Egypt: A revolution, redux

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After only one year in power, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has been ousted from political office, and Egypt’s future is once again clouded with uncertainty.

The beginning of the end for Morsi was when opposition groups planned protests for June 30 to mark the anniversary of his 2012 inauguration. Several groups were unhappy with his presidency because of the prominence of Islamists in office and Morsi’s failure to fix Egypt’s crippling economy. Protests began early, according to The Guardian, but Morsi continued to validate himself.

However, Morsi’s defiance did not carry him to success. When protests began to escalate, the Egyptian Army gave him and the opposition 48 hours to resolve their issues. Nothing changed, and army officials escorted Morsi out of office Wednesday.

While this seems like a familiar story for Egyptians, Morsi’s saga differs from former President Hosni Mubarak. According to DePaul political science professor Erik Tillman, the biggest difference is that Morsi was elected.

“The more appropriate comparison is to Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan,” Tillman said. “They are both leaders who appear to believe that being elected gives them a more or less open mandate to pursue their agenda.”

Brian Wright is researching with DePaul law professor M. Cherif Bassiouni and is also a professor at the American University of Cairo. He seconded Tillman’s belief.

“We have to look at each situation uniquely,” Wright said. “With Morsi’s government, you’re dealing with a system that had some level of legitimacy.”

Tillman also said that Morsi’s ouster shows how complicated democratization can be.

“All too often, we equate democracy with elections,” Tillman said. “But any proper understanding of democracy has to include a strong respect for the rule of law and protection of individual rights.”

Now that Morsi is gone, the army has promised elections and a brand new constitution. Adli Mansour, a judge on Egypt’s High Constitutional Court, is now the country’s interim president. Since his appointment, Mansour has nominated famous opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei as interim prime minister.

According to Wright, one of Egypt’s biggest political challenges will be persuading the Muslim Brotherhood to rejoin the game. Morsi was democratically elected, he said, so Islamist leaders will claim that the army can remove anyone it does not like from power.

“Right now, they’re going to feel extremely betrayed,” Wright said.

But despite their anger, Wright said he does not believe that major Islamist groups as a whole will resort to violence. Some demonstrations have broken out since Morsi’s removal, but none of it has been officially mandated by the Muslim Brotherhood.

“If they (the Muslim Brotherhood) go to violence, they know that the military, police and everybody else is going to go get them,” Wright said. “As a group, they’re not going to do anything to jeopardize their position in the system.”

The army will undoubtedly guide Egypt to a new constitution, according to Wright, but it could take anywhere from 90 days up to six months. Along with stubborn Islamists, the country has to organize a scattered liberal opposition movement and keep an eye on an army with a history of human rights violations. Wright said he can make predictions based on expertise, but ultimately, anything can happen.  

“Unfortunately, these situations are very unprecedented, and any small event can turn into something big,” Wright said.