They Are Egypt

“And as much joy as I have for the success of the Egyptian people and what they have accomplished (and how they have accomplished it), I sincerely hope it doesn’t spiral into a military dictatorship.”  I wrote those very words back on February 11 after the Egyptian people were successful in overthrowing their long-time president Hosni Mubarak. (read here)  And though the revolution was largely peaceful, the end result still had me concerned.  The military had stayed on the side of the protesters instead of the government (the exact opposite of what we are seeing in Syria right now).  But when Mubarak was gone, it was the military that stepped in to the void to make sure the country didn’t fall into anarchy.  They were supposed to “look over” the country until a new constitution could be written up and democratic elections could be held.  But my concern back in February was that once in power, the military leaders would do everything they could to stay in it.  And it is starting to seem more and more like that might be the case.

The elections were to be held a couple of months ago, though they are supposed to get underway by the end of November and last until March.  These are just the parliamentary elections… and this body is what will draft the new constitution for the country.  However, besides for dragging their feet to the elections, the military leaders are now trying to make it to where they can overrule the Parliament and the President if they disagree with anything.  Military funding would remain secret and not released to the public.  And, in an early draft as to what they wanted, the military would make up 80 out of the 100 people that are to draft the new constitution.  It sounds like they would be setting up a puppet government.  It would “look” free and democratic to the outside world, but they would be running a military dictatorship behind the scenes.

In Tunisia… which is slightly farther west from Egypt in North Africa, free elections have already been held.  Why is this important?  It’s because it was in Tunisia at the beginning of the year that these democratic revolutions started.  Once simple act of protest turned into something much larger.  Within days, Tunisia had overthrown its government.  An interim government was put in place until elections could be held… and they have been.  (NOTE: Tunisia had a higher voter turnout than any election in the US in modern history.)

Egypt has now come to the fork in the road.  Which way do they turn can only be decided by them?  The people have taken to the streets once again to show the military leaders that they will not accept anything short of full free and democratic elections… and a government that answers to the people and not the military.  It has now mixed spiritual and secular as religious denominations are lending their voices and helping to organize the masses.  The military leaders would be wise to listen to the people.  They should be smart enough to see what is still going on across the Middle East with leaders that are trying to hang on to power despite objections from the masses.  The Egyptian people will unite once again to overthrow the military if they try to stay in power.  It is a movement that probably would not be as peaceful as the last one, but it would end with the same outcome.

I personally hope that I am wrong on this one.  I do not want to see a military dictatorship set up in a country where the people worked together peacefully to overthrow their government and institute new democratic policies… something that every American should even cherish.  The Egyptian people need to stand strong and not back down.  The country does belong to the people.  They must be willing to fight against the corruption that still exists within the military hierarchy for the freedoms and reforms that they are seeking.  It was Thucydides that said, “The secret of happiness is freedom.  The secret of freedom is courage.”  The Egyptian people had the courage before in the early part of the year, and now I see that courage once again in the streets.  Their first parliamentary elections are about to start in earnest within the coming weeks, and they must make sure that their voices are the ones that are heard over all else.  They are not just the Egyptian people. They are Egypt.


For previous entries on the Arab Spring… uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East, click the following links:  Ivory Tusks, African Political Upheaval, The Pharaoh’s Tomb, Riding the Waves of Democracy, Eye of the Beholder.


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