Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
How Egypt's ‘Revolution’ Betrayed Itself
By Ramzy Baroud
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, July 11, 2013
“The revolution is dead. Long live the revolution,” wrote Eric
Walberg, a Middle East political expert and author, shortly after the
Egyptian military overthrew the country’s democratically elected President
Mohammed Morsi on July 3.
But more accurately, the revolution was
killed in an agonizingly slow death, and the murders were too many to count.
Mohamed El-Baradei, a liberal elitist with a dismal track record in
service of western powers during his glamorous career as the head of the
International Atomic Energy Agency, is a stark example of the moral and
political crisis that has befallen Egypt since the ouster of former
President Hosni Mubarak.
El-Baradei played a most detrimental role
in this sad saga, from his uneventful return to Egypt during the Jan. 2011
revolution – being casted as the sensible, western-educated liberator – to
the ousting of the only democratically-elected president this popular Arab
country has ever seen. His double-speak was a testament not only to his
opportunistic nature as a politician and the head of the Dostour Party, but
to the entire political philosophy of the National Salvation Front, the
opposition umbrella group for which he served as a coordinator.
soft-spoken man, who rarely objected to the unfair pressure imposed on Iraq
during his services as the head of the UN nuclear watch dog, was
miraculously transformed into a fierce politician with persisting demands
and expectations. His party, like the rest of Egypt’s opposition, had
performed poorly in every democratic election and referendum held since the
ouster of Mubarak. Democracy proved him irrelevant. But after every failure
he and the opposition managed to emerge even louder thanks to a huge media
apparatus that operated around the clock in a collective, undying commitment
in rearranging the country’s political scene in their favor, regardless of
what the majority of Egyptians thought.
Soon after General
Abdul-Fattah El-Sissi announced a military coup on July 04, in what was a
clearly well-organized conspiracy involving the army, much of the media, the
opposition and disaffected Mubarak-era judges, silencing the Muslim
Brotherhood and their own media were paramount. The level of organization in
which the coup conspirators operated left no doubt that the military was
most insincere when two days earlier they had given the quarreling political
parties 48 hours to resolve their disputes or else.
But of course
there was no room for compromise as far as ElBaradei’s opposition was
concerned, and the army knew that well. On June 30, one year since Morsi had
taken office following transparent, albeit protracted elections, the
opposition organized with the sinister goal of removing the president at any
cost. Some called on the army, which has proven to be extremely devious and
untrustworthy, to lead the ‘democratic’ transition. El-Baradei even invited
supporters of the former regime to join his crusade to oust the Brotherhood.
The idea was simple: to gather as many people in the streets as possible,
claiming a second revolution and calling on the military to intervene to
save Egypt from Morsi and his supposed disregard of the will of the people.
The military, with a repulsive show of orchestrated benevolence, came to the
rescue, in the name of the people and democracy. They arrested the
president, shut down Islamic TV stations, killed many and rounded up
hundreds of people affiliated with the ruling party. Fireworks ensued, El-Baradei
and his men gloated, for Egypt had supposedly been saved.
“Mubarak-era media owners and key members of Egypt’s
liberal and secular opposition have teamed up to create arguably one of the
most effective propaganda campaigns in recent political history, to demonize
Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood,” wrote Mohamad Elmasry of the American
University in Cairo.
Much of the media in Egypt never truly shifted
allegiances. It remained as dirty and corrupt as it was during the Mubarak
regime. It was there to serve the interest of the powerful business and
political elites. But, due to the changing political reality – three
democratic elections and two referendums, all won by Islamic party
supporters – it was impossible for them to operate using the same
language. They too jumped on the revolution bandwagon using the same frame
of references as if they were at the forefront of the fight for freedom,
equality and democracy.
Egypt’s reactionary forces, not only in the
media, but also the pro-Mubarak judges, the self-serving military, etc,
managed to survive the political upheaval not for being particularly clever.
They simply had too much room to regroup and maneuver since the desperate
opposition, ElBaradie and company, put all of their focus on discounting
Morsi, undermining the Muslim Brotherhood, and undercutting the democratic
process that brought them to power. In their desperation and search for
power, they lost sight of the revolution and its original goals, disowned
democracy, but more importantly endangered the future of Egypt itself.
What took place in Egypt, starting with the orchestrated ‘revolution’ on
June 30, from the army’s ultimatum, to the military coup, to the shameless
reinvention of the old order – accompanied with repopulating the prisons and
sending tanks to face unarmed civilians - was not only disheartening to the
majority of Egyptians, but was a huge shock to many people around the world
as well. Egypt, which once inspired the world, is now back to square one.
Since the onset of the so called Arab Spring, an intense debate of
numerous dimensions has ensued. One of its aspects was concerned with the
role of religion in a healthy democracy. Egypt, of course, was in the heart
of that debate, and every time Egyptians went to the ballot box they seemed
to concur with the fact that they wished to see some sort of marriage
between Islam and democracy. It was hardly an easy question, and until now
there have been no convincing answers. But, as in any healthy democracy, it
was the people who were to have the final say. The fact that the choice of a
poor peasant from a distant Egyptian village didn’t match ElBaradei’s
elitist sensibility is of no consequence whatsoever.
unfortunate, but hardly surprising, that many of the idealists who took to
Tahrir Square in Jan. 2011 and spoke of equal rights for all, couldn’t bear
the outcome of that equality. Some complained that decades of
marginalization under Mubarak didn't qualify Egypt’s poor, uneducated and
illiterate to make decisions pertaining to political representation and
democratic constitution. And in a sad turn of events, these very forces were
openly involved in toppling the democratically-elected president and his
party, as they happily celebrated the return to oppression as a glorious day
of freedom. El-Baradie may now return to center stage, lecturing Egypt’s
poor on what true democracy is all about – and why, in some way, the
majority doesn’t matter at all.
- Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net)
is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of
PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is: My Father was A Freedom Fighter:
Gaza's Untold Story (Pluto Press).