Egypt’s military represents the country’s only safe hands

Egypt’s military represents the country’s only safe hands

Egypt’s military represents the country’s only safe hands

On Saturday and Sunday, Egyptians lodged their ballots to choose their new president. Only 15-20 percent bothered to use their vote. Once again, the moderates have shot themselves in the foot. Preliminary counts put chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party as the front-runner flying in the face of most polls. Whereas, the Brotherhood’s core base is faithful and unhesitatingly braved temperatures of over 40 degrees centigrade in some parts of the country to queue outside voting stations, liberals either flocked to air-conditioned cafes to exchange heated opinions or deliberately boycotted the election, complaining the lack of a constitution setting out presidential powers rendered it invalid.
There was also a liberal element that refused to participate on the grounds that both candidates weren’t suitable to lead while a substantial proportion of the revolutionary youth stayed away saying the military had hijacked their uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak; others were convinced that Mubarak’s last appointed Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq was set for victory and didn’t put themselves out.
The idealistic youth have clearly learned nothing from the results of previous elections. Ideals are all well and good but when the future of the nation is at stake, they should be temporarily set-aside for real politic. Their deliberate refusal to be part of the process means they have handed their vote to the candidate with the most organized following; in this case, Mohamed Mursi. They have taken a leaf from the book of former presidential candidate Mohamed Elbaradei, who walked when things got tough citing his principles and railing against the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) for obstructing democracy.
Giving up so easily is not only unpatriotic, it is also cowardice. It’s indisputable that the youth deserves all the credit for the uprising. Beginning Jan. 25, 2011, they took to the streets prepared for their blood to be spilled and vowing not to return home until Egypt was freed from dictatorship. God bless them for their bravery but it’s sad that since those heady days, they’ve stubbornly eschewed the idea that half a loaf is better than no loaf at all. They also made the fatal mistake of not fielding a candidate from one of their number; their spokespersons would always contend that they were activists not politicians.
For instance, Google Marketing Manager Wael Ghonim, an inspirational figure who emerged as the face of the revolution, virtually disappeared off the scene once Mubarak had been forced to step down. He may be too young to run for president but armed with the public’s respect and confidence, he should have stuck around to use his massive influence for good. He’s like the man who stirred-up a nest of angry wasps without finishing the job. The result is people around have been stung. Ghonim’s crowd complains bitterly about the theft of their revolution variously by Islamists, the military and the remnants of the old regime. In reality, they shouldn’t complain because they unwittingly gave it away.
As I write, the international media is broadly condemning the Supreme Constitutional Court for dissolving the Islamist-dominated Parliament and handing SCAF’s officers, military police and intelligence arm power to detain and arrest dissenting civilians who will be tried by military tribunal, echoes of the quashed decades-long emergency laws. The skies over Cairo and other cities are patrolled by military helicopters while tanks ring Parliament’s lower and upper houses as well as embassies and government buildings. Army personnel carriers have been seen ferrying burly, hooded Special Forces to sensitive locations to deter trouble makers. SCAF’s strategy may have been effective. I drove past Cairo’s Tahrir Square yesterday afternoon. Traffic was flowing normally around a handful of flapping tents looking the worse for wear.
Likewise, US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton has been wagging her finger at the SCAF insisting that democratically-elected governance be transferred to a civilian government forthwith, saying there’s no going back. Amnesty International has also berated SCAF’s new powers of arrest that it says opens the door to human rights abuses. The US should mind its own business. Washington is no longer a model of democracy or a beacon of freedom when George W. Bush took the White House despite the fact his rival Al Gore received more popular votes. And as for human rights abuses, Amnesty International should concern itself with the closure of America’s gulag on the island of Cuba whose inmates — many of them deemed entirely innocent — have no rights of habeas corpus neither protections under the Geneva Conventions.
One has to wonder why the Obama administration is so keen to see the Muslim Brotherhood take the country when it is known to be cozy with Tehran and has close links with Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Egyptians should remember how supportive the US was of fair and free, internationally monitored Palestinian elections. Palestinians were heartily congratulated by the US and Europe for their moves toward democracy until Hamas took the prize when they were summarily dumped, abandoned without funds and incited to turn against one another resulting in Israel’s blockade of Gaza that exists even today.
Forgetting political correctness, forgetting international norms and attitudes, forgetting high-flying democratic ideals, Egypt’s military is the only body equipped to keep the country safe from malign interior and exterior influences. The army either owns or operates 30 percent of the economy and has been in control behind the screen since the 1952 military coup. Its commanders and officers are among the Egyptian nation’s most educated and experienced individuals; they proved their worth when, unlike the Syrian military, they declined to turn their guns on the people.
Like it or not, democracy is a process. It doesn’t come to fruition overnight — and until it can flourish naturally the US administration, the do-gooders and the idealistic should back off. Egyptians are human beings with similar needs and wants to people everywhere on the planets, not bullet points in some democratic theorist’s manual or pawns in the game play of major powers. Until they can get their act together at such time as someone with genuine leadership potential comes to the fore, as long as SCAF is the hand that rocks the cradle — at least in the interim — they’ll grumble but they’ll be OK.

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