THE BLOG

Nasser Redux?

In the 61 years since the Egyptian monarchy was ended with the coup of the Free Officers in 1952, the Army has been in charge of the country in all but one of these years. Which is to say that Army rule in Egypt is not all that unusual. Three successive military figures held sway, Nasser, Sadat and Mubarak. The latter's rule was ended in early 2011 by the Army in response to a popular uprising against his regime.
In only one of those 61 years was there civilian rule, by the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi, narrowly elected President in 2012. Morsi proceeded to undermine his own rule, not by antagonizing the Army, which he was careful not to do, but by alienating the non-Islamist part of Egyptian society, and even some Islamists as well. He forced through a Constitution that did not guarantee against Islamists inroads; he declared himself above the judiciary, which is an important institution in Egypt; and he sought to seed the bureaucracy with Muslim Brotherhood appointees. It was typical of the way things take place in that part of the world. Having won an election, or won power, you don't reach out to other parties. It is "winner take all", or, put another way, "We won't see you again until the next election".
A massive movement against Morsi sprang up, and in response, as it did in 2011, the Army stepped in to remove the regime. The Army's attack on the Muslim Brotherhood since Morsi's removal in July has been brutal and excessive. But it is not without historical precedent. Throughout all the years of its existence since its founding in 1928, the Brotherhood has been alternately outlawed or merely tolerated.
The Army states that it is going to arrange for new elections and the emergence of a new President. But in the meantime, Gen. Abdal Fattah al-Sisi, the new Army chief, looking resolute and handsome in his military uniform and cap, might on the other hand evolve into the image of a strong leader (the "Rais") that has been so much a part of the Egyptian tradition.
So I don't think we should cry so much over the fate of the Muslim Brotherhood. Bashar al-Asad of Syria remarked on the removal of Morsi, "It's the end of political Islam", proving just how unpredictable and cockeyed the alignments in the Middle East are.
It will be commendable, certainly, if Egypt resumes its short-lived democracy. But if we are going to have a Nasser redux, it is not our role as Americans to seek to interfere.

Subscribe to the World Post email.