Friday, July 12, 2013

The Perils of a ‘People’s Coup’

    Friday, July 12, 2013   No comments

By KHALED M. ABOU EL FADL

THE Egyptian Army claims that it had no choice but to overthrow the country’s first legitimately elected president, Mohamed Morsi, and that last week’s coup reflected the will of the Egyptian people. It’s true that most Egyptians hated Mr. Morsi’s inept government and rejoiced at his downfall.

But Mr. Morsi’s fall does not bode well for the future of Egypt and democracy in the region. The army is following in the footsteps of Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, Hafez al-Assad of Syria, Saddam Hussein of Iraq, and Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran, who shared a common trait. They all pointed to their supporters in the streets as the source of their legitimacy and perpetuated autocratic rule in the name of the people’s will. By stepping in to remove an unpopular president, the Egyptian Army reaffirmed a despotic tradition in the Middle East: Army officers decide what the country needs, and they always know best.

Traditionally, there have been two institutions in Egypt that have considered themselves above accountability: the military and the judiciary. Both have refused to answer to any civilian power.

Both are firmly rooted in the regime of the deposed president Hosni Mubarak; they are staunchly secular, authoritarian and corrupt. The army has assured the United States and the world that it won’t intervene in politics again after this coup. It has called upon all Egyptians to come together, to forget their differences, and not to seek vengeance.


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