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Middle East and Africa

A Gigantic Building Site without Leadership and without Money

The army has deposed President Morsi. Popular mobilisation asked for this and the armed forces did not pull any punches, launching at the same time a wave of arrests which aimed at 300 leaders of the Muslim Brothers, amongst whom the Supreme Guide, the two vice-guides, the former president of the parliament, the advisers of the President, etc. People near to the Brotherhood are also under arrest.

 

 

The fall of Morsi was the result of a mobilisation quantifiable in tens of millions of people which went beyond all expectations, as well as the blind stubbornness and the ideological blinkers of the Muslim Brothers and the coordination of various actors, the security forces, young revolutionaries, certain political forces (including the Salafis) and members of the ancien régime, with the blessing of the army. The Brothers found that they were in a bite, in which above all else they refused to make concessions, believing that others would be asked of them: either they allowed the demonstrations to take place without attacking them, thus enabling them to grow, or they attacked them and gave the army a pretext for intervening.

 

 

The road map of the army is rather simple: freeze the Constitution and appoint a committee to amend it. This formula, which is rather shaky, allows the Salafis, who are very attached to the Constitution of December 2012, to be kept within the coalition. The other measures are to appoint an ad interim president, Adli Mansour, the President of the Constitutional Court; form a government of technocrats supported by the members of the coalition; and prepare for presidential elections.

 

It is very difficult to predict what will happen. The only thing one can do is to make an inventory of the problems and the reasons for the unrest. First of all, is an ‘Algerian scenario’ to be feared? Does the country run the risk of a civil war? The first night without Morsi witnessed a dozen people killed in the provinces during the course of incidents begun by the Muslim Brothers. In the Sinai the Brothers and their allies have the means by which to embrace a policy of ‘what the hell’.

 

 

And elsewhere? In theory, this choice would be an error and would legitimise a harsher repression, alienating the population even more. But it could be imposed from the grass roots were they to radicalise or were Brothers to be excluded from the political arena by the new coalition. This problem raises another two: the future of the direction of the Brothers and the breadth of the arrests in the ranks of the Brotherhood. This last has been guilty of acts like those that led to the trial of Mubarak and those who worked with him. But does the new team aim at hitting only the leaders? Dissolving the Brotherhood? Not doing anything at all? We do not yet know with certainty and all the more that the pressure of the streets and the revolutionary young people will be crucial.

 

 

It is equally difficult to know whether the state of the economy will permit or to call into question unpopular decisions. At first sight, the answer is ‘no’, but the Gulf countries (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the Emirates) have on a number of occasions allowed their Egyptian interlocutors to understand that they are ready to help the country in a massive way if the Muslim Brothers were to fall and President Mubarak were treated better. Are they ready to do this and/or forgo the second condition? The Emirates seem to have already provided substantial help with the delivery of notable quantities of petrol (Egypt suffers from a lack of this which weakens its economy).

 

 

Does the coalition which has taken the place of the Brothers have the means by which to last, at least for the time needed to organise elections (a few months in all likelihood)? The members of the ancien régime, the men of the security forces and the young revolutionaries, the non-Islamists and the Salafis, and those who want to destroy the state apparatus in order to democratise it and those, on the other hand, who are linked to its authoritarian modernisation, to give only three examples: can these people all at once go on a part of the journey together? As regards certain areas, for example that of the Constitution and the position of the men of the ancien régime, a possible agreement is not visible.

 

 

The various forces will be very much tempted to court the army and the police, ask for their arbitration, and thus consecrate their pre-eminence. A successful democratic transition requires the presence of powerful or influential parties. In Egypt these do not exist and the country is a gigantic building site without a united work team and where money is short.

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