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I don’t feel like editing my work anymore

There are two key differences between the coup that ended the January 25 Revolution and the coup that began the January 30 Revolution – to still unclear results. The mechanism allowing the army to rationalize the coup – whether genuinely or not – is similar. However, the underlying interests behind each differ vastly.

Firstly, this is demonstrated by the differences in timeframe. Arrests of senior NDP officials including Mubarak took a lot longer than one day; and many of them have never been tried or convicted. Moreover, the military re-appointed Chief Prosecutor Abdel Meguid Mahmoud, who immediately resigned. This is a strong symbolic repudiation of Morsi’s administration, which made Meguid’s dismissal a priority to the extent of pursuing constitutionally dubious power-grabs. Likely Morsi’s Sinai and Syria policies, vocally conspiratorial statements, and forced retirement of top long-term military officials further influenced prior military planning. But the carefully timed ultimately, coinciding with Sami Anan’s resignation, and the swift and carefully executed arrest of Morsi, and immediate shut-downs of satellite channels and round-ups of a large number of Freedom and Justice Party officials and then top Muslim Brotherhood officials.

Secondly, the National Democratic Party was established in 1978 by President Sadat. By 2011, it was all but a state institution. Therefore, an aggressive dismantling of those networks would have been appropriate, but didn’t really occur. Conversely, there are widespread elite complaints about Brotherhood autocracy. I am personally wary of how influential such complaints are on the ground. Previously, Egyptians have consistently preferred decisive, powerful presidents in opinon polls. However, his very public bumbling probably also attracted due attention that bothered the military in addition to virtually every non-Islamist political faction.

But the aggressive response in rounding up the Brotherhood and the FJP is not analogous to the NDP. Because despite general fears, and undoubtedly a ridiculously blatant and fascistic trend towards autocracy and power-consolidation by Morsi was occuring, the level of anger produced in comparison to that of 30 years of oppression under Mubarak is irrational, and somewhat surprising. Based on my own demographic knowledge, which in these protests is limited, friends have mentioned that they are much more diverse – in part simply because are larger than in 2011-2012.

But I suspect a new segment between those periods – from anecdotal observation of friends – is former regime members nominally or otherwise – people who for whatever reason may not have directly participated on the streets in 2011, and chose to now. But again, the level of joy and unbridled celebration is as disturbing as it is utterly unwarranted. I cannot defend President Morsi. I genuinely don’t understand both how progressive manipulation and de-legitimzation of the constituion could subsequently be ignored to argue now – where it matters to him – that he is the constitutionally legitimate leader.

Certainly there is a commonly understandable element of truth to that; but constitutional legitimacy requires a respect for constitutionalism that left Morsi, in the end, lacking in broadly perceived legitimacy. And traditionally, rebellion or mass civil disobedience is a good indicator of legitimacy. In this case, the world has made much of anti-Morsi protests, but it is not clear – now that he is out – what either majority or plurality want. There is a high degree of division. But alignment past the immediate moment, for instance on other substantive issues, is probably not so clear cut. However, arguably a key problem with Morsi’s ouster is not that he is out.

The FJP leadership must have known it was overplaying its hand in terms of how outright their majority support was. And in fact they must know that the majority of Egypt would not outright support the Brotherhood or FJP. But since they won a number of elections for whatever reason, there were fears they were trying to consolidate in lieu of future free or fair elections – a long-term fear of Islamist groups. And plenty of people who went out to protest in so-called ‘pro-‘Morsi protests were really protesting against extra-legal and extra-judicial measures that negate democratic procedures. This is the second military coup in two and a half years. And structures tend to reproduce themselves. One need only look to Turkey until very recently as one example, Syria after World War II, Sudan, Chad, or Mauritania.

But in the end, as intolerable as the situation may have been, this was probably the worst resolution from a structural sense. A referendum could have been forced, or early elections. These would have allowed constitutional continuity and would have majorly undercut a key source of ‘legitimacy’ in the eyes of Morsi’s supporters – at least in discourse. But worst of all, the country is now divided in the most intractable manner, having begun its infighting with an eye towards likely much more. But the military retains an autonomous, politically active role without civilan control.

A former professor, Ezzedine Choukri Fishere, mentioned in an interview (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9hA9RiKq7k) that he believed mass mobilization would constitute an adequate mechanism for pressuring either the army or autocratic rulers. In the latter case, I think this is probably right. But in the same structural manner, people have – at least initially – overwhelming welcomed military domination with a short span. And this is highly troubling, because it suggests the army is far and away more popular than any of the leaders that hope to subordinate it – at least for the moment.