February 10th, 2011
The Revolutionary Change and the Constitutional Change
By: Moomen, An Egyptian Liberal, Alexandria
Since 9-11 the United States is trying to promote political reform in the Middle East. The American administration is guided by the ideology that the dictatorial nature of the regimes in the region is the major cause for the emergence of radical Islamic groups. These same radical Islamic groups are hostile towards the United States because they consider the United States to be the major supporter of these dictatorial regimes.
Egypt is the natural location for political reform. It was Egypt that led the change by signing the Peace Treaty with Israel. Therefore, it is only natural it will be the leader of the assimilation of democracy into the region.
But, the Egyptians promoted change in very small steps. Trying to satisfy the West on the one hand, while – but maybe in 100 years…
That tactic, together with the deepening corruption, made the people more and more desperate. They didn’t see any chance for a change in their lifetime. The regime was successfully weakening the opposition to the point that the forces for secular change became completely powerless.
Meanwhile, political Islamic factors such as the Muslim Brotherhood or Salafi and Jihadist groups were deepening their influence on the public and taking advantage of the fact that they controlled the Mosques, and they took advantage of the vacuum created within the political system as an outcome of the oppression of the opposition. Thus, Political Islam gained more and more power.
This deepening crisis is the background for the uprising of the young generation in Egypt. Originally, the uprising was mostly against the Ministry of Interior which is considered to be the main oppressing tool of the regime. That is the reason the uprising began on January 25th – the official “Police Day”. The demands in the early phases of the uprising focused on economic and social reforms. That quickly changed into a more ambitious demand – the immediate and unconditional downfall of the regime.
The main reason for that change relates to the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood took the lead. Using their sophisticated and efficient infrastructure they were able to recruit and gather one million people with one phone call – while the young Egyptians that sparked the fire have no infrastructure whatsoever.
The Regime was stupid enough to play right into the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood by sending its gangs to attack the protesters in the Tahrir (Liberation) Square. They were pushed back by the Militia of the Muslim Brotherhood that gained additional public credit for its role as the defender of the uprising.
Thus, the Muslim Brotherhood was able to dictate a much more extreme line and tune. They focused their efforts in the Square but also no longer hid their involvement in other places like Alexandria.
Obama’s political shortsightedness could cause the total collapse of the regime; and that will serve the interests of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Why do I say that?
In the current atmosphere, the Muslim Brotherhood could use their popularity on the street to create constitutional reforms that will make the Egyptian Constitution more like to the Iranian Constitution, rather than the Turkish or the French Constitution, which is the one envisioned and desired by the Egyptian Liberals.
The Liberals in Egypt are weak as an outcome of constant oppression since the 1950’s. It is correct that the Muslim Brotherhood were also oppressed, but in their case it has gained them more and more power and popularity as the people were identifying with them. There is another major difference, and that is the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood has powerful economic backing – the branches of the Muslim Brotherhood organization worldwide provides the movement in Egypt with huge financial resources. That support together with the movement’s wide infrastructure in Egypt puts the Muslim Brotherhood in a winning position if free elections are to be held in the coming months.
The right solution is a transitional period of 5 years during which the Liberals could build the political and organizational infrastructure needed if they want to be able to confront the Muslim Brotherhood and to win the people’s support simultaneously,
A new Constitution needs to be written in a way that will decisively reflect the secular identity of Egypt and that would block a potential takeover by the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Muslim Brotherhood could take over. In some way I almost wish it would happen because I know that they will be not able to offer the people real solutions. The problem is that if the Muslim Brotherhood comes to power in a free democratic election; that will be the first and the last democratic election in Egypt.