Search:
From the Archive
Buying Georgette and Mubarak’s Laughable “Democracy”
To define its missions: Mission 3: Reform Muslims
We Say the Following about the Debate about Quranists between the Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi and the Head-Sheikh of Al-Azhar
The Conclusion of Our Book Titled (Torment and Torture within a Quranist Vision)
SECTUAL DIVISION IS NOT SALVATION BUT DAMNATION
To whom who says the Qur’an is not complete
The Religion of Abraham: Our Father
Repeating the same mistakes
We Are about to Despair!
Egypt between Ailment and Deathbed
The Al-Aqsa Rock in Jerusalem Is the Golden Pagan Idol for the Muhammadans
Egypt's Facebook showdown
Purify Prayers - Remove (Ameen)
Female soldiers break their silenceþ
Laugher-Inducing Stories about the Vile Niqab
À propos de notre émission YouTube «Quranic Moments»: Un appel addressé à nos chers coranistes
Islam is against Muslim Wahaby terrorists
Fatwas: Part Seventeen
Undeniably, the Sufi Religion Is the Offshoot of the Shiite Religion
Muslim’s Identity belongs to his religious freedom, not his country or nation
The Challenges to Transition to Democracy in Egypt By Professor Dr. Abdelrazak Ali

The Challenges to Transition to Democracy in Egypt

                     By Professor Dr. Abdelrazak Ali

 

Abstract. The expectations that Egyptian democratization would blast off following the January 2011 revolution, appeared to be more a product of wishful thinking than of objective analysis.The path to the modern democratic state in Egypt is crowded with obstacles;

The counter-revolutionary forces, and their corresponding impact on the path of democratization in post-Mubarak Egypt. It argues that the popular calls for change that followed the Egyptian revolution have fallen repeatedly and quickly into the hands of a structural alliance of reactionary and constancy-oriented actors operating at the internal and external levels. These included the Egyptian Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), the Muslim Brotherhood, and the foreign states that may be affected by the democratic orientation of the newly borne revolution.Fighting over Egypt’s identity and future, Islamists and secular-nationalists have been fighting over Egypt’s identity and future. Their differences could sometimes seem irreconcilable.The Democratic Deterioration and the weak Democratic Culture and insitutions during Mubarak’s era had been reflected on the new democratic path.The political mentality of Muslims Brotherhood, was one of the obstacles in front of the democratic transition. the Deep State where only, the leadership of the old regime was displaced; the rest of the regime has stayed in their positions with all responsibilities.The role of oppositiont, wo types of opposition have been found. The first group opposition  has come from the Islamic parties that some of them split from MB, and the others are not from the same Islamic school of thought. The second group opposition includes the national secular and leftist parties, who are the majority of the opposition parties

The Egyptian January 2011 revolution initially created hopes that a genuine process of Egyptian democratization would blast off and that through such popular legitimacy, Egypt would restore its traditional leadership role in the Arab regional system. However, these expectations appeared to be more a product of wishful thinking than of objective analysis. The revolutionaries who initiated the mass uprising did not assume the leading positions in dismantling the old authoritarian regime and building a new democratic one. The high ambition of the revolutionaries who suffered a lot to get rid of the autocratic regime is not easy to be achieved. Ironically, elements of old regime in alliance with antirevolutionary forces assumed these tasks, while the revolutionaries were marginalized and even faced a campaign of character assasination at the hands of the ruler elites. The path to the modern democratic state in Egypt is crowded with obstacles. Egypt is one of the third world states that never has an elected civil president, or government. People of Egypt have never enjoyed their freedom before the uprising. Their life for many years was a compound of fear, poverty, struggle, and wars. But they managed to keep the hope, moderation, tolerance, joy and patience. Their life has been a special blend that can be seen in Egypt only.Obstacles in the Road of Democracy can be summarized as follows;

1- The counter-revolutionary forces 

The special nature of the Egyptian people resulted in a civil uprising that could not get rid of all bad components of the former regime. The people and the leaders of the uprising and parties were very keen to have a peaceful uprising. The revolutionary parties did not use any violence or military means. This was considered as a triumph without heavy bloodshed, destruction or military confrontations, and it led to quick desired results. However, it was not able to uproot all the corrupted and unfriendly institutions of the previous regime.

Few months after the uprising grave difficulties started to appear in the democratic track. Many parties from inside and outside Egypt started to put sticks in the wheels of the transition. They have tried to hamper the change and development in every aspect of life. They want to send messages to the Egyptians and the people in the Arab world that the ‘Arab spring’ is not a real change and has a great risk on the future of their countries

the dynamics of counter-revolution in Egypt following the January 2011 revolution and their corresponding impact on the path of democratization in post-Mubarak Egypt. The the popular calls for change that followed the Egyptian revolution have fallen repeatedly and quickly into the hands of a structural alliance of reactionary and constancy-oriented actors operating at the internal and external levels. These included the Egyptian Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), the Muslim Brotherhood, and the foreign states that may be affected by the democratic  orientation of the newly borne revolution, with its  global outcome. Regionally, many regimes in Arab countries have been very afraid of the democratic change in the region because they are totalitarians, and have never practiced democracy. They know that people freedom means the end of their authorities. These regimes have never been chosen by their people. All of them are dictators, and depend on the security forces and the external support, especially from USA, in their rule. They do not have any kind of legitimacy.

After the spread of the ‘Arab spring’ in many countries:all of which have emerged as agents of continuity and counter-revolution in post-Mubarak Egypt, in turn complicating any proposed genuine democratic transition.

2- Fighting over Egypt’s identity and future

Islamists and secular-nationalists have been fighting over Egypt’s identity and future. Their differences could sometimes seem irreconcilable. It is not clear how a vision of Egypt as a small part of a large Islamic community can coexist with a vision of Egypt as one of the oldest civilizations and nation-states in the world. Similarly, it is not clear how Islamists’ interpretation of Shariah can be made consistent with an open and democratic society. The escalation of this political struggle and the increasing violence was caused by a mismanagement of the transition.

Ironically, you could feel despairing and hopeless through my discussions about Freedom and  Democracy with most Cadres of parties, university students and collegues, social groups from various trends and orientations, my patients and even NGOs Personnels  as well as Political Activists. 

Both the military leadership that took power after the fall of Mubarak and the Muslim Brotherhood(MB) that ruled the country from mid-2012 to mid-2013 must bear part of the blame. The military’s decision to hold elections before agreement on a constitution and the “rules of the game” ensured a crushing Brotherhood victory at the polls and the exclusion of other political and social groups. And, the Brotherhood’s failure to compromise with secular forces and reach consensus on important issues of national identity, together with their inability to tackle economic problems, led to the popular uprising against them in June 2013.

3- The Democratic Deterioration and the weak Democratic Culture

 During Mubarak’s era (1981-2011), the Egyptians were deprived of their basic political rights. All these rights were violated under the coverage of the corrupted laws enacted by the ruling party (NDP) to serve their interests and to rule the country alone. The emergency law had been imposed all the time, accompanied with an absence of pluralism, political freedom and freedom of expression and protest. The opposition leaders who tried to protest against this unjust situation were sent to prison. Most of them and MB leaders, in particular, had been arrested for many times including the current president, Mursi. The presidential elections did not happen, only, in advance known results, referendums to renew the mandate for the president was hold many times. The parliamentary elections had been faked every time (Tadros, 2012). This situation led to the lack of political experience, especially among the opposition. They did not have the chance to practice politics. They did not have the chance to found parties and play a real role in the official political life. They did not have the opportunity to talk freely to the media. These parties were not able to build and produce political leaders equipped with politica .Establishing a stable democracy in a country with weak institutions and no democratic culture will take years or even decades. With the benefit of hindsight, most observers were too optimistic in 2011 when they predicted that the “Arab Spring”would quickly lead to democracy. The millions of Egyptians who swarmed into Tahrir Square in January 2011 demanding that Mubarak step down, and then again in June 2013 asking for the overthrow of President Mohammed Morsi, have learned how to use “people power". A wall of fear has been broken, and it would be difficult for another autocratic regime to succeed in ruling Egypt for an extended period of time. The political struggle taking place in Egypt today has roots that go back to the late 19th century. The international community needs to take a patient and long-term view of developments in Egypt. Western interests and values would probably be best served by maintaining its engagement with Egypt and its economic assistance.Western aid is small relative to the size of the Egyptian economy and relative to the massive financial flows

4-The political mentality of Muslims Brotherhood.

It was one of the obstacles in front of the democratic transition. The formation of this mentality was first influenced by abnormal circumstances of oppression, torture, exclusion, and enforced exile under tyranny regimes paving the way to build quite inflexible political mindset. These factors, in addition to the intensive ideological education that focus on the extraordinary role of MB as an Islamic movement in rebuilding the Egyptian people and society according to the Islamic principles, have shaped the MB political mentality. This political mentality depends only on its party cadres, do not trust the others, suspect in every thing and strongly believe in conspiracy.

MB and its Freedom and Justice Party(FJP) believed that ruling Egypt was a historical opportunity that should not be lost. They should do their best to achieve their goals and carry out their program. This is their right that democracy secures since they are the majority. This perspective made MB and FJP accelerate to achieve their program. The enthusiasm to invest the historical moment might made them not wisely considered the importance of the collective working and the cooperation with other parties, particularly in this time. In a short time after the uprising MB and FJP managed to have a large number of opponents in Egypt, even from those who was their revolutionary partners. They lost a large number of friends. Both of their policy and, the constant planning against them by their opponents led to various troubles to Egypt and finally to their falling down in June 30, 2013. A perfect storm of Brotherhood failures precipitated its demise and the emergence of today’s political landscape in Egypt. The Brotherhood’s inability to placate the institutions of the "old state" or win over the hearts of the people made its leadership politically untenable. The movement’s ideological hollowness and opportunism undermined its claims to a legitimate “Islamic democratic project,” while the group’s closed, opaque sect-type structure rendered it inaccessible to possible allies and led to distrust among state actors, political movements, and the general population. As a result, the Brotherhood failed to transform its electoral domination into sustainable political hegemony. The Brotherhood’s ultimate shift from the failed policy of containment of the old state to the even more failed policy of confrontation with it paved the way for its ouster in July 2013

5- The Role of the Deep State

 The fact that the 25 January Uprising was civil has helped the remnants of the old regime to maintain their positions. The uprising 25 January  has not totally dismantled the structure of the old regime because the Egypt’s revolutionaries were eager to preserve the state institutions as a national property. Only, the leadership of the old regime was displaced; the rest of the regime has stayed in their positions with all responsibilities. The Egyptian politicians and experts have called the former regime institutions and officials as the ‘Deep State’.

 Decades of governance helped the NDP cadres and members to penetrate in all the institutions and positions of the state. Most of the senior officers in the ministries, presidential institutions, the judiciary, and the security agencies were members in the dissolved NDP. The uprising did not change their loyalty and their political ideology. They may have loyalty to Egypt, but surely they will not be loyal to MB and its program. They will not be part of president Mursi renaissance program and they will not help MB and FJP to take control of Egypt. MB has been an opponent for the Deep State. It used to work against them everywhere and every time (Tadros, 2012).

 The security services, which are the most important part of the Deep State, especially the internal security services had never been with any oppositional group, in particular MB members. I think that since 1940s, with the past history  of MB violence and their underground work. Accordingly, the security services have treated MB as an enemy and as agents for foreign powers. They have been educated that MB and its members are the main threat for the country, the state and the national security.

The other main aspect of the Deep State is the corruption. The corruption was very common in Mubarak’s Egypt.The leaders and many of the officers were corrupted. Any step toward the reform and accountability would be a real threat to their interests in different official positions. They might be sent to prisons due to their behaviors during Mubarak’s era. Hence, they have been doing their best to deactivate the transition in Egypt (Phillips, 2009).

 6-The Role of Opposition

 Since the FJP became the ruling party in Egypt, two types of opposition have been found. The first group opposition  has come from the Islamic parties that some of them split from MB, and the others are not from the same Islamic school of thought. The second group opposition includes the national secular and leftist parties, who are the majority of the opposition parties. They have founded a wide coalition called Jabhat al-Inqadh al-Watani (National Salvation Front)  "NSF". (Masetti et al., 2013). The Islamic opposition is separated into two divisions. The first division,  includes the Islamic parties: the Salafists (Al-Nur Party) and the Jihadists (al-Bina’ wa al-Tanmiyah) who have different intellectual reference from the MB. Historically they do not agree with the MB method of working for Islam. They have their own scholars and interpretative method.They do not believe that MB is the perfect representative for Islam. Sometimes they had clashed with MB (Tammam,2012). The different Islamic visions that the Salafists and the Jihadists have did not prevent them from cooperating with FJP and president Mursi. They have shown a lot of flexibility and realism. They have supported FJP and Mursi against the secular opposition because the common issues between them and FJP are more than the others. These parties and MB have the same ultimate goal, the reestablishment of the Islamic Caliphate. Therefore, they consider all the differences with MB are marginal. Despite this, in some issues they have opposed FJP policies such as the date of implementation of the Islamic law and the international relations and the relation with Israel and Iran in particular.The second division of Islamic opposition parties are those who split from MB, such as al-Tayar al-Masri and Misr alQawiyah.The leaders and cadres of these parties were from MB cadres. They have the same internal education, the same intellectual school and the same final goals. They disagreed with MB on organizational and political issues, such as the way of leadership, the political priorities after the uprising and in some cases about personal positions or behaviors. The same background and the same ultimate goal for FJP and these parties have not played positive role in their relations. The relationship between them has been very tough and uncharitable. MB and FJP look to these parties as defected parties not as new political parties that can cooperate with them. The lack of political tolerance has appeared clearly in this issue. 

The other major part of the opposition is the coalition of national secular and leftist parties (NSF) that consists of more  than  35  groups;  the  main  parties  are:  the  Egyptian  Social  Democratic  party,  the  Constitution  party  and  the  Egyptian Popular Current. The parties in this coalition have different political backgrounds and different visions and programs for the future. However, their stance from FJP as a ruling party has united them. They have a common goal; that is to prevent FJP from achieving its goals to establish an Islamic state in Egypt. They want to build up a secular state. They are afraid of the FJP program that, from their perspective, may lead to a religious state. Objective analysis for the historical political and intellectual background of the NSF reveals that their opposition to FJP program and ruling is based on combined factors: ideology, politics, fears, and desires (Masetti et al., 2013).

The secular opposition claim that they have modern, liberal and respectful program that deserve to rule Egypt. At the same time they claim that the Islamic program that FJP adopted, is reactionary and non-democratic, and depends on rhetoric claims. In reality. this program of MB and/or FJP (the political arm of Muslims Brotherhood)  actually failed in many Islamic countries such as Sudan and Afghanistan and was the primary cause of bloody violence , state instability, and state deterioration and failure. . Some of them do not accept and cannot  imagine  that  MB  figure  is  the  ruler  of  Egypt.  

 


The views and opinions of authors whose articles and comments are posted on this site do not necessarily reflect the views of IQC.