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 "terrorism and violence."
    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

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    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...

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora