Can Egypt still make a U-turn?

The Egyptian political parties are locked in a deep-seated conflict that threatens to derail the fragile process of transition to democracy. In the bloody second anniversary of the Revolution -which has already caused more than 50 dead- the hope and excitement that the rebellion brought has long faded away. It fact, it only lasted a few weeks.

The unity of the opposition parties unraveled as soon as their political interest started to clash. Many set that moment in the process of drafting the constitutional declaration that was put to a popular referendum on 19th March 2011. The Islamist, led by the Muslim Brotherhood wanted to celebrate elections first, and then elaborate the new Constitution, since the hoped to sweep in the polls, as it happened.

On the contrary, the secular movements and personalities preferred to approve a Constitution drafted by a committee representing all sectors of society first, and later on, to organize the elections. They argued that new parties were created and they required time to build their grass-roots organizations and be able to compete in the elections.

The Military Junta that ran the country after Mubarak’s dismissal opted to lean on the Brotherhood, setting a tacit alliance between the army and the Islamist movement that has been kept ever since with only some specific and minor disagreements.

Since then, the gap between most secular and Islamist forces -especially the Brotherhood- has been growing progressively. The distrust between them has reached a level where it seems impossible that they even sit around a table to discuss the future of the country. Both suspect that every move of the other one is aimed at undermining its strength and popularity.

This is why despite the severe crisis the country is facing, they have not been talking to each other, not to mention agreeing on anything. This situation is concerning and represents a real threat not only to Egypt’s stability, but the success of its transition to democracy.

In addition to the open wounds of the Port Said massacre of last year, one of the underlying reasons of the current violence is the rejection of the way the Muslim Brotherhood is running the country by a large part of the Egyptian society.

The situation requires a deep change in the attitude of the main political parties and leaders. A real U-turn in the dynamic of this turbulent transition. The Muslim Brotherhood must realize that it can’t govern Egypt alone and against a large part of its social fabric. The opposition must renounce its efforts to unseat Morse before the end of its mandate, in 2016.

Insisting on pursuing the current path, may bring about temporary and Phyrric victories for both, but also a lot of pain and defeats to Egypt. Violence and vengeance could engulf the country in a civil confrontation, while the economy is on the brink of collapse. Secular and Islamist are all in the same boat, and may well sink in it. Will they realize it on time?

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