed and the secular opposition takes control and the Muslim Brotherhood and its coalition becomes the opposition, there is no guarantee the current chaotic political environment will change.
7. The remnants of the of the regime are fighting their last battle and taking advantage of the situation and contributing to the division to extend the chaotic period until they can lay the ground for the return of the military control, escape outside the country, embolden the corrupted elements of the old regimes, or at least ensure a government that is entangled in severe economic problems and embattled political parties.
8. Therefore, the potential for a violent conflict that could lead to civil war is increasing by the day. There is no conceived way of removing Mursi from his presidency without inflicting civil war in the country. There is a big difference between a whole country that was unified against Mubarak, a dictator who rules for 30 years and an elected president who rules for 5 months. Therefore, despite the dictatorship nature of the recent constitutional decree, it will be a big gamble for the country to proceed with the division between the Egyptians and embolden the remnants of the old regimes.
9. Regardless of who wrote the new constitution in Egypt, the question remains, are the deficiencies in the proposed constitution so much and could hurt the country in the near future, or these deficiencies could be corrected in future constitutional amendments?
10. Based on the answer to this question, the Egyptians should make their choice in the referendum, after reading the constitution.