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How did the crisis in Egypt snowball? (Part 2)

We could choose between opposing this new authority, boycotting it, or participating in an attempt to contain the damage to come. In other words, we had to choose the option that implied the least damage, and we did.     

Nader Bakkar
14 August 2013

As the popular rage escalated, the media focused on magnifying it and the ‘Tamarod’ (Rebel) campaign that collected signatures to oust the president went viral, the party I belong to, al-Nour, made it clear to the Muslim Brotherhood that the possibility for military intervention was growing. We proposed forming a coalition government that embraced the opposition, solving the crisis over the General Prosecutor by convincing him to resign and appointing a replacement through the Supreme Judicial Council, and entering a reconciliation process with various state institutions.    

The Muslim Brotherhood refused this proposal, and instead built their strategy on the assumption that the military would never intervene, on categorical denial of the popular frustration, which they attributed solely to Christians and seculars, appointing yet more Muslim Brotherhood governors to give an impression of consolidation of their power, and mobilizing Islamist supporters against their opponents, who were labeled as Christians and seculars. Their speeches hinted at the threat of disloyalty, claimed that violence would occur, and mobilized Islamists near ‘Al Ittihadeya Palace’ (Rabe`a Al Adaweya Square) to prevent the protesters from breaking into the palace.  

We refused to be part of this as we were convinced that it was built on wrong assumptions. We knew how deep the popular rage was and that it included a huge number of Islamist supporters who had voted for Morsi in both rounds of the elections. Also, we totally draw the line at accusations of infidelity and the instigation of political violence, which we reject under any circumstances.

We met with the president one week before the incidents to convince him to try again to solve the upcoming crisis. We tried to alert him that the military meant what it had said in offering him one week’s grace to sort out his differences with the opposition and come to an understanding. They had said that they wouldn’t stand by and watch the country collapse into civil war. However, he insisted that the situation was under control and that the June 30 protests would come and go peacefully.  

The president’s speech, four days prior to June 30, had the reverse effect as it didn’t offer any solutions. Instead, it ignited popular tension by declaring that this was a state of exception. Instructing ministers to fire all suspected fraudsters and taking away the licenses of fuel stations that were found cheating would only have resulted in more fumbling and accusing some fallguys, while the real sources of corruption would have got away scot free as the government can’t, or maybe won’t, touch them. Citing a roll call of specific personnel from the judiciary or businessmen alerted observers to the grave situation of hostility that had turned to a personal enmity between the presidency and its opponents.      

The Brotherhood and their supporters took to the streets on June 21 and June 28, and arranged a sit-in in Rabe`a till June 30. The masses took to the streets on June 30 and unlike the expectations of the Muslim Brotherhood, they didn’t try to break into the Palace. All the media, including the state TV, took the side of the protesters, which indicated that the president had already lost control over the state. The day was concluded with the military’s declaration of a 48 hours grace period to solve the crisis or else it would intervene, which indicated the military’s full control over the state.  

Then, we, the Al Nour Party, had to ask the president to accept premature presidential elections. In the last speech he made, he declared that he would  accept solutions that had been proposed five months earlier and that at the time were considered treasonous. This acceptance came too late to check the continuous escalation of events. The president didn’t even try to gain some sympathy. He adopted an upbraiding and challenging tone to all his opponents.    

After the speech, the military toppled Morsi and took control of all state institutions, including the presidential palace and the television (the Muslim Brotherhood minister of information had lost control of this one week earlier). The military took over all the important ministries, including the ministry of petroleum whose new administration managed to solve the benzene and gas crisis without a minister. Regardless of the reasons for this sudden improvement - whether it was a conspiracy that was stopped or solved by Arab aid, they mainly wanted to prove their control, and they did.  

All the police forces joined the opponents of the president, followed by the military forces. It became obvious that this new administration was the new authority. We could choose between opposing this new authority, boycotting it, or participating in an attempt to contain the damage to come. In other words, we had to choose the option that implied the least damage, and we did. 

As for the confrontation, it is clear that the Salafist Call Society refuses armed confrontation. The biggest threat to the Call is the possibility of Islamist involvement in armed confrontation, as in the Algerian model. In addition to the sheer threat of armed confrontation mentioned in previous articles, this would be more grave in the case of Egypt as the Egyptian army is the only one left to face the hegemony of others. If someone thinks of taking the army on as a political confrontation strategy, they’d better consider its effect on the nation’s supreme interests, not only on the current situation. We still refuse the repetition of the Syrian model, even if this requires a delay in Egypt’s democratic path.    

Peaceful confrontation through protests and demonstrations has become dangerous; especially when that peace is not guaranteed and has even expressed a declared readiness to violence. Violence already took place in the Republican Guard and Al Nasr Road massacres, and we have condemned it.

Our vision of participating in the ruling coalition as a secondary tool for reform, versus those who believe that being in power is the main aim, made the Al Nour Party’s stand, based on the Islamist reference point, distinctive .

For those who believe that ruling is the only important thing, it is hard, almost impossible, to stay in power with such a level of opposition coming back to you from people and institutions. For those in sit-ins and demonstrations calling for Morsi to be restored as president: what if Morsi were to come back? How would he run the state with the current conflict between him, the army, the police, the intelligence, the judiciary and a huge faction of the people? How would he react to the return of the deep state with the benzene and gas crisis, among others? Such crises require the assistance of both the intelligence agencies and the interior ministry, which means that these crises will be fiercer in the event that Dr. Morsi is restored. I wonder how the people would react then!

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