News / Africa

Analysts Debate Success of Egypt's Military Intervention

FILE - An image grab taken from Egyptian state TV shows Egypt's army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi giving a live broadcast calling for public rallies to give him a mandate to fight
FILE - An image grab taken from Egyptian state TV shows Egypt's army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi giving a live broadcast calling for public rallies to give him a mandate to fight "terrorism and violence."
William Eagle
In recent weeks, Egypt’s military-backed government has introduced new measures to crack down on the Muslim Brotherhood.  It has labeled the group a terrorist organization, and has also detained Al Jazeerah journalists said to be backing them.  Civil libertarians have criticized the moves.  But others say they’re necessary as the country heads toward a constitutional referendum and elections.

Despite the measures, protests continue in some towns and universities. 

One Egyptian analyst says the crackdown is working -- and that protests to reinstate ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi have become smaller and less frequent.

Gamal Soltan, an associate professor of political science at American University in Cairo, questions the designation of protesters as students or journalists.

“ [When we mention] students or journalists,” he asserted, “we are talking about non-ideological groups.  But [these] students, they are actually Muslim Brothers, and unfortunately, Al Jazeerah has been an integral part of the conflict in Egypt. It has taken sides. The situation has changed, and it is now on the wrong side.”

He says reconciliation with the Muslim Brotherhood is out of the question for the time being.  He says the government’s policy is to redefine political Islam – by excluding the Brotherhood but allowing Islamic moderates such as the Al-Nour party to be on the ballot for parliament. 
 
Soltan says people want stability.

An Egyptian pritzel vender sits next to copies of the new constitution sold on a street in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013.An Egyptian pritzel vender sits next to copies of the new constitution sold on a street in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013.
x
An Egyptian pritzel vender sits next to copies of the new constitution sold on a street in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013.
An Egyptian pritzel vender sits next to copies of the new constitution sold on a street in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013.
“The majority of the people,” he said, “tend to support the new constitution and want to restore normalcy.  Most are hungry for a kind of a strongman, a strong government to be able to bring order and peace and to put the economy back on track.” 

Constitutional referendum

Said Sadek, an affiliate professor of political sociology at American University, says the Muslim Brotherhood is using protests and riots to derail the referendum.

“If there is a high turnout like 25 million out of 50 million,” he says, “this would be the official death certificate for the Muslim Brotherhood and the Morsi regime.  The Muslim Brotherhood has been in existence since 1928; its failure would affect other movements in the Islamic world.”

Temporary measures

Sadek says the government’s increased powers to detain and arrest are temporary, and may well change when, in his view, the Brotherhood is defeated.

“We are in exceptional circumstances,” he says, “and you must take lots of measures.  Our neighboring countries are failing states and now there’s an internal organization that wants to destroy our army and police to exert whatever [power] they like through their secret militias...there are no human rights for those who don’t believe in human rights.”

Political maneuvering

Recently, Egypt’s interim president, Adly Mansour, suggested that the presidential elections come before those for the legislature.  Soltan says it’s a good idea, because parliamentary campaigns can be divisive, and the pressure of electoral competition could fragment the broad coalition of parties that support the military-led roadmap to democracy.  He sees an elected president lending stability in the lead-up to the parliamentary polls. 

Others are more critical of the military-led transition. 

Na’eem Jeenah, the executive director of the Afro-Middle East Center in Johannesburg, sees political manipulation behind the choice of election dates.

“You [could] have the election of a strong president who would be able to dictate the time table and the rules for how the parliamentary elections take place,” he said. “[Head of the armed forces, General Adbul Fattal] al Sisi [may] stand for president, and he [would] be the kind of strongman president which the continent has been suffering under for decades.”

Jeenah says the current crackdown does not just affect the Islamists but anyone who disagrees with the military-led ouster of former President Morsi.  He says the stand-off is not between Islamists and secularists, but between those for and against the military-led intervention.

He says among those imprisoned by what he calls draconian anti-terror laws are secular activists and journalists.  He says the laws are meant to silence critics prior to the referendum on the new constitution. 

Media bias

Analyst Mohamad Hamas Elmasry says polling data continue to show that Egyptian society is largely split, with a one-sided media environment that promotes the interim government, not reconciliation.

Elmasry is an assistant professor and the graduate director in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at the American University in Cairo.
He says both the media and government routinely suggest the Brotherhood is treasonous and un-Egyptian, and have praised massacres of Brotherhood protesters. 

As an example, he referred to the killings of hundreds of protestors at Rabba al-Adawiya camp outside Cairo by security forces.  The government said troops fired in self defense.

An Egyptian civilian runs out of a public bus after it was caught up in clashes between supporters of Egypt's deposed president Mohamed Morsi and police in the northeastern part of Cairo's Nasr City district, Jan. 3, 2014.An Egyptian civilian runs out of a public bus after it was caught up in clashes between supporters of Egypt's deposed president Mohamed Morsi and police in the northeastern part of Cairo's Nasr City district, Jan. 3, 2014.
x
An Egyptian civilian runs out of a public bus after it was caught up in clashes between supporters of Egypt's deposed president Mohamed Morsi and police in the northeastern part of Cairo's Nasr City district, Jan. 3, 2014.
An Egyptian civilian runs out of a public bus after it was caught up in clashes between supporters of Egypt's deposed president Mohamed Morsi and police in the northeastern part of Cairo's Nasr City district, Jan. 3, 2014.
“After the massacres in August,” says Elmasry, “the Egyptian media were praising the government-instigated violence.  One of the private networks on TV was showing footage of the dispersal of the largest protests, while playing [the triumphant soundtrack to the film] Rocky in the background. “

Paper promises

Elmasry doubts that the proposed new constitution will restore civil liberties, despite articles that promise freedoms. He says the constitution under former president Hosni Mubarak, who ruled for over 30 years, also guaranteed press and personal freedoms.  However, those promises were replaced by what he calls draconian laws which remain on the books today. 

“Another problem with the [proposed] constitution,” he says, “is that the minister of defense is going to be essentially the most powerful person in the country. His appointment must be approved by the military [over the next two presidential terms], the president can not remove him, and his term is eight years long, which is twice as long as the president's term.”

Elmasry says democracy cannot develop in an environment of systematic exclusion, a repressive legal framework, and military domination.

Others say what Egypt needs is stability and evolution, not revolution.  They say a government headed by a military-backed president and a multi-party parliament is a step in the right direction.

Listen to analysis of Egypt's transition to a new constitution
Listen to analysis of Egypt's transition to a new constitutioni
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

You May Like

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

Video Kenyans Lament Al-Shabab's Recruitment of Youths

VOA travels to Isiolo, where residents share their fears, struggles to get loved ones back from Somalia-based militant group More

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Masri from: Cairo
January 08, 2014 6:55 AM
Sensi you should be talking about yourself if you view it as a coup then your just as ignorant and blind as the rest of the muslim brotherhood supporters who were told " if you dont vote for morsi you wont go to heaven " just one example i can give you a million more but there would be no point

by: Sensi
January 07, 2014 2:32 AM
Keep this nauseous propaganda coming, when you have bankrolled a nauseous military junta for decades like the US have and that this military junta have just killed Egyptian democracy with a coup d'Etat you still have to find discredited propagandists to push the military junta ludicrous talking points to the ignorant and conditioned masses... Shameful.

I predict that dictator Sisi is "elected", and that all will be back to dictatorship as usual soon enough I guess, more or less with the blessing of the West turning a blind eye...

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensionsi
X
May 26, 2015 11:11 PM
When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs