Having been out of touch with world events for the last couple of weeks it was interesting catching up. For those who don’t follow my travels on my sailing blog, I’m now in Darwin (Australia), with Internet access. I’ll be here until the 27th July then off on the high seas again, voyaging to Indonesia.
I wasn’t too surprised to read about the Egyptian Military intervention. What sums up Western misconceptions about events in the Middle East was the BBC’s Jeremy Bowen’s comments during an interview with Mohamed ElBaradei.
“The whole point about democracy surely is that people wait until the next election”
The whole point about democracy Mister Bowen is that people have a choice. The ‘Arab Spring revolution’ had no real leader(s) and after the overthrow of Mubarak the only political group that had any sort of on the ground organisation was the Muslim Brotherhood. No real surprise then that they won the first democratic election nor that Morsi won the presidential elections. So far so democratic but Morsi then proceeded to exceed his mandate. He had no constitutional powers because the MB dominated assembly hadn’t got around to approving a constitution. He became, in effect, a dictator. It was looking very much like a ‘one person, one vote, one time’ situation. That is not democracy and there would be no ‘next election’.
In the meantime Morsi was trying to steer Egypt towards a Sharia State and many, possibly a clear majority of those who voted for him, were having second thoughts. There were worries about the economy, a problem which Morsi was not addressing. There were worries about the reversal of Women’s rights, something which ironically under Mubarak had seen many improvements compared to some ME countries and there were concerns amongst the military that Morsi would seek a military confrontation with Israel. To circumvent their concerns about this Morsi started promoting officers with Islamist leanings and marginalizing those who were more cautious.
Obama’s strange obsession
President Obama, despite all evidence to the contrary, seems convinced that Islamist organisations are democratic. They are not and there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that they are. Neither are they any friend to the West, specifically America. Let me be clear here in drawing a distinction between Muslims in general and Islamists in particular. No doubt Muslims in general hold a broad spectrum of political opinions and some will be moderate and some will be more orthodox. Islamist are not pro-western or liberal by definition and merely wishing or imagining that they are will not make it so. Nor are they in any way democratic organisations. In short there is no reason to view them as friendly to the West or America, yet Obama appears to think that they are or can be persuaded, by means of grants, soft loans or supplies of arms, to be so.
Events in Turkey, a country with a longer tradition of secular democracy than Morsi’s Egypt, have shown that some, possibly the majority of Muslims are happy with an ‘Islamic- flavoured state’ but they rarely want the full nine-yards and woe-betide any prime minister or president who ventures too far down that path, ignoring popular opinion. Morsi did not learn that lesson and has paid the price.
What now for Egypt?
A civilian interim president has been installed and the army has said yes to peaceful demonstrations and no to violent street confrontations. There is talk of imminent elections and a commission of reconciliation. It remains to be seen whether that happens but I wish the people of Egypt well in their struggle to establish a genuine democracy.