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Egypt's failed democracy a lesson for the Mideast

Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi
Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi
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Battling terrorism since Egypt’s first democratically elected 62-year-old President Mohammed Morsi was deposed by Egypt’s military July 3, 2013, Cairo’s current chaos shows what happens in the Mideast with free-and-fair elections. When the so-called “Arab Spring” chased 85-year-old Hosni Mubarak from power Feb. 11, 2011, it gave Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood the best shot of winning Egypt’s first supervised election since declaring a republic in 1953. More organized than any other group, the Muslim Brotherhood had a leg up on all political candidates heading to Egypt’s first democratically held election May 24, 2012. While Morsi officially resigned from the Brotherhood before the election, once inaugurated, the outlawed group fired Egypt’s Supreme Court and suspended the Constitution, granting Morsi dictatorial powers, leaving Egypt blindsided.

Receiving his Ph.D. in material science at the University of Southern California in 1982, teaching at California State University Northridge [1982-1985], and having two of his five children in Los Angeles, U.S. officials had high hopes that Morsi could handle his role as Egypt’s first democratically elected president. When it became obvious the Brotherhood used Morsi to advance an Islamist agenda in Egypt, Egyptians took to the street in the millions to protest Egypt’s secular left-turn into a religious theocracy [Islamic state] under Brotherhood rule. With less than a year in office, the same pro-Democracy porters returned to Cairo’s Tahrir Square June 30, 2013, the place to oust Morsi. When the Muslim Brotherhood closed ranks to protect Morsi, Egypt’s Commander of the Armed Forces Gen. Abdel Fatah el-Sisi gave Morsi an ultimatum or face a coup.

After ignoring el-Sisi’s order, Egypt’s army ended Morsi’s one-year experiment in democracy July 3, 2013, branding the Brotherhood a terrorist group, arresting Morsi and his top lieutenants and declaring martial law. After bombing Cairo’s main police station January 24, the crackdown intensified on the Brotherhood, with el-Sisi signaling he’ll run for president in Arpil. Pro-Democracy protesters returned to Cairo’s Tahrir Square demanding el-Sisis become Egypt’s next president. With the Brotherhood and other Islamist groups controlling he Sinai Peninsula, el-Sisi had no choice but to assume power and lead the fight against the extremists backlash in the Sinai and other remote parts of Egypt, including the Suez Canal Zone. “He will then sit down from his command with days and run in the election,” said an unnamed military commander referring to el-Sisi’s decision to run for president.

Egypt’s growing anarchy with the Muslim Brotherhood sponsoring terrorism around the country prompted the military to consolidate control for the foreseeable future. Since declaring June 18, 1953 independence from Great Britain, Egypt’s been ruled by a succession of military leaders, until the first post-Mubarak election Nov. 28, 2011 put Morsi in power. White House officials haven’t faced the reality of what happened to Egypt once the election was hijacked by the Muslim Brotherhood. Threatening to cut Egypt’s economic and military aid unless reinstating Egypt’s democratically elected leaders, the White House and State Department haven’t accepted that Morsi’s election was hijacked by the Muslim Brotherhood. Palestinians in Gaza had the same result Jan. 11, 2006 when they voted the State Department-labeled terrorist group Hamas into office.

When former President George W. Bush went to war in Iraq March 20, 2003, he said the purpose was to “democratize” the Middle East. Since toppling Iraqi dictator and former U.S. ally Saddam Hussein April 10, 2003, Iraq has been a hotbed of terrorism. While there are some parallels in Egypt after toppling Mubarak, Bush didn’t retain Saddam’s Republican Guard to maintain law-and-order. With its long traditional and strong U.S. backing since 1953, the military kept Egypt from spiraling into anarchy like Iraq. El-Sisi’s ascendance to power assures that Egypt can move forward while the country stabilizes itself in the post-Mubarak era. Under Morsi, Egypt was hostage to the Muslim Brotherhood’s radical view of life after Mubarack. Under el-Sisi, Egypt has the chance of returning to the most stable, prosperous and progressive regime in the Arab World. Without him it’s anarchy.

Watching suicide bombing spread over Egypt since Morsi’s ouster July 3, 2013 dictates that Egypt’s martial law won’t end anytime soon. Egypt’s mainstream press and academic world want no part of the Muslim Brotherhood. Egypt’s first democratic election Nov. 28, 2011 proved that it’s too soon for Mideast countries to play around with democracy. Egypt’s Mulim Brotherhood had an unfair advantage preparing to win the election without any real popular support. Letting Army Commander el-Sisi rise to civilian president assures Egypt the shortest path to a functioning state. Without popular support, Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood just replaced Mubarak’s autocratic rule with a new, more tyrannical Muslim theocracy. “The political currents which the [new] president say are closer to him will benefit from it,” said Cairo American University in Cairo’s Gamal Abdel Soltan, hoping for better days.

About the Author

John M. Curtis writes politically neutral commentary analyzing spin in national and global news. He’s editor of OnlineColumnist.com and author of Dodging The Bullet and Operation Charisma.