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

Amnesty: EU Failing Migrants, Refugees

Rights group says migrants, refugees subject to detention, extortion, beatings More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office 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.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs