Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Coup in Egypt?

The situation in Egypt is not very promising. The people have voted for a parliament and a president.

After Islamic factions won the parliament, the military dissolved it.

Not exactly a democratic outcome.

The results of the presidential election have not been announced, but the Muslim Brotherhood candidate seems very, very likely to have won the presidential election. Will the new president be empowered or will he be disempowered by the military? As of now, we don't know.

According to David Goldman the Egyptian military is receiving financial support from Saudi Arabia.

No one knows exactly where we are going from here, but the possibility of a military coup increases by the day.

Naturally, the Obama administration is siding with the Muslim Brotherhood, threatening to withdraw military aid if the Brothers are not given complete power in Egypt.

Well over a year ago, when the Arab Spring made its way to Egypt,  commentators the world over were predicting that democracy was coming to Egypt, just as it had come to Eastern Europe. At the time, I suggested that we would do better to see the potential parallel with what happened in Algeria two decades ago.

There, an election was held. Islamist parties won. The military nullified the election, and s civil war ensued.

As of today, I’m looking a lot more prophetic than certain columnists.

One reason I was able to remain rational about the Arab Spring was that I paid close attention to the views of David Goldman. This morning Goldman offered his perspective about the current state of things in Egypt. In passing her makes reference to the pundits and commentators who got it so wrong last year.

In his words:

There are still democracy activists on Tahrir Square wondering where their revolution went, calling for a million-man march against the military’s “coup.” But the punditeska that hailed the Arab Spring as the best thing since the American founding is thunderously silent. Where is the snow job of yesteryear? The punditeska’s infatuation with the Arab Spring ran across the whole political spectrum, from Tom Friedman at the New York Times to Bill Kristol at the Weekly Standard. When it came to the crunch, the “tech-savvy activists” of Tahrir Square turned out to be “benzine bubbles floating atop the viscous Nile mud,” as I called them in February 2011. Both the Facebook revolution and the Facebook IPO since have gone pear-shaped, and what is left is the mud of Egyptian society: the military against the Muslim Brotherhood.

The collective sigh of relief is audible. The prospect of a Muslim Brotherhood regime controlling Egypt’s parliament as well as the presidency was too horrible to contemplate, especially in light of the unending horror in Syria. Democracy is betrayed by collusion of Egypt’s old regime and one of the world’s nastiest regimes, but the punditeska is too pleased to protest. Not even Tom Friedman wants the Muslim Brothers to get control of the Egyptian state. For the moment, Egyptians have Saudi Arabia to thank for their penny-a-loaf pita ration, and the hand the military had to kiss in order to get it. And that is immeasurably better than the alternative.

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