Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Strong and committed negotiators needed in Egypt

We need strong, skillful and patient negotiations with all parties in Egypt….and the paucity of creative leadership is appallingly tragic

(Written on July 11, 2013)
In his recent column, Harron Siddiqui writes that democracy is good for everyone, except the
He even quotes one writer who compares the treatment of the Muslim Brotherhood to that of the Jews in the Second World War…
However, there is considerable history here that might help to explain why this drama unfolded.
It was the military, under the thumb of Hosni Mubarak, who effectively ruled Egypt for the last thity-odd years, and while Mubarak is gone, his legacy of repressing the Muslim Brotherhood, in order to maintain good relations with both the U.S. (for pecuniary aid) and Israel, (to preserve the relationship with the U.S) is almost hard-wired into the military and its leaders.
Power, not the method of governance, is a highly addictive experience, and the military is unlikely to relinquish it fully ever, unless and until there has been a purging of the most recent history in the country.
There are so many ‘weapons’ the military can and do deploy in their public relations campaign, like tanks, helicopters, fighter jets, and swarms of ‘boots on the ground’….all of this taking advantage of a vacuum in public confidence in the Morsi presidency.
And the public, appearing disenchanted, dismayed, perhaps even repelled by the lack of improvement in their lives, in the opportunities for their children and in the deafness of the president to their demands, was easily swept along in the military “parade” on their behalf.
Even today, the Muslim Brotherhood are speaking about their failure to provide good governance; they will retreat and reflect on their mistakes and they will return to another round of elections better armed to take and retain power than they were the first time.
And the world knows onto too well that the Muslim Brotherhood’s pursuit of an Islamist state is at the heart of much of the world’s current turbulence…so while Siddiqui notes that the recent downplaying of democracy by the military and the world’s political class, especially when the Islamists had gained power through the ballot-box, could generate more radical terrorists in support of radical Islam than both the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the march of the Islamic Brotherhood toward an Islamic state, one that is so pivotal to the future of the Middle East as is Egypt, is nothing short of a frightening prospect to many world leaders.
This is a time, unfortunately, for calm collaboration, for creative steps to bring all the players in Egypt to the same table, for what have to be long and painful discussions about their shared future. Negotiating skills, patients, wisdom and detachment from personal ambition, including the ambition that is sparked by rabid followers in a movement, will have to prevail, if this revolution is to have a fruitful, peaceful and integrating resolution.
And, from the outside, it would appear that the west’s confusion, and tentative approach to the situation, including the emasculated attempts to bring a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis, will do little to instill confidence among the people of Egypt that the rest of the world is really interested in assisting in a meaningful way in their dilemma.
It is truly amazing how few statesmen and women have appeared to be able to make any statements that would make the Egyptian people take notice of both the motive and the urgency of whatever help might be available to them in their crisis…and it is appalling how fractious the world has become in the face of the latest threat of these Islamic uprisings….
Has AlQaeda really put so much fear into the world’s political class that, in effect, we have permitted our own emasculation in so far as collaborating with and contributing to the unrest and the fear that they are using to advance their ultimate goal of a caliphate?

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