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What Should We Do About Egypt?

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Message Sam Amer

(Image by Gigi Ibrahim)   Details   DMCA

by Gigi Ibrahim

The short answer to this question is NOTHING!

We should let the Egyptians handle their own affairs. They have run their country for the last 5000 years and they can continue to do so. Whether or not we should withhold military assistance to them is really a moot point for several reasons:

1.      The assistance was put in place to support the peace treaty with Israel. Today, Egypt presents no threat to Israel: it is too weak and too preoccupied with its own internal crises to worry about anyone else's problems.
2.      Military equipment to Egypt now only strengthens the hand of the armed forces, which puts us on their side. We should take absolutely no sides in what is happening in Egypt right now.
3.      The tanks and other equipment we would send to Egypt usually end up as scrap metal in the desert anyway.

Over the last 80 years or so, the Moslem Brotherhood in Egypt has been trying to control the government of Egypt. They established a grass roots organization in 1928. They started as a peaceful organization teaching Islam and promoting friendships and social good. Soon, they wanted to control the government. They did not hesitate to use all available means, including assassinations (including of President Sadat) and bombings to grasp the reigns of power. Their methods put them at odds with successive ruling governments, which were forced to act against them. The Brotherhood then went underground. This lasted until two years ago, when Mr. Morsi was elected president in the afterglow of ousting the Mubarak dictatorship. The Brotherhood quickly and clearly demonstrated that they have little understanding of what democracy entails and showed everyone that they were unfit to govern, period. They filled all the important governmental posts with their members and exhibited great incompetence in most aspects of government.

After this experience, many Egyptians, felt even the dictatorship of Mubarak was preferable to the incompetence of Morsi. When the army responded to the people's demands and removed Morsi, the Brotherhood resorted once again to violence, attacking Christian churches and peaceful sit-ins, and disrupting the progress of Egyptians' daily life in an effort to force Morsi's return to power. But the Egyptian people don't want him back. They are now forming local defensive committees in the different neighborhoods to defend against the brotherhood created violence. The army is supporting the people. The Brotherhood will surely lose; they have no support outside their cadres. Their place is underground, as they were for the last six to eight decades. But, it may take a long and bloody struggle to return them there.

I remember when Nasser was forced to push the Brotherhood underground after they attempted to kill him, the slogan all around Egypt was "My brother: please shave your beard, we understand you better now". Of course, this was a reference to the large beards for which the Moslem Brotherhood are known [can you elaborate on what you mean by moderate by special form of Islamism? That would be interesting here.]

The bulk of the Egyptians are secular. Although Islam is by far the majority religion, most Egyptians practice Islam as more of a habit than anything else. They are certainly not as devout as the Iranians or even the Afghanis. Going to the mosque in Egypt is a more of a habit than anything else. In fact, most Egyptians don't even go to the mosque. They appreciate what Profit Mohammad said, "Religion is between you and God, it is something in the heart".

What Does the Future Hold for Egypt and the Egyptians?

The only possible way out of the present mess is for the Brotherhood to be forced underground again -- for now and hopefully forever. The Egyptian people, with the support of the Egyptian army,  are already trying to do so. The Brotherhood will resist that to their last man.

It may become even uglier but there is no way around it. The Brotherhood is unable to govern Egypt and their leaders don't understand democracy. The question now is: will the army will be content to help conduct new and fair elections and install a new civilian government chosen by the representatives of the people? Will it then to go back to its barracks?

Mr. Morsi's election happened under very special circumstances. The people were giddy after the removal of Mubarak, a nearly miraculous event unimaginable by most Egyptians, including me. At that poit, anyone other than Mubarak would have been acceptable. The other leading candidate reeked too much of Mubarak; the Egyptians wanted a cleaner slate. They settled for Morsi. He could have succeeded had he understood what it took to rule and did not transform into another dictator overnight.

The Role of the United States:

The United States has no role here. We have no business interfering in Egyptian affairs. We shall collect blame no matter what we do and ultimately we will only further reduce our influence and position. Instead, we should be more concerned about our own democracy here rather than worry about instituting democracy elsewhere. As it has been said many times, "You can't export what you don't have".

We must leave Egypt alone. The Egyptians are capable of handling their own affairs. Revolutions and not clean or tidy affairs. It may take several tries for the Egyptians to get free and rule themselves in a system that best suits Egypt, not the United States.

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Retired Pharmacologist with two masters and a Ph.D.
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