Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

The Nile of Democracy Will Flood Egypt’s Jihadists

July 10, 2013 6:32 am 4 comments

Egyptian protests. Photo: Muhammad Mansour.

As soon as the Egyptian military asked President Mohammed Morsi to step down and dismantle his Muslim Brotherhood regime, millions in the streets of Cairo and other Egyptian cities and towns celebrated the end of what they felt was a dangerous fascistic regime. But despite overwhelming popular support for the ousting of the Ikhwan (Muslim Brotherhood) from power, some U.S. leaders, starting with President Barack Obama and later joined by Republican Senator John McCain, expressed their rejection of the move because they argued it was “directed by the Egyptian military against a democratically elected Government.”

Awkwardly, the United States executive branch, along with some of its supporters in the legislature, sided with the Muslim Brotherhood, known to be hard core Islamists, against a wide coalition of democratic and secular forces which called on the military to help them against what they perceived to be an oppressive regime. Observers both in the Middle East and in the West have asked how this equation can hold.

Why would Obama and McCain end up backing the Ikhwan while the liberals and seculars forces of Egyptian civil society rise against the Brotherhood? The chaos in Washington has several roots but one global fact is clear: U.S. Foreign Policy has lost momentum in the Arab Spring.

The first waves of the revolution in January 2011 were launched and inspired by secular and reformist youth, as I had projected in my book The Coming Revolution: Struggle for Freedom in the Middle East published in 2010, before the upheavals. The first Facebook page of the “Egyptian Revolution” attracted 85,000 “likes.” Many of these early online supporters hit Tahrir Square and drew up to a million citizens from the middle class, from labor, students, women, and minorities. The revolution was the baby of moderate, secular, and democratic segments of Egyptian civil society who have never spoken in public or taken action on the streets. Once the U.S. and international community recognized them as peaceful demonstrators, the Muslim Brotherhood rushed in and created their “quarter” inside the Square.

From there on, the Ikhwan maneuvered between the military and the youth, pitting one against the other and taking full advantage of the Obama Administration’s vigorous support. In June 2012, Mohammed Morsi won Egypt’s presidential election. This election was praised as “democratically held” by Washington and Western chanceries. While vastly questioned by the Egyptian opposition, the results were accepted as a democratic fact, internationally. Morsi was “democratically elected” in as much as the opposition was not able to draw any attention from a U.S. influenced Western coalition. The sour reality was more of a Washington endorsement to the Ikhwan, trusting their ability to change things for the better, than a truly popular representation. All observers agreed that half of the Morsi voters were not even members of his party, but were rather simply opposed to the other candidate, a remnant of the Mubarak regime.

Morsi then used the next twelve months to deconstruct every aspect of the democratic achievements of the initial Egyptian revolution. He issued a Presidential “constitutional decree,” modifying the constitutional basic rights of Egyptians with major setbacks for women, minorities, and seculars, and without consultations with the opposition. On those grounds alone, Morsi had committed a breach in constitutional and human rights of Egyptians. He then attempted to transform the leadership of the Army and security forces into Ikhwan extensions; he also appointed extremist governors throughout the country, including a member of a terrorist group as a governor of the Luxor district, a target of the group’s terror strikes in 1997.

In parallel, the Brotherhood regime allowed Islamist militias to grow across the country and opened a dialogue with al-Qaeda linked groups in Sinai. In foreign policy, Morsi stood against the African campaign against al-Qaeda in Northern Mali; consolidated ties with the ICC-indicted head of Sudan’s regime, General Omar Bashir; hosted terror group Hamas in Cairo; and aided the Nahda Party in Tunisia as the latter reduced women’s rights in their country and established cooperation with the Jihadi militias of Libya (one of whom was responsible for the Benghazi attack against the U.S. consulate). In 2013, Morsi presided over a rally to support the A-Q affiliated al Nusra Front in Syria and backed suicide fatwas issued by his allies.

On the economic level, the Brotherhood regime mismanaged the country’s fledgling finances while at the same time receiving significant funding from the United States, Europe, and Qatar. The social disparities already monumental under Mubarak became epic under Mursi.

The Ikhwan regime, though democratically elected, had deconstructed the democratic legitimacy of the one-time election process by becoming an isolated, oppressive elite ruling the country at the expense of all other citizens. One election rendered Morsi a legal President, but by his anti-democratic actions, the legitimacy of his presidency was lost.

Unfortunately, Egypt has no recall process or impeachment mechanisms. Besides, the Brotherhood had secured as much power as the national socialists and fascists had in pre-WWII Europe after being elected at the helm of the legislative and executive powers by the power of “brown shirts.” Egypt’s democratic forces had no choice but to resort to demonstrations and free expression. They staged marches after marches since the end of 2012, but the U.S. and Europe were silent, hoping Mursi would survive the tremors. The Ikhwan took the deaf-ears policy of the West as an endorsement to their agenda and applied more violence against their opponents. The liberal opposition appealed to the Army for months, to no avail. It was only when civil society revolutionary groups such as “Tamarod” (rebels) mobilized the masses against the Brotherhood suppression that Egypt was closer to its second revolution. Revolutionizing the Arab Spring, “Tamarod” called for a national popular demonstration to vote with their feet for the removal of Mursi on June 30, 2013.

Very few in the West paid serious attention to Tamarod and its bottom-up uprising. The second wave of the Arab Spring was boosted by the shocking practices of the Islamist regime in Cairo. On Sunday June 30, more than 22 million Egyptians marched in their capital and in other cities. Statistically, this was the largest demonstration in history, topping the Cedars and Green revolutions of Lebanon and Iran combined. What was morally left of Morsi’s regime was shattered by this mega referendum. The demonstrators were three times the total numbers of his voters one year ago. A petition calling for his resignation gathered another 22 million signatures. But Morsi refused to resign and ordered his followers via a live speech, to mobilize for “Jihad till death.” Responding to a nation gathered on the streets, the Egyptian Army stepped in to prevent a civil war and to end a regime-coup against its own people. The shock of removing Morsi reverberated worldwide, particularly across the petrodollars web of influence backing the Ikhwan. The people’s revolution in Egypt was the accomplishment of the real Arab Spring, at last. The overwhelming majority of Egyptian citizens that took part in the second revolution prompted the country’s armed forces to remove the Muslim Brotherhood and contain the Jihadists across the country.

Sadly, the Obama Administration resisted the popular revolt, arguing Mursi was “democratically elected,” forgetting that he governed oppressively. Some international media also endorsed Morsi and his followers as armed Islamists roamed throughout Egypt, killing and maiming. The second Egyptian revolution is now facing and will be confronting for a long time the counter revolution forces including a non-repentant Ikhwan and a myriad of dangerous Jihadi Terrorists. Egypt will have to fight this cancer for years, but thanks to its courageous civil society, it has already survived the extremists’ yoke. Egypt will not be Iran. The millions who took to the streets formed a Nile of democracy that will flood the Jihadists of Egypt. It will be long and hard, but the Egyptian Spring is now, finally, in progress.

Dr. Walid Phares is the author of The Coming Revolution: Struggle for Freedom in the Middle East which in 2010, predicted the Araab Spring and its evolution. He serves as a Co-Secretary General of the Transatlantic Parliamentary Group on Counter Terrorism.

4 Comments

  • Does anyone else see the parallels between Morsy, Erdogan, and Obama?

  • James Crozier

    Dr. Phares has made an incisive review of the hoped for outcome. Especially on beam with his review of the failure of U.S. policy at a critical juncture in Egyptian development.
    As for the ‘loss of momentum’ though, U.S. interests in the region demand standing down from the lead in endorsing Islamist or secularist groups, simply because to do so leads to false expectations among the conflicted parties that the U.S. can not possibly live up to as a mediator or facilitator. Perhaps part of the problem all these years has been too much mediation and interference from the international community. Especially the wealthy west that so often picks up the tab under the guise of U.N involvement.
    No doubt after ’56 Egypt would like to avoid any possibility of U.N. involvement and work the issues out at home.
    After all, who better knows the opposing sides than themselves.

  • Fredric M. London

    Obama is in sympathy with Islamist terrorist organizations. In his worldview, jihadists are good people. Naturally he supported them over liberal democratic factions, and naturally he is disappointed to see them in decline. Democracy is NOT Obama’s aim (see his secretive presidency), but the accession of terrorist extremists is his goal.

    As for McCain, all I can think of is he has finally succumbed to Alzheimer’s.

  • steve kollander

    ….and until state-sanctioned oppression of religious freedom by non-Muslims is eradicated and rampant anti-Semitism (in the guise of anti-Zionism, of course)is no longer considered acceptable, this Arab Spring too, will just be a transient gust of political wind.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Blogs Book Reviews Can ‘Islamic Reformation’ Work? (REVIEW)

    Can ‘Islamic Reformation’ Work? (REVIEW)

    It is cocktail hour on an April afternoon in 2004. The sun is hot on Amsterdam’s canals, and I am sitting at Café den Leeuw on the Herengracht with Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Hirsi Ali is still a member of the Dutch Parliament, and we talk about Islam. Specifically, we talk about the concept of “moderate Islam,” or what she calls “liberal Islam.” And she has one word for it. “It’s absurd,” she says. “It’s complete nonsense. There is no ‘liberal […]

    Read more →
  • Food Jewish Identity A Look at the Vilna Vegetarian Cookbook (REVIEW)

    A Look at the Vilna Vegetarian Cookbook (REVIEW)

    Everybody knows that cooking varies from country to country. There are Italian restaurants, Chinese restaurants, etc. We associate different styles of cuisine with different languages. Do we also think of the association of different cuisines with different dialects? We should, because cooking also varies from region to region. Litvaks and Galitsyaners have their own traditions of preparing gefilte fish. Marvin I. Herzog, in his book The Yiddish Language in Northern Poland: Its Geography and History (Indiana University, Bloomington, and Mouton & Co., The […]

    Read more →
  • Relationships US & Canada Analysis: Jewish Women Less Likely Than Catholics to Take Husband’s Name

    Analysis: Jewish Women Less Likely Than Catholics to Take Husband’s Name

    An analysis of New York Times wedding announcements showed that women married in Jewish ceremonies were less likely to take their husband’s last names than those married in Roman Catholic ceremonies, the Times reported on Saturday. The largest gap between the two groups was in 1995 when 66 percent of Catholic women took their husband’s names and 33 percent of Jewish women did the same. Nearly half of the women featured in the publication’s wedding pages since 1985 took their husband’s name after marriage, while about […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Jerry Lewis, Legendary Jewish Comic and Humanitarian, Stays Relevant at 89

    Jerry Lewis, Legendary Jewish Comic and Humanitarian, Stays Relevant at 89

    JNS.org – Through appreciation of both his comedy and humanitarian work, legendary Jewish entertainer Jerry Lewis is staying relevant at age 89. The only comic to ever be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, Lewis added another award to his trophy case in April, when he received the 2015 Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB). Gordon Smith, NAB’s president and CEO, said the organization was “honored to recognize not only [Lewis’s] comedic innovation, but also his remarkable […]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports Israeli Gymnasts Win Bronze, Silver Medals at 2015 European Games in Baku

    Israeli Gymnasts Win Bronze, Silver Medals at 2015 European Games in Baku

    Israeli athletes marked a successful day on Sunday, as gymnasts won multiple bronze and silver medals in the 2015 European Games in Baku. The Gymnastics team won two silver medals and one bronze in group events, while Neta Rivkin, an Israeli Olympic gymnast, won bronze for the Solo Hoops event. Sunday’s gymnastics wins follow Sergey Richter’s bronze on June 16 for the Men’s 10 meter air-rifle, and Ilana Kratysh’s silver for women’s freestyle wrestling. The 2015 European Games in Baku are […]

    Read more →
  • Theater Report Highlights Success of Russian-Jewish-American Ballroom Dancers

    Report Highlights Success of Russian-Jewish-American Ballroom Dancers

    Russian-American Jews are some of the most successful ballroom dancing competitors in the U.S., South Dakota Public Broadcasting (SDPB) Radio reported on Thursday. Jonathan Sarna, a professor of Jewish history at Brandeis University, said their success can be traced back to Jewish discrimination in the former Soviet Union. Because of the prejudice they faced, Russian Jews had to perform better than their peers in every field, including dancing, in order to have a chance of getting ahead. “They knew that if they […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Israeli Dancer With Shofar, Prayer Shawl Wows ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ Judges (VIDEO)

    Israeli Dancer With Shofar, Prayer Shawl Wows ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ Judges (VIDEO)

    An Israeli dancer made use of Jewish props in an extraordinary routine that left judges amazed when he auditioned for season 12 of TV dance competition So You Think You Can Dance on Monday. At first, the panel of judges appeared confused when Asaf Goren, 23, began his audition in Los Angeles with a tallit (prayer shawl) over his head and the blowing of a shofar, which he explained “opens the sky” for people’s prayers. However, as soon as he started his “Hebrew breaking” performance, […]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Jewish Hoops Fairytale Falls Short as David Blatt’s Cavaliers Drop Game 6

    Jewish Hoops Fairytale Falls Short as David Blatt’s Cavaliers Drop Game 6

    JNS.org – A fairytale ending to Jewish basketball coach David Blatt’s first season in the National Basketball Association (NBA) was not meant to be, as the Blatt-led Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night dropped Game 6 of the NBA Finals to the Golden State Warriors, 105-97, to lose the best-of-seven series 4-2. Blatt, who just last year coached Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv franchise to a European basketball championship, failed to finish a second straight hoops season on top. But after the Cavaliers began the NBA […]

    Read more →