COUNTERPUNCH: Bloodbath on the Nile – Part II


Egypt’s Shameful Day ….


By Esam Al-Amin

Out of 25 governors, Egypt’s military appointed 19 generals including many Mubarak-era officials. To the military, taming and controlling the population was its top priority. So much for the promise of empowering the youth.

Liberals such as Mohammad ElBaradei convinced themselves that they could ally with the military at the expense of their ideological foes, the Islamists, instead of democratically competing at the ballot box. Soon, ElBaradei awoke to the hard reality that brute force and violence is the military’s preferred tool to settle disputes, not the messy compromises of democracy.

The Nobel peace laureate then had to resign in disgrace. His fellow peace laureate Barack Obama did not fare better. He also failed the democracy litmus test by not condemning the coup when it was announced or standing up firmly for democracy and the rule of law. However, the day after the bloodshed, the violence, which he said the interim government and security forces were responsible for.

The statement was a step in the right direction, even though it was not strong enough, since it equivocated on its support for the restoration of the constitution and the democratically-elected deposed president.

Foreign powers care very little for Egypt or its people. Time and again, the West has proven that its rhetoric of lofty ideals and values are sacrificed at the altar of short-term interests. Historically, the U.S. has often been more concerned about the security of Israel than serving its own long-term interests.

Israel had considered Mubarak a strategic asset for three decades. It was the main reason the U.S. had to prop him up at the expense of supporting and building democratic institutions in the country.

If Israel or its supporters in the U.S. favored Sisi and feared the ascendance of the Islamists, the U.S. would most likely then favor the military over the democratic will of the Egyptian people regardless of the consequences. This would actually put the long-term U.S. national security interests in the region in peril.

Both Secretary of State John Kerry and EU Foreign Chief Catherine Ashton had expressed reservations about the intervention by the Egyptian military chief. But when it mattered most, they accepted its aftermath.

Comparisons to Libya and Syria

When the government cracked down using bloody tactics comparable to Libya’s Gadhafi or Syria’s Assad, Western governments were restrained in their criticism. When the pro-coup government declared a state of emergency after the crackdown, instead of rejecting it outright, the West shamefully accepted it hoping that “it would be lifted soon.”

To be credible, the call for the UN Security Council by several Western countries must include the referral of Egypt’s coup leaders to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to face charge of crimes against humanity. There is a ample evidence already assembled on the Internet and through live witnesses to prove this heinous crime.

The ruthlessness of the coup and the brutality of the crackdown have solidified in the eyes of the Islamists and many pro-democracy Egyptians the immense challenges they face. The January 25 uprising was not a complete revolution.

The revolutionary partners handed it over to the military, which was eventually able to assemble the political building blocks needed to restore the old coalition of the military and the deep state at the expense of the real objectives of the revolution.

Undoubtedly, the military coup has veered Egypt off the democracy track. The most effective way to get back on it is for ordinary Egyptians from all political strands to once again descend to the streets by the millions to challenge the authoritarianism and brutality of the state. Egyptians must reclaim their revolutionary zeal.

They must also aspire to regain their unity: Muslims and Christians, men and women, young and old. The defining factor should be a true and genuine commitment to democratic principles and the rule of law.

That means an absolute rejection of the military coup and the army’s intervention in politics, as well the purging of all corrupt elements of the deep state. That entails an absolute repudiation of any sectarian conflict.

The burning of Coptic churches must not only be condemned, but the churches should be protected by Muslims like any revered mosque. Suffice it to remember that it was Mubarak’s security apparatus and interior minister Habib Al-Adly that were actually responsible for bombing the Church of the Saints in Alexandria one month before the 2011 revolution in order to accuse Islamists and spread suspicion and acrimony.

Similarly, the identity and nature of Egyptian society should not be subject to sectarian debate; Egypt has demonstrated for centuries that it can have an Islamic-based culture that is tolerant and harmonious.

As if the pro-coup regime was not already illegitimate, the bloody massacre has completely stripped it from any semblance of legitimacy.

An international BDS (Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions) campaign and a global protest movement should immediately be put in place while a massive civil disobedience effort at home is mobilized until the criminal regime is overthrown and its murderous elements are brought to justice.

According to international jurist and human rights legal expert, Professor Cherif Bassiouni it is possible for the UN Human Rights Commission to initiate a process to investigate the bloody massacre and to eventually file charges with the ICC.

As Egyptians take to the streets in the coming days, weeks, and months, three factors will single handedly or collectively influence the future course of Egypt’s unfinished revolution: the break up and defeat of the security state, the exit of the military from Egypt’s political life and to be subjected to civilian oversight, and a principled and uncompromising stand by the international community against the coup in support of democracy and the rule of law.

Max Weber reasoned that a necessary condition for an entity to be a state is that it retains its claim on the monopoly of violence in the enforcement of its order. But when this monopoly of violence is used against the citizens of a civilized state to thwart their will, it could never be legitimate.

That is a state ruled by the law of the jungle.

(Esam Al-Amin is the author of  The Arab Awakening Unveiled: Understanding Transformations and Revolutions in the Middle East. Email him at Follow him on Twitter: @al_arian1919.)


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