It was exactly a month ago that Egyptian Military put its three day old ultimatum ( to all political forces in the country to form a national unity government, or the army would enforce a road map out of the crisis). The result was the ousting of President Mohammed Morsi, and following steps clearly defined in the constitution for such eventuality. This account I wrote three weeks ago for the New African Magazine, now it has been printed. I can put it on this blog.
Four weeks after masses of Egyptians –between 18m to 35 Million ( de-pneds whether you take police or protesters figures) at least three fold the numbers who overthrew President Honsi Mubark regime in February 2011, took to the streets all over the country in “ June 30 Revolution” a tale of two Egypts still unfolding and edging toward serious, and possibly nasty clash.
Having managed to overthrow two regimes in 30 months, Egyptians discovered their mass power to direct politics, forcing the army to break, for the second time, its vow not to three get involved in politics. After reluctantly siding with the majority, the generals took a backseat, but reportedly whispering directions to the nervously cautious driver, Chief Justice Adli Mansour (acting as an interim president, according to a constitution stipulating that the Supreme Constitutional Court becomes state ruling body until a new head is elected ). Within a week, Chief Justice Mansour, moved to the passenger seat handing the wheel to Prime Minister Dr Hazem el-Beblawi , an independent minded reformist and pro-free market economy, international banker, to form a national unity interim government (until the Muslim Brotherhood “vandalised” constitution is repaired and election held next February). Helped by the acting vice president former UN International Atomic Energy Agency chief Dr Mohammed el-Baradai, Dr Beblawi formed a cabinet of technocrats and specialists aging from a 30 year old revolutionary in charge of Youths and Sport portfolio to a 77 year old Justice minister, who sits on the International Court of Justice.
News of five women and three Christians in the cabinet ( a first since the 1952 military coup) caused celebrations in Tharir Square, the birthplace
of both revolutions. Five miles away, thousands of Muslim Brothers supporters bussed from all over Egypt packed Rabaah Mosque Square, where three weeks earlier nervous, sleep-deprived young conscript army soldiers manning the barriers at the Republican Guard HQ a stone-throw from the mosque, panicked at the sight of an angry MB mob charging at them throwing fire-bombs and firing shotguns (shown in videos taken by traffic cameras and a police helicopter, although MB spokesman claimed the police fired tear gas first inside the mosque followed by bullets ), believing that Egypt first freely elected Islamist president Mohammed Morsi, ousted July 5, was held behind the soldiers’ line. The pandemonium left 53 dead, including two policemen and two soldiers and over 200 injured.
The other Egypt was living the nightmare Egyptians only saw on television screens foreign correspondents reports. Several terrorist attacks claimed the lives of unarmed border-guard, traffic police and civil servants in Northern Sinai. As the first Egypt tweeted names and faces of new ministers on July 14, terrorists fired a rocket propelled grenade at a shift workers transport bus in el-Arish killing four and seriously injuring 14.
Since the Israeli Egyptian 1979 peace treaty limits the number of troops each side can deploy near the border, Egyptian troops in Sinai became overstretched. Beside shutting-down smuggling tunnels between Rafah and Gaza ( border-guard keep catching Hamas fighters red handed), and chasing suspected terrorist , the army had to guard various MB run centres as angry relatives of the bus attack victims vowed revenge. A couple of days earlier, Mohammed al-Beltagi, an MB leader, told al-Jazeera ” troubles in Sinai could be halted within an hour of reinstating Morsi. ” Not a vote winner with relatives of terror victims.
Instead of acknowledging their mistakes in office, which alienated the people ( Morsi was accused of “akhwanat”, or Brotherhoodisation of the country by appointing Soviet style MB commissar in every level of Egyptian bureaucracy affecting lives of millions who, for 60 years, grew dependent on state run economy and services), the Muslim Brothers arrogantly labelled the anti Morsi majority of being paid by Fulool ( ruminants of Mubark regime), sending defiant messages and ordering their youth organisation to disrupt traffic in Cairo and major cities. This increased the number of demonstrators rejecting MB ideology and politics beyond Egypt’s borders.
What started as a pebble, snowballed down the Egyptian hillside, began to flatten the growing crops of political Islam in the valleys of North Africa. Only three months earlier, previously unknown young liberal and Egyptian nationalist activists launched Tamarud (rebellion) emulating the 1919 revolution by collecting signatures on an anti Islamist regime petition. By June 27 Tamarud petition calling upon Morsi to resign and hold fresh presidential elections citing his last November power-grab by unlawful amendments to the constitution which in turn, was legally contested (MB sent thugs putting the Supreme Constitutional Court under siege preventing the judges from ruling on Morsi changes until ), collected 23 million signatories three times the votes which put him in office. The salvation front SF (of Dr el-Baradi, and leaders of all secular and nationalists parties, and Former Arab League secretary general Dr Amr Mousa) joined Tamarud calling nation-wide mass rallies on 30 June demanding Morsi’s resignation. But the Genie was out of the bottle with the momentum no longer in the hands Tamarud/ SF politicians when millions flooded the streets on Friday 28 June not just in the cities, but in upper Egypt countryside – who didn’t join 2011 uprising – under a single word demand ” Irhal” ( go for good) first chanted against Mubark 30 months earlier. As night fell on June 30 with millions on streets, estimated at 15:1 against Morsi, the army gave all politicians, including Morsi, 48 hours to “ engage in a dialogue to form a national unity government,” or the military would come up with a road-map out of the crisis. All, including ultra orthodox Islamist salalfis and leaders of both Christian (Coptic) Church and Muslim (Azhar) Church joined the road-map talks. The Muslim Brothers stayed away while Morsi made a defiant speech attacking protesters ( evidently majority of Egyptians) as “ illegitimate counter revolution elements” . When army chief Gen Abdulfatah el-Sisi, appeal to Morsi (which was the third in as many days) to form an inclusive administration fell on deaf ears, the army hosted an impressive panel representing all political trends and religious leaders – less MB- to present the road map declaring Morsi “irrelevant.”
On 17 July, Prime Minster Beblawi , backed by the army, ignored Islamists salafists objections and sworn his inclusive cabinet reflecting majority of Egyptians rejection of political Islam.
” The egyptian new political establishment and the army made a strategic decision to go with a majority of 80 per cent of Egyptians who reject Ismalisations of the country and political Islam,” observed Dr Mamoun Fandy, a political scientist at Georgetown University.
Muslim Brothers support took a nose-dive to “a single figure,” according to Dr james Zogby, a pollster from the Arab American Research Institute AARI, down from 22 percent six months ago and 39 per cent at the time of electing Morsi in June 2012 . The Islamist vote peaked at 54 per cent in November 2011 letting MB and salafists gain two thirds of the seats in the People Assembly (Egyptain parliament ). “But this circumstances are unlikely to be repeated in our life time,” Dr Zogby said. Social media, like Face-book, is a useful tool to gauge the mood of Egypt public opinion formers. April 6 Movement, a 2009 forerunner of 2011 Tahrir Square revolution was organised on Facebook and so was 2011 and the June 30 revolutions. Social media activist are known to seasoned reporters with years of experience on the ground, and were sceptical of despotic regimes’ claim that their fall would let Islamists takeover. In normal circumstances it is unlikely that Islamists could win an outright ruling majority in a free parliamentary elections. British intelligence reports between 1998- 2005 put Muslim Brothers core voters in Egypt between 12 – 14 per cent ( maximum 18 per cent in the countryside).
In November 2011 election, the first free since 1952 coup, the MB vote was trebled by three new blocs. A bit over 10 per cent of voters were sympathisers charmed by well financed MB propaganda machine presenting a romantic picture of their suffering in regime prisons . Another 10 t0 12 per cent voters who compared Mubarak’s officials corruption to MBs quick welfare service after disasters. A similar percentage from 2011 Tahrir square believed the secular candidate former Prime minister Ahmed Shafiq was Mubarak man so they held their nose and voted Morsi who won by a margin of 680,000 votes ( 50.9 million registered voters.)
The three blocs additional changed their mind (losing MBs 70 per cent ) after a year of Morsi’s Islamisation of Egypt (his appointing of a member of the group who massacred 58 tourists and five Egyptians in 1997, as governor of Luxor where 90 % of business live on tourism was a case in point).
Throughout July , and despite sympathetic media, coverage especially Anglo-saxon giving them unchallenged podium, MB continued to loose voters on daily bases, thanks to terror attacks in Sinai. Egyptian newspapers published the Muslim Brothers Global Organisation secrete plans to destabilise Egypt as discussed in secret meetings in Turkey. Regardless of the pinhead dance argument whether it was a coup or the army responded to the people revolution, MB setback in Egypt caused regional ripples sending the gurus and prophets of political Islam into a panic fight for their survival in places where they gained power after the 2011 apple-cart upset like Tunisia, or where anarchy is propelling them towards power like Libya and Syria, or they previously appeared secure like Sudan and Gaza.
in June, the MB suffered a blow in the United Arab Emirate after the arrest and trial of their sleeper cells. Within days of June 30 revolutionaries reclaiming Egypty, tamarud Tunis emerged in Tunisia where the first wave of uprising blew on North Africa, brandishing over a million and half signature on a petition to overthrow al-Nahadt, an Islamist movement offshoot of, and inspired by, MB led by Rachid al-Gahnnoushi who is a member of the MB Global organistion and chaired one of Turkey’s secrete meetings. upon his return to Tunis, Mr Ghannoushi made a strong pro Islamic constitution-rule threatening opponents with ” drowning in seas of blood” if they dare to go down Egyptian Tamarud rout. Days later, a leading Tunisia tamrud secular organiser , Mohamed Brahimi, was gunned down in front of his children.
The MBGO leaked ‘ fighting back strategy,’ include diplomatic efforts, finance, mass mobilisation and actual fighting (terrorism in the law), like terrorist attacks in Sinai with help from Hamas in Gaza (Istanbul meeting identified as the most harmed party in the International Islamist network by June 30 revolution). The strategy’s main aim is to urge America to put pressure on Egyptian Army, and to enlist support from Turkey and Qatar emphasising that Morsi was the legitimate president and disposing him was an attack on democratic legitimacy, this will be highlighted by al-jazeera, different Islamists TV networks, left-wing western media (who are against army intervention by default) Turkey and Qatar sponsored media.. Part of the plan was creating conditions for bloody battles, with aim of creating a confrontation between the army and the people ( i.e. MB supporters) which could generate crisis encouraging a US led military intervention to reinstate Morsi.
On Egypt streets, a battle royal is fought by the majority of Egyptians (with army backing) to reclaim their destiny after toppling what they denounced ” a fascist theocracy in the making” on one side, and a numerically lesser but quite effective MBs violent supporters. The latter get sympathetic coverage in Western media, led by the BBC who dislike military coups while obsessed with the Turkish Islamic government model (also the vision of the American administration and the Foreign Office ) seeing MBs as ” moderates” making the essential middle phase between 60 years of military backed autocracy and the Turkish model of Islam co-existing with democracy.
The MBs, intelligence sources say, have mobilised the maximum numbers they could muster, so support would eventually dwindle.
In an unprecedented departure from its normal schedule since its launch . Qatari owned al-Jazeera English devoted several hours to covering Egypt during US Under Secretary of state William Burns visit to Cairo. The Camera’s focused close up shots ( total shots would expose the insignificant number of protesters who were dozens only ) stone throwing MBs youths burning cars by Raamsis Square flyover, a main traffic artery in capital while waving al-Qaeda black flags. Then al-Jazeera would cut to total shots of of tens of thousands of Morsi Supporters packing Rabbah mosque square, in which MBs confined their protest once again after the US diplomat left Egypt..
Egyptian police say Tanzeem Sirri ( Secrete Apparatus, a violent underground organisation established by Muslim Brothers during their campaign of terror in late 1930s on lines similar to the IRA for assassinations, bombing, killing Egypt’s prime minister for declaring war on Hitler) , The TS and MB youth cause massive travel and traffic disruption to three main roads connecting central and west Cairo to Airport and the main highway from Suez and Ismailya, while 16 soldiers and border guard killed and over 60 injured in terrorist attacks on border posts, el-Arish Airport and other state run services in Northern Sinai.
MB “ fighting back” strategy causing headache to ordinary Egyptians ( and losing their votes), but far from the daft and often idiotic prediction by BBC and other left wing media of an Algerian or Syrian style civil war for which the conditions are non-existent by Egypt demographic realities. There is no geographic sectarian segregation or balkanisation in a nation largely made of one ethnic race ( nilotic ) who lived within the same borders for several millennia. Christians and Muslims share the same multiple dwellings in urban and coastal areas and same farms by economic necessity due to complex rules of alternate irrigation. The two per cent ethnically Arab population living in Sinai and eastern desert have a different Bedouin way of life making them seldom notice the colours nailed to Cairo mast. Mb call for intefada ( non Egyptian word first used by Palestinians for their uprising against Israeli occupation ) could usher sporadic terrorist attacks by sleeper cells made of few hundred of Hamas activists who, Egypt security sources claim, were given Egyptian ID cards by Morsi regime.
On 25 July, The office of Public Prosecutor PPO obtained a judicial court warrant for a 15 day detention of Mr Morsi, pending charged with for plotting with Hamas to murder (prison guard policemen) by attacking nation valley prison to assist his, and other MB members, escape on january 30, 2011 and for passing army security plans to Hamas. The PPO office had already issued that summon in October last year, but Morsi ignored.
The worst, says an Interior Minister source, is a repeat of the 1990s Muslim Brothers affiliated / splinter groups isolated terror attacks against Tourist sites. The 1990s campaign was successfully contained by Mubarak police, who lost a few dozen killed and more redundant due to injuries, and hundreds of millions losses to tourism industry. “ this time we are better prepared,” the IM Source said.
When UK Minister of State for Africa and Middle East, Alistair Burt MP talked to MB leaders in cairo urging ending rabba Square encampment and joining Dr Beblawi’s inclusive government, they rejected his mediation or engaging in dialogue with other Egyptian secular politicians who clearly reprint majority of people. Their rejection of Chief Justice Mansour to engage in reconciliatory dialogue, and Dr Beblawi’s repeated offers – After Mr Burt’s departure, of cabinet posts can only be understood as temporary tactics outlined in their Turkey meeting fighting back strategy to increase tension hoping for American intervention to bend the will of the army.
As Obama administration saw that the wind was blowing into the Egyptian people sails not the Brothers, hence the MB unwise calculation , says a Cairo senior western diplomat, would further alienate Egyptian voters and reduce MBs ability to get enough seats to make a significant impact in the next parliament. The MB self isolation might please secularist, nationalists, women groups, minorities and Christian activists; but in reality it might drive them underground resorting to their old terror tactics of 1930s and 1940s which calumniated in the Muslim Brothers horrific burning of central Cairo in January 1952. A landmark, many historian believe, that became the launch-pad for Colonel Gamal Abd-el-Nasser and General Mohammed Naguib coup six months later, which placed Egypt circle into the still evident embrace of the military. Majority of Egyptian already seem. for now, enjoying this embrace . When Gen al-Sisi, in his capacity as deputy Prime Minsiter for security appealed to people to ” give mandate to state institutions to fight terrorism,” millions of ordinary Egyptians , on July 26 joined the usual anti-Islamisation secular activists in ” say No To Terrorism” day outnumbering those who overthrew Morsi a month earlier. Although MBs stated counter demonstrations, they were dwarfed by masses carrying millions of posters of Gen al-Sisi whose popularity outstripped that of Colonel Nasser in his post Suez War heydays . A woman who delivered the first Egyptian baby boy known to born within a rally july 26 night, in Ithadyia east of Cairo named her boy al-Sisi.