Does Egypt Have a New President?
There are celebrations in some quarters in the Arab world. Some are celebrating the defeat of Ahmad Shafik (the candidate of Israel, US, EU, Saudi Arabia, and the old regime order of Egypt.)
Some are celebrating the assumption of Islamism to power in Egypt. Others are celebrating the victory of the Qatari candidate. And yet others are celebrating the victory of the Muslim Brotherhood in the most important Arab country.
Islamists from Iran to Algeria are pleased that Islamism seems to be ascendants. But there is no need to celebrate, although Islamists are justified in opening champagne bottles. It is a big occasion for all Islamists.
But the election should be seen for what it is: politics in Egypt has not been freed up since the downfall of Mubarak. The entire political game is run by an unelected body of generals – all of whom have been handpicked by Mubarak himself.
It is quite ironic that an unelected election commission and an unelected body of judges (or handpicked by the Mubarak regime) have more power than an Egyptian parliament that more than all previous parliaments reflected – more or less and despite the various corruption, fraud, and irregularities that accompanied the electoral process – popular Egyptian political preferences.
Unelected officials (who answer to the unelected Military Council) have more power than the elected representatives of the Egyptian people. The process is very opaque and the Military Council has its own sources of funding and it clearly coordinates its move with the US and Saudi Arabia (and Israel, the ally of both).
The military council calls the shots and those – like the Revolutionary Socialists – who from the day that Mubarak fell have been calling for the downfall of the Military Council and for the execution of Tantawi have been less burdened by political illusions than liberals and even some Nasserists.
There can be no democracy in Egypt in the presence of the military council. Many of us were skeptical about Mohamed el-Baradei but he saw that early on and doubted the legitimacy of a process in light of the political and military control by the Tantawi junta.
No one knows what role Mohammed Mursi will have. No one knows what prerogatives and powers the new president will have. The military council will tailor the new constitution according to its interests, and to the interests of its sponsors in Riyadh and Washington, DC.
It has been proven that the Military Council can resort to dictatorial decisions and attribute them to some judicial court or to an election commission.
There is no control or oversight, except what the Egyptian people can do on the streets. The pressures of demonstrations have not been sufficient – the revolutionaries of Egypt have not pushed hard enough and the Bastille moment has not arrived.
The Egyptian revolutionaries may soon reach the same conclusions that French revolutionaries reached when they stormed the Bastille. The new parliament and the new president won’t be able to rule side-by-side with the Military Council – it is not even a duality of power. The council scrapped a newly elected parliament by a decree (transmitted through the unelected judicial council).
Ahmad Shafik was the candidate of the counter-revolution. He was supported by Saudi Arabia, the US, and Israel, while Qatar – consistent with its agenda of promotion of the Brotherhood – supported their candidate (the Lebanese branches of the Muslim Brotherhood are closer to Saudi Arabia than to Qatar).
The regional conflict rages on while the Arab people are not permitted to make free choices in truly free election. Saudi Prince Muqrin is the most important voter in every Arab election: from Lebanon to Egypt. Saudi and Qatari money (along with a covert US role), are distorting and deforming the public political choices of the Arab people.
Egypt is not done with its uprising and there is still a chance to push for a full-blown revolution. The matter is in the hands of the Egyptian people – if they exercise their power.
But revolutions can’t be accomplished in the ballot box and can’t be left in the hands of reactionary generals. The liberal discourse still hovers over political action in Egypt, and the task of revolutionaries is to discard the liberal chains that are imposed by the will of Western governments.
Mursi is now a president of Egypt, but he has two bosses – the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood, which plucked him from obscurity to appoint him as a reserve candidate, and the Military Council which still insists that it alone determines the course of Egypt’s foreign and defense policies.
You may know who is ruling Egypt by watching the Rafah crossing. If it remains closed, you know that the generals (and Israel and Saudi Arabia behind them) are still running the show.
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