The Egyptian state tends to define our problems and work on tackling them within the shortest possible timeframe. Yet, given the number and magnitude of our challenges, it is almost impossible to address all problems simultaneously and with equal efficiency. Working to reduce their impact over time, allowing them to diminish, is sometimes a much better strategy than confronting all challenges head-on and losing significant battles.
For the last few years, the Egyptian state has been applying a very intense, confrontational strategy in its battles with all of its opponents, with the intention of winning them all. This approach has led to a diffusion of our competence, prolonging battles that we had thought would be over quickly and, in some cases, exhausting our efforts in the battlefield. The result is that many Egyptians have lost hope of resolving some of our challenges and no longer have confidence in the Egyptian government that had initially promised them rapid solutions.
Egypt’s present largest crisis, terrorism, often begins with the expanding number of extremists willing to commit such crimes; if we worked on defusing those extremists in the first place, we would see less terrorism (having said that, the only viable option for dealing with those who actually commit crimes is military and security confrontation). Many other Arab governments have achieved better results in the battle against terrorism by applying a constructive, comprehending strategy.
The Egyptian state’s recent handling of Air Marshal Ahmed Shafik, former prime minister and potential candidate in Egypt’s 2018 presidential election, is one of the very few examples where it has managed (so far) to contain the crisis and completely defuse a potentially serious problem. Nevertheless, the government is not too happy with applying the same method in dealing with other politicians, believing that giving them a free reign will drag down the state. We simply need to apply the tactics that have proven to be successful to our remaining unsolved problems.
By stretching ourselves to tackle many problems at once, we have allowed our enemies to penetrate Egyptian society, either with their views or with terrorist activity.
Obviously, any government would prefer to get rid of its challenges once and for all. But, since this is not always feasible, it could be more advisable to contain some of these challenges — especially in the case of nations such as Egypt, which face numerous and intense problems that keep growing in both size and magnitude. By stretching ourselves to tackle many problems at once, we have enabled our enemies to capitalize on the state’s competence deficit and allowed them to penetrate Egyptian society, either with their views or with terrorist activity. By initially working on better defining and prioritizing our challenges, we could obtain better results.
What really matters in politics is mobilizing citizens around the state’s mission. Giving room to the state’s opponents to express their opinions while working on changing their outlook is certainly a much better approach than working on expanding the state’s opponents and enemies — and eventually living with incremental challenges. Politics is about compromise. There is no harm in expressing a degree of flexibility in our efforts to achieve our goals. The Egyptian state needs to advance its political strategy by being more comprehending and less confrontational.
• Mohammed Nosseir, a liberal politician from Egypt, is a strong advocate of political participation and economic freedom. Twitter: @MohammedNosseir