In February, I wrote in The National Interest that the Egyptian revolution had become a struggle between the two forces- the military and the Muslim Brotherhood, and that the latter would prevail because in a revolution power eventually devolves to the group best able to mobilize the masses.
The size of the crowd in Tahrir Sq. may have been a factor in the military and election commission deciding to accept the popular vote for the Brotherhood candidate, Morsi. Or the military may have felt they had already secured their position with their dissolution of Parliament and limiting of presidential power, so they intended all along to avoid confrontation over the Presidential result.
Either way, the acknowledgement of Morsi as the popularly elected leader of Egypt is a win for the Brotherhood and democracy.
But we are still in the early rounds of revolutionary struggles, with many issues — from Parliament, to the constitution, to the economy, to the relation between civilian president and military leadership — all to be resolved.
I still believe that in the end, the MB will win on the key issues; as we just saw, their power to moblize the masses is formidable. But much also depends on their performance in office, and trends in the region. For the latter, Kuwait is facing new partliamentary demands. Syria may have overstepped by shooting down a Turkish jet.
It will be an interesting few years ahead. A comment by Ali Saleem points out the useful examples of Pakistan and Turkey. In Pakistan, much was expected of Benazir Bhutto’s regime when she was elected; but corruption and ineffectiveness during her regime raised the status of the military and led to a coup. By contrast, the strong economic performance of the Erdogan regime in Turkey and its imrpovements in administration won it ever greater support until it was in a position to push the military aside. The MB clearly wishes to follow the Turkish example!
I hope that Western leaders will put aside any anxiety about the MB and heartily congratulate Morsi and urge the military to work with him to improve the economy and continue the democratic process. But it remain a long process ahead.
Somehow I don’t think Marquess of Queensberry rules apply here, though it’d be nice if they did. I think there are so many challenges from so many directions, not least the economy and that as they say in Central America, the mountains don’t breed democrats; the Brotherhood has been persecuted for a long time and the radical openness this period will require hard to envision. And it was not lost on me that the military has suggested this President and election will be obviated by the new constitution…hopefully the military will realize they are on the wrong side of history.
Morsi’s opening speech is a good start.