Ousting of Muslim Brotherhood another step in revolution
The opposition wisely chose Mohamed ElBaradei as negotiator
Egypt’s chief justice Adly Mansour (centre) being applauded by chiefs of the constitutional court after he was sworn in as the nation’s interim president yesterday. Photograph: Amr Nabil/AP
Still in the throes of a “revolution” that started in 2011, Egypt has not rejected democracy but deposed the autocratic Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s largest and most organised political force which had taken over both the executive and legislature and written a new constitution to promote a fundamentalist agenda that would have changed Egypt from a civil state into an Islamic state.
Egyptians speaking to The Irish Times said it was a mistake to think the “revolution” ended with the elections that brought the Brotherhood to power: the “revolution” continues and has a long way to go, they say.
The inauguration of Egypt’s chief justice Adly Mansour as interim president yesterday, 14 hours after the ousting of president Mohamed Morsi, demonstrated that the army and the opposition are determined to launch the transition from Brotherhood rule to multiparty democracy as soon as possible.
Mansour appears to be an independent for all seasons, and a convenient choice.
He was appointed to the high court under the administration of deposed president Hosni Mubarak and named top judge by ousted president Morsi.
During his inauguration address, Mansour spoke about Morsi’s interference in the judiciary and the media, suggesting that this kind of behaviour would not be accepted during the interim period. Mansour revealed his pragmatic side when he stated that “worship of the ruler” should end.
While the army – which is “in control”, according to a longstanding Arab observer of the Egyptian scene – and the opposition closed down the Brotherhood’s television channel and Al-Jazeera’s live streaming channel (Mubasher), and switched off an appeal by Morsi, the Brotherhood’s official website seems to be operating normally, berating the army and opposition.
The Brotherhood is certain to be politically diminished and even shunned by former supporters because of its failure to address the basic concerns of Egyptians since winning parliamentary elections 18 months ago.
Its role in the post-Morsi era is likely to depend on the behaviour of its leadership from now on. So far, the 85-year-old movement’s old guard, which remains in charge, is in denial. The movement risks being banned if these leaders do not change their mindset, fail to adjust to the movement’s loss of power and encourage members to engage in violence against the interim regime.
A change in mindset will be very difficult for Brotherhood elders who spent time in prison, in exile or on the run over the past decades. They have both a deep hatred for the secular authorities as well as a persecution complex which has been conveyed to hard-core supporters but which has alienated young members of the movement who have defected and formed their own party.
However, if the Brotherhood is persecuted, it could regain the moral high ground and recoup defectors and even secure sympathy and support.
The ultraconservative Salafi Call and its political arm, the Nour Party, formerly aligned with the Brotherhood, joined the opposition ahead of the June 30th protests and is now a part of the transitional team. Consequently, the Salafis could press the Brotherhood to reconcile with the new order.
The opposition June 30th Front wisely chose Mohamed ElBaradei, one of the founders of the 11-member National Salvation Front, as its spokesman and negotiator for the transition. While he is not considered a candidate for prime minister, he may be able to create some unity among factions in the fractured and fractious opposition. Their failure to come together after the uprising meant there was no serious electoral challenge to the Brotherhood and the Salafis, allowing them to secure control of parliament and the drafting of the constitution.
The Irish Times’s source does not believe the opposition can organise, secure the funds required to campaign extensively, and win a majority of seats in parliament, but he said it could secure the presidency.
On the regional plane, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have hailed the end of Brotherhood rule in Egypt, suggesting that relations between Egypt and its Gulf allies and financiers could improve.
Syria’s beleaguered president Bashar al-Assad has said the removal of Morsi heralds the “fall of so-called political Islam”, a view shared by veteran Egyptian commentators Hisham Kassem and Youssef Zaki.