Egyptian People Caught Between A Rock And A Hard Place As Military Overthrows Elected President Morsi

Egypt ousts Morsi

It’s been two years since Egypt overthrew President Mubarek, one since Morsi assumed power, but the people are as far as ever from an open, equal society. Image @CBSNews

Egypt has overthrown its government–again. President Mohamed Morsi is out. The military made an announcement on Wednesday saying so, adding that it has taken action in response to the will of the people. Morsi says on his Facebook page that it isn’t so because he’s not giving up his office, but he seems to be holed up somewhere behind barbed wire. However, the coup was not unexpected. Adly al-Mansour, the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court, did give Morsi a deadline to meet the demands of the Egyptian people, which the President ignored.

The head of Egypt’s armed forces, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, issued a declaration that the constitution has been suspended and that al-Mansour would be the temporary head of state until elections take place. Guess al-Mansour doesn’t have much else to do, since the constitution is pretty much toast.

For the reader’s sake, as well as mine, I’m going to turn to an expert for an understanding of the situation. Associate professor Samer S. Shehata, of the University of Oklahoma, has studied Egypt’s democracy closely. On Wednesday, he wrote the following in the New York Times:

Egypt has a dilemma: its politics are dominated by democrats who are not liberals and liberals who are not democrats..

So today, Egypt faces a disturbing paradox: an ostensibly democratic movement is calling on the military, which produced six decades of autocrats, to oust a democratically elected president — all in the name of setting the country, once again, on a path to democracy.

A summary of the professor’s view is that no one wants to be particularly inclusive. Liberals want a democracy as long as the Muslim Brotherhood can be excluded. Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood won a democratic election, but are apparently interested in having all the power rather than accommodating any other group. This leaves the Egyptian people pretty much out in the cold–or rather, the heat, which is what they’re actually out in, protesting en masse in Tahir Square.

Shehata also clarifies what has made Morsi such an unpopular figure:

[Morsi] has been a disastrous leader: divisive, incompetent, heavy-handed and deaf to wide segments of Egyptian society who do not share his Islamist vision. He and his Brotherhood backers have focused on consolidating power rather than delivering on his promises — to represent all Egyptians; to fix the economy; to make the streets safer, cleaner, less traffic-choked; to treat all Egyptians equally. None have been kept.

It has been two years since Egypt’s revolution overthrew President Mubarek, one year since Morsi assumed power, but the people are as far as ever from seeing their dreams of an open, equal society come true. The Egyptian Armed Forces (EAF) have laid out a roadmap that will theoretically return the country to democracy. The roadmap includes forming a “technocrat, capable national government,” reviewing the constitution, and preparing for parliamentary elections.

The EAF said the roadmap was formed after meeting with other factions, and prominent Muslim and Christian leaders promptly endorsed it. Opposition leader, Mohamed ElBaradei, said that the map met the demands of protesters and that the “2011 revolution was re-launched.” The U.S.  government has declined to take a position on the coup, with State Department spokesperson, Jen Psaki saying: “We’re not taking sides in this.”

That leaves all of us in pretty much the same boat: waiting to see what happens next.