Though this article by Steven Simpson is a couple of weeks old, it’s still quite salient. In addition to analyzing the potential for civil war in Egypt, Simpson makes an astute observation about what the Muslim Brotherhood might learn from Mursi’s full-speed-ahead-with-Sharia tack.
In the irony of ironies, the first democratically elected president of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi, was overthrown on July 3 by the Egyptian military, ostensibly to save Egypt’s fledgling “democracy.” Doubtlessly, Morsi’s organization, the Muslim Brotherhood (al-Ikhwan al-Muslimin), was in the process of dismantling any vestiges of democracy and installing an Islamic dictatorship. Yet the intervention of Egypt’s military has produced a situation in which the Ikhwan claim to be the victims of a coup. Simultaneously, the disparate — and desperate — secular opposition have aligned themselves with the very military that only two years ago they helped bring down. What follows if the Egyptian military does not give up power — or even bans the Islamists in a future election — may be a bloody civil war that will make the Algerian civil war of the 1990s look tame by comparison.
It is a painful fact for victims of a new pathogenesis that might rightly be diagnosed as “Arab Spring Fever” to recognize and acknowledge that the Brotherhood and their even more radical allies, the Salafis, won over 70% of the vote in the parliamentary elections of 2012. As for the presidential election, Morsi won by a narrow 51%. Regardless, a majority of Egyptian Muslims freely and democratically voted for a would-be sharia state, and polls show that Egypt’s Muslims want more Islam in their lives. It is simply pure Western fantasy and mythology to think that any anger at Morsi means that Egyptian Muslims are somehow disillusioned with an Islamist state. Rather, the fault may very well deal with the character of Morsi and Egypt’s poor economy inherited from the despotism and nepotism of the previous regimes, rather than Islamism and the Brotherhood per se.
Mohamed Morsi was nothing more than a last-minute substitute by the Brotherhood when their original candidate, Khairat el-Shater, was banned by Egypt’s Electoral Commission from running for the presidency due to his past criminal conviction. No doubt, the Ikhwan have learned a lesson in regard to Morsi’s non-charismatic and “fast-forward Islamist” ways. And like the slow but irrevocable Turkish tilt toward an Islamist state under Recep Tayipp Erdoğan, the Brotherhood will in all probability follow the same example in the next electoral go-around with whoever will be their candidate. And that is to “go slow, but go steady” in establishing an Islamic state. For Egypt, unlike non-Arab Turkey, the goal will be much more quickly accomplished, as Egypt never went through a Kemalist-like revolution as Turkey did in the early 20th century. Egypt, like the rest of the Arab world, has never known anything comparable to a Western-style democracy.
If you haven’t read this piece yet, please do.