Colombo Telegraph

“Revolutionaries” Who Threw Away The Arab Spring

By Kumar David

Prof Kumar David

Revolution ousted Mubarak in January 2011 and forced the military regime to hold elections. Islamists won the January 2012 parliamentary poll. The democratic-radical-secular (DRS) opposition should have learnt a lesson and united. But no! Come presidential elections in May, a dozen DRS candidates vied in the primary, split the vote, and though together they gathered 150 lakhs in total their leading candidate was third behind the Brotherhood’s Morsi (58 lakhs) and 55 lakhs for Shafiq of the old establishment. This disqualified the DRS from the run-off and terminated its ascent. After that DRS staggered from one blunder to another.

It is not the DRS alone that deserves condemnation. Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood have been intolerant and incapable of constructing consensus. They stuffed every office with Islamists, packed the constitutional assembly with bigots and rammed through a constitution that embittered Christian and Shia minorities, horrified democrats and demeaned women. This infuriated young people, the educated classes and the cities. To compound it, the government was incompetent in managing the economy; Morsi lost support even in the poor Caironeighbourhoods which were Brotherhood strongholds.  The economy has buckled, there is a fuel shortage, youth unemployment has rise to 40%, and malnutrition is rising.

The main force behind the 14 million strong late June anti-Morsi protest was Tamarod (Rebellion), the youth movement; backing it was the National Salvation Front (NSF), a bourgeois alliance led by Mohamed ElBaradei, former head of UN watchdog, International Atomic Energy Agency. They were thrown together by the bigotry of the Brotherhood which in power was so small-minded that it left the enlightened classes no option but rebellion. The rebels landed straight in the lap of the military, exposing the limits of populist street democracy without revolutionary strategy and perspective; that is without a Lenin.

But Morsi remains the democratically elected President. Is he stupid? Yes, but still the stupid lawfully elected president, ousted in a reactionary military power grab. That the army took cover behind outraged mass protests makes no difference to this raw truth. Now the military is facing a backlash and the Brotherhood refuses to compromise or negotiate till Morsi’s presidency is restored. If anyone wins a future election who can guarantee this won’t happen again? The Brotherhood says: “Democracy is bullocks; if you win its fine; if we win it’s a military takeover”. To this I have heard no credible or rational reply.

Now Tamarod has turned condemned the powers of Adly Mansour (military puppet and interim president) and the NSF has denied a hand in the decrees of the post-coup regime. Both are now trying to disentangle themselves after first cheering the power grab and undermining people’s power. There is confusion on all sides, the army is losing control, the outcome is unpredictable. A referendum on a new constitution in four months, and parliamentary and presidential polls early next year, have been promised. Both DRS and Brotherhood participated in the revolution against Mubarak; now they are at each others throats and the so-called radicals and liberals supported the military coup.

The military’s self-serving demands are an amnesty for the generals who grabbed power and protection of the vast business empire of generals and ex-generals. Morsi in power shielded the army and police, preventing prosecution of those responsible for killing thousands during the revolution. Instead he encouraged Islamist thugs, and arrested and harassed young revolutionaries on trumped up charges. He was been duly repaid by the army, which massacred 50 of his supporters protesting against his detention on 8 July!

Terminating Morsi’s presidency by constitutional means or crushing him and the Brotherhood at the next elections is what the Tamarod cum liberal democratic build up should have done. They should never have paved the way for a military coup.

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