Egyptian Illusion, Elusion and Allusion

Civil-military relations are the respite to Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi who marks his first anniversary in office, as a prisoner in his own palace beleaguered by political crises, constant political unrest, a collapsing economy and a society deeply split. There is increasing unemployment, particularly among the young, fuel shortages and a drain on reserves of foreign currency; this has frightened away foreign investors and tourists. As a prisoner of his success he is afflicted with illusion that he only needs to survive today to endure another year; for demonstrations appear to only coincide with anniversaries. He and the Moslem Brotherhood are deluded by elusion as the real power is still in the hands of the military. This is despite the popular allusion that democracy aka political Islam has taken roots.

The illusion is that Morsi as the first civilian to be elected to President is in absolute control and not the army who has held power through decades of Generals assuming the Presidency. The allusion be known is that army chief General Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, who is also the Minister of Defense, has little care for the fate of Morsi and the Moslem Brotherhood. On the first anniversary of Morsi’s rule, al-Sisi is of no illusion that the country and his military power are of prime importance. The army is on high alert deploying units nation wide to tackle mass protests. It was al-Sisi and not Morsi that warned that he would not allow the country to descend into “uncontrollable conflict”; that the army was obliged to stop Egypt plunging into a “dark tunnel”; and that the army would “not remain silent as the country slides”; an allusion to the consequence of Morsi’s failed leadership.

There is an elusion of the real issue; the world and even Egypt is beset with political Islam; yet this is of little significance for the military are the power wielders through societal division. Egypt’s secular groups claim they have gathered 13 million signatures on a petition calling for the Islamist leader to step down. Morsi’s supporters say he won power in fair elections by an overwhelming majority. The discrepancy can be explained by the accusation that the Muslim Brotherhood bought votes. Some Egyptians allude to the Moslem Brotherhood as “the oil and sugar votes; referring to the food staples handed out by the Brotherhood. However don’t blame the Muslim Brotherhood or the Salafi people if they provide the poor people with what they need.

Elusion of civil-military relations; consequential allusion to the lessons of the Arab Spring; perpetuate the illusion of Morsi’s elected sanctity. From the Arab Spring emerges three categories of civil-military relations; those affected countries whose civil leadership offered concessions and reforms without the use of force and hence remained in power (Jordan, Iraq, Sudan and Bahrain); those countries where the military did not support the civil leadership and hence the leader has fallen (Tunisia, Egypt / Mubarak); and those countries where the military supported the civil leadership but fragmented or defected resulting in violent civil conflict, followed by the fall of the state leader (Libya and Yemen). There has also been instances where the military totally supported the state leader (Saudi Arabia).

Today’s demonstrations in Egypt oblige Morsi to face the obvious allusion; the demise of Arab Spring leaders including his predecessor was through an event similar to their rise to power: demonstrations, revolt, revolution or coup by those younger, more aspiring and more able to invoke the loyalty of their followers. The elusion that the Moslem Brotherhood won an election is beset with the allusion that al-Sisi as both Minister of Defense and Army Chief is calling the shots on law and order including determining whether or not to use force against protesters; which is the key determinant of an Arab Spring ruler retaining tenet. It is an illusion that democracy aka political Islam has taken roots in Egypt; the significant allusion is that General Al-Sisi and the army will effect stability for their own and not for Morsi’s interests. Elusion of such action would endanger their own authority and privileges. Morsi can remain as president if he dispels the illusion that his legitimacy and authority rest on democratic elections; his Presidency relies on support by, of and for the military.

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.

About the Author
Dr Glen Segell is Fellow at the Ezri Center for Iran & Persian Gulf Studies, University of Haifa.