Fez- The violence and the military coup in Egypt are reminiscent of the distressing Algerian scenario. On 26 December 1991, the FIS, Islamist party won the local elections by a large majority. A few months later, they also won the legislative elections – 188 of the 231 seats contested in that round – putting them far ahead of rivals.
On 11 January 1992, a military coup cancelled the electoral process and forced President Benjedid to resign, and a state of emergency was declared. The government officially dissolved FIS on March 4. Shortly after that, many militants took to the hills and joined guerrilla groups. The country inexorably slid into a civil war which would claim more than 250,000 lives, from which it only began to emerge at the beginning of the 2000s.
The Egyptian massacre also reminds us of the Palestinian scenario of 2006. The US, Europe Union, and Israel refused to accept the results of the January 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections, acknowledged by all observers to be free and fair. Instead of engaging the new leadership, Israel, with US encouragement, cut off aid, tax revenues and, eventually, almost all links with the external world. The policy was atrocious and simple: Gaza’s 1.5 million citizens were severely punished for electing leaders unacceptable to Tel Aviv and Washington.
The next step was to stage a coup by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, despite Hamas’ willingness to form a coalition government with Abbas’ Fatah faction. But Hamas struck first, overthrowing the corrupt and discredited Palestinian Authority in June 2007. This has led to the political division of the Palestinian territory between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and to brutal violence between Palestinian factions.
On 27 December 2008, Israel initiated yet another heinous carnage of the Palestinian people because of its democratically elected Hamas government. It did so with the hushed support of the US, the European Union and their Arab followers, without trying to negotiate in good faith with the elected government of the Palestinian people.
Since then, Israel has tightened the blockade on Gaza, leading the UN’s human rights representative in the territories, Richard Falk, to accuse Israel of committing a “crime against humanity”.
These two sad experiences should teach Egyptians, neighboring countries, as well as the West, in particular the US, that democracy and the rule of law should be above all political calculations.
However, the main problem of the Muslim Brothers in Egypt is that they are not interested in modernity for their capital objective is to revive the Islamic Caliphate and to Islamize society. Additionally, they did not trust non-Islamists, nor reach out to them, resulting in their isolation.
Surely the situation is very complex, and democratic transitions can be long and tedious. The evidence from 1990s Eastern Europe, where many of the countries are still grappling with the early stages of their democratic passage, suggests that, while democracy is excellent for good governance, peace, and development, the first stages of the democratic process can be perilous if mismanaged.
Egyptians are divided today between those who long for security and economic development, and those who know that although the price is high, the country is at a turning point between military dictatorship and the possibility of a civil state.
What is happening in Egypt is a matter of serious concern, which is likely to threaten the security of the entire region, especially after the recent terrorist attacks in the Sinai desert and after the recent assassination attempt on the life of the new interior minister, Major General Mohammed Ibrahim. Demonstrations and protests are organized on a daily basis in cities like Cairo and Alexandria by pro-Morsi supporters. Such a dangerous situation can result in the worsening of the living conditions of Egyptians, amid globally tough economic times.
The new Egyptian government should negotiate a power sharing arrangement with all political forces in the country, including the moderate Islamists. It should guarantee freedom of expression, tolerance, human rights, economic development, and take the necessary steps toward an inclusive democratic civil state.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy
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