Can military takeover of civilian government ever be a positive thing?
What will develop out of the current situation in Egypt?
Egypt crisis: Army's new populist tactics
(By Said Shehata, BBC News, July 5, 2013)
The Egyptian army's move to oust President Mohammed Morsi has sharply divided opinion.
Mr Morsi and his supporters considered it a military coup against a legitimately elected president, while the other camp, led by Tamarod (Rebel) - the movement which brought millions onto the streets of Egypt in recent days - and other anti-Morsi people, believe it was a reflection of the people's choice.
The military intervention this time is different from what happened after the fall of Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.
At that time the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf) was holding power as the legislative and executive authority. Scaf issued constitutional declarations and made mistakes in the eyes of opposition, especially with the ordering of virginity tests on female detainees in military prisons.
It seems that the army learnt its lesson and orchestrated a smart move this time by getting all factions of Egyptian society on board, except the Muslim Brotherhood and the ex-militant Gamaa al-Islamiya group, which is reported to have refused the army's invitation.
This time the military did not behave as the sole power but worked in co-operation with others. It deployed tanks and troops to avoid violent reactions from Mr Morsi's supporters and it took off air some Islamist TV channels, such as the Muslim Brotherhood's Misr 25 and the Salafist al-Hafez, to avoid possible calls for violence.
The army is supervising the "roadmap" that was drawn up by various institutions and groups, such as al-Azhar (Sunni Islam's highest seat of learning), the Coptic Church, the Salafist al-Nour party, opposition leader Mohammed ElBaradei, and representatives from Tamarod.
The army also made contact with several countries, including the United States, the EU and some Arab countries, to reassure them that civilian, not military, rule would lead Egypt through the transitional period.
In addition, the army got backing in two key areas in its decision to get rid Mr Morsi, namely the millions of Egyptians in the streets and the police. Some police officers took part in the anti-Morsi protests and this improved their image amongst Egyptians.
It is a coup, according to the strict definition of the term. However, it is not in the sense of the army taking over the power.
It is different from the Free Officers coup in 1952 in Egypt - which led to Egypt becoming a republic - because here the army is only supervising the roadmap and the transition, but the main actors are the interim president and the new government, until presidential and parliamentarian elections are held.
The army has boosted its image in the eyes of Egyptians who demonstrated against Mr Morsi and if it had not ousted Morsi after the 48-hour deadline it gave him to resolve the protests, it could have been damaged as an institution.
Mr Morsi escalated the fight with the army and millions of Egyptians without having the support of anyone except his own power base. He did not win the support of the army or the police, which put his position at stake.
The international reaction to this military intervention was cautious. President Barack Obama said he was "deeply concerned".
"I now call on the Egyptian military to move quickly and responsibly to return full authority back to a democratically elected civilian government as soon as possible through an inclusive and transparent process, and to avoid any arbitrary arrests of President Morsi and his supporters," he said.
UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said: "We don't support military interventions in democratic systems... This will now move on very quickly."
The West does not want to be seen as supporting a coup, but they will deal with whoever in power because they have interests in Egypt.
In addition, the civilian interim president and a new government will do the job of leading the country in the transitional period, not the military.
The army is the strongest and most stable institution in Egypt. It is seen as the guardian of stability and peace since 1952.
A fragile democracy and weak state apparatus have been the main reason for the army to play this role.
Once democracy is strengthened and strong state apparatus found, the army might play a less role in the future.
As Cairo braces for protests, government deadlocked over prime minister
(By Edmund Sanders, Los Angeles Times, July 7, 2013)
CAIRO -- Egypt’s new military-led interim government struggled Sunday to settle a dispute within its fragile coalition over who should lead the next cabinet.
But as Cairo braced for what are expected to be the largest demonstrations in days, no progress was apparent in resolving the political standoff.
Liberal youth activists, led by the Rebel movement that helped organize mass protests to oust Islamist President Mohamed Morsi last week, are pushing for secular opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei.
Egypt’s new interim President Aldi Mansour seemed set to appoint ElBaradei on Saturday and a swearing-in was said to be imminent.
But late Saturday night the government abruptly backtracked after the ultra-religious Nour Party threatened to pull out of the political transition process if ElBaradei got the post.
On Sunday, Rebel co-founder Mahmoud Badr publicly called upon Nour leaders to drop their opposition, vowing to ensure that their views would not be overshadowed.
A spokesman for Mansour said negotiations were ongoing. A decision was expected later Sunday.
The unlikely coalition of divergent opposition parties came together last week to support the military’s coup to remove the Muslim Brotherhood’s Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president.
The dispute comes as Cairo is preparing for dueling demonstrations Sunday afternoon by pro- and anti-Morsi protesters.
Both sides were hoping to draw out as many of their supporters as possible in order to send a message to army generals.
The Muslim Brotherhood issued calls from the mosques around Cairo for members to take to the streets and bring the capital to a standstill.
Anti-Morsi groups, based in Tahrir Square, issued pleas on social media urging supporters to turn out in large numbers as they did last week.
The military is expected to create a buffer zone between the two camps to avoid a repeat of the clashes that killed three dozen people on Friday.
As for U.S. ability to influence the events in Egypt, he said, “I don't think the aid provides great leverage; the government of Egypt knows how reluctant the United States is to cut it. Recall that 100 percent of the military aid goes to U.S. companies, so there's a tremendous congressional incentive inside the states to keep the money flowing -- to Cairo and then back here.”
An example of the importance of American military aid is the U.S.-Egyptian coproduction of the Abrams tank. According to a Congressional Research Service report, “Egypt plans to acquire a total of 1,200 tanks. Under the terms of the program, a percentage of the tank’s components are manufactured in Egypt at a facility on the outskirts of Cairo and the remaining parts are produced in the United States and then shipped to Egypt for final assembly.” General Dynamics is the prime contractor for the program.Source
There are probably all kinds of reasons to support Egypt. Surely, paying them to buy our stuff isn't one of them.
Have you been missing for awhile, JPB?
KARL: But I’m just asking a very specific question about — I think you answered it in there, but let me just be direct: $1.5 billion in aid to Egypt — is one of the things under active consideration cutting off that aid?
MR. CARNEY: I think it would not be in the best interests of the United States to immediately change our assistance programs to Egypt, we think — not just I, but we think that it would not be in the best interests of the United States to do that. We are reviewing our obligations under the law and we will be consulting with Congress about the way forward with regards to specifically the assistance package that we provide.
KARL: In other words, no immediate cut off of aid.
MR. CARNEY: We think that would not be in our best interests.
KARL: OK. And you said — and was said in the statement over the weekend — a desire to return to democratically elected government. That is A democratically elected government. The White House is not calling for the return of THE democratically elected government of President Morsi?
MR. CARNEY: We’re calling for a return to democratic governments — governance, democratically elected government. It is for the Egyptian people to decide who their leaders are. We have, the president has, expressed his deep concern about the actions of the Egyptian military in removing President Morsi from power. But we are mindful, as I said at the top, about the polarization in Egypt and the views of millions of Egyptians about the undemocratic governance of the Morsi government and their demands for a new government.
So — and again, I’m trying to be candid here about — you’ll get no argument from me if you go on the air and say that this is a highly complicated situation that requires, you know, very careful monitoring and engagement and that we do not — we want to take action that — and make decisions that helps Egypt move forward in this process and that helps Egypt reconcile and Egyptians reconcile as they move forward towards democratic governance in the future.
KARL: But as deeply concerned as you are about how Morsi was removed, you are not calling for him to be reinstated in any way.
MR. CARNEY: We are calling for a return to democratic governance and to a democratically elected government.Source
Interim Egyptian Gov’t Issues Election Plan after Deadly Shootings
(DemocracyNow.org, July 9, 2013)
Egypt’s interim leaders have announced a timetable for forming a new elected government amidst high tensions with supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi. The timetable calls for ratifying a new constitution within five months, followed by parliamentary elections in 2014 and a presidential vote after that. The interim government also voiced what it called "deep regret" for Monday’s shooting deaths of at least 51 Morsi supporters at the military site where he is believed to be detained. The Egyptian military has claimed it opened fire after coming under threat. The Muslim Brotherhood has rejected the interim government’s timetable and has called for national protests against the killings of its supporters.
Egypt’s military cracks down on Muslim Brotherhood, orders arrest of top leader
(By: Maggie Michael, The Associated Press, July 10 2013)
CAIRO—Egyptian authorities escalated their crackdown Wednesday on the Muslim Brotherhood by ordering the arrest of its spiritual leader, while the group remained steadfast in its defiance of the new military-backed administration and refused offers to join an interim government.
Even as the new prime minister began reaching out to form a Cabinet and restore a measure of stability, the military-backed leadership has come under fierce criticism from those who supported its toppling of President Mohammed Morsi last week. Several groups in the loose coalition participating in the political process have sharply criticized the transitional plan, saying that sidelines them in the transition.
After a week of violence and mass demonstrations, Egyptians were hoping that the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on Wednesday will significantly calm the turmoil in the streets. The sunrise-to-sunset fast cuts down on activity during the day, but the daily protests have been largely nocturnal affairs, and some observers expect the Islamist camp will likely use it to rally its base.
The prosecutor’s arrest warrant issued Wednesday for the Brotherhood’s supreme guide, Mohammed Badie, as well as nine other leading Islamists will almost certainly stoke anger among the group’s supporters and fellow Islamists. The men are suspected of instigating the violence on Monday outside of a Republican Guard building in Cairo that left at least 54 Morsi supporters dead, according to a statement issued by the prosecutor general’s office.
The killings further entrenched the battle lines between supporters and opponents of Morsi, and the ousted leader’s Brotherhood backers called for an uprising, accusing troops of gunning down protesters. The military blamed armed Islamists for provoking its forces.
Still, the warrants highlight the military’s zero-tolerance policy toward the Brotherhood and other Islamists, who continue to hold daily mass protests and sit-ins demanding reinstating Morsi and rejecting what they describe as a military coup. The military already has jailed five of Brotherhood leaders, including Badie’s powerful deputy Khairat el-Shaiter, and shut down their media outlets. Morsi himself remains in custody in an undisclosed location.
In the face of Islamist opposition, the military-backed interim president, Adly Mansour, issued a fast-track timetable on Monday for the transition. His declaration set out a 7-month timetable for elections but also a truncated, temporary constitution laying out the division of powers in the meantime.
The accelerated process was meant, in part, to send reassurances to the U.S. and other Western allies that the country is on a path toward democratically-based leadership.
But it has faced opposition from the very groups that led the four days of mass protests that prompted the military to step in last Wednesday.
The top liberal political grouping, the National Salvation Front, expressed reservations over the plan late Tuesday, saying it was not consulted — “in violation of previous promises” — and that the declaration “lacks significant clauses while others need change or removal.” It did not elaborate but said it had presented Mansour with changes it seeks.
The secular, revolutionary youth movement Tamarod that organized last week’s protests, also criticized the plan, in part because it gives too much power to Mansour, including the power to issue laws. A post-Morsi plan put forward by Tamarod called for a largely ceremonial interim president with most power in the hands of the prime minister.
At the heart of liberals’ objections is that they wanted to write a new constitution, not amend the one written under Morsi by an Islamist-dominated panel. That constitution contained several articles that drew fierce criticism from liberal quarters, and helped sparked street protests and violence in 2012. Other objections centred on superpowers of the interim president.
However, the only Islamist party that backed military’s ouster of Morsi after millions took to the streets on June 30 demanding him to leave, has been vetoing rewriting the constitution.
Meanwhile, new Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi, who was appointed by the interim president on Tuesday, is holding consultations on a Cabinet that will face the difficult task of guiding the deeply divided country through what promises to be a rocky transition period. In what is seen as an attempt at reconciliation, el-Beblawi has said he will offer the Brotherhood, which helped propel Morsi to the presidency, posts in his transitional government.
A Brotherhood spokesman said the group will not take part in an interim Cabinet, and that talk of national reconciliation under the current circumstances is “irrelevant.” He spoke on condition of anonymity because of concerns for his security.
The rejection laid bare the monumental task the interim leadership faces in trying stabilize the country and bridge the deep fissures splitting the country. The nascent government also will soon face demands that it tackle economic woes that mounted under Morsi, including fuel shortages, electricity cutoffs and inflation.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates provided a welcome boost for the new leadership on Tuesday. The two countries, both opponents of Morsi’s Brotherhood, celebrated his ouster by showering the cash-strapped Egyptian government with promises of $8 billion in grants, loans and badly needed gas and oil.
In doing so, they are effectively stepping in for Morsi’s Gulf patron, Qatar, a close ally of the Brotherhood that gave his government several billion in aid.
During Morsi’s year in office, he and his officials toured multiple countries seeking cash to prop up rapidly draining foreign currency reserves and plug mounting deficits — at times getting a cold shoulder.
The democratic response to public pressure is change at the ballot box.