The only state in the Middle East that is a true democracy is Israel. True democracy is where all citizens have the right to vote and be elected. Last week such rights were removed from the elected leadership of Egypt. President Morsi and senior officials were removed from office by the army; they were placed under arrest and offered exile in Turkey or Qatar; and their right to vote and be elected was removed. The next steps in Egypt are lucid.
There will be elections at a yet to be determined date but as postulated prior to the last elections, it is not who votes, how many vote or for whom, but who counts the votes. If Egypt were a true democracy then the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi could stand for election again; however Egypt is not a true democracy. It is not yet apparent if the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi will be permitted to stand for election again; it is not yet unambiguous if the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi will boycott the next elections even if they are permitted to stand for election; it is not yet clear if the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi will be permitted to vote in the next elections.
Assuming that the answer is YES then the important question is – What if. That is what if the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi win the next elections? This presumes that the ballot is without any irregularities. Will the army then permit the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi to once again assume government in Egypt. The answer is doubtful because Egypt is not a true democracy. So it is fair to presuppose that the next elections will not be won by the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi. The list of candidates is therefore reduced to those that have close ties with the military and can work with them. A careful observation and analysis of Egyptian civil-military relations will provide the answer as to Egypt’s next elected leadership.
This was the failure of the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi. They had good intentions to endorse economic and social improvements for the entire Egyptian population. However these could not have been implemented in one year and would have needed the active participation of the economic power wielders, who are the military. In their first and only year in office the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi failed to reach agreement with the military and failed to work with them. There is no doubt that the military were not willing partners; the military made no concerted effort to assist or guide or initiate any economic or other reforms with the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi. There is also no doubt that the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi issued economic and other reforms but the economic power wielders, who are the military, did not make a concerted effort to implement them.
Perhaps the military used to the President being from their own ranks were unable to associate with a non-military President. To be fair, the military did give the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi one last chance in the form of an ultimatum. However, the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi lacked leadership qualities and met their fate because they didn’t accept that the true power wielders in Egypt are the military. So the outcome was a foregone conclusion, leaving only the timing and the manner to speculation. With growing popular dissent the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi could not lead Egypt for a protracted period and the population would not and could not tolerate the deteriorating economic and social conditions.
In a true democracy, and indeed in Egypt’s constitution, there is the stipulation that a government can be removed by elections or by a vote of no confidence in parliament. However Egypt is not is a true democracy, it is ruled by the military either directly or as the power behind the throne. Let this be clear for the outcome of the next elections. Egyptian governance is determined by civil-military relations. Between now and the next elections and after them, there is no doubt that the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi will not take their loss as an absolute. The taste of power is both sweet and bitter. Between now and the next elections and after them there is no doubt that economic and social conditions will not improve. The Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi will be blamed for many years to come as the reason why economic and social conditions cannot be implemented quickly. The military have found, or created their scapegoat.
The only question left in this world of certainty and uncertainty is the identity of the Egyptian military officers that Israel needs to work with to ensure the continuance of the peace treaty, to ensure the security in the Sinai peninsula and to ensure the open passage of shipping in the Suez that will keep the world out of region. Perhaps these are not the same that the next elected President needs to maintain his governance; perhaps Egypt will also see a power struggle within the military as the younger generation seek higher office.
Dr Glen Segell, FRGS, is Researcher at The Institute for National Security Studies Tel Aviv, Lecturer at Bar-Ilan University and Senior Researcher for the Ariel Research Center for Defense and Communication.