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Monday, April 15, 2024

The election in Egypt: a bitter pill to swallow

By Ardain Isma

CSMS Magazine Staff Writer

News Analysis

As Egyptians head to the polls this Sunday, the world waits to see who the winner will be. However, among the vast majority of the country’s 81 million souls, there is little doubt no matter who wins, the plight of more than 50 million Egyptians currently living in abject poverty will remain definitely unchanged. Although, Egypt was the first country to follow Tunisia’s footsteps by overthrowing Mubarak in a popular uprising 18 months ago, the results were not different than in Tunisia. Mubarak was done away, but his old regime remain firmly entrenched, shunning the sacrifices made by those who gave up their precious lives during the popular upheaval and dashing the hope of the living who have been demanding nothing more than a fair distribution of the country’s wealth.

In Egypt, just as in the rest of the Middle East, political power could only be attained through the barrel of a gun, and those who hold the guns are the mortal enemies of the exploited, disenfranchised masses. The two candidates in this runoff election are the best examples of what the antithesis of a popular grievance could be. Ahmed Shafiq is a former protégé of Omar Suleiman who is considered to be one of the most powerful players within the Egyptian military government.

Mohammed Mursi is the other candidate running under the banner of the Muslim Brotherhood, a religious organization seen by many as one the Egyptian army’s stooges since the Brothers’ victory during the last parliamentary elections. Other candidates were forced out of the process either by threats or through “legal” means. What happened last Thursday left no doubt in the minds of many observers that the Western powers through their cronies will never willingly relinquish their influences as well as their strategic interests in Egypt.

A coup engineered by Omar Suleiman and Marshall Tantawi

On Thursday, the country’s Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) found the parliamentary electoral law unconstitutional, dissolved the parliament. Shortly thereafter, the junta headed by Field Marshall Mohamed Hussein Tantawi tightened security in and around Cairo while security forces seized the parliament building and barred lawmakers from entering. In another move to snatch away any traces of doubt still remain in the minds of the gullible who still dream of an elusive, illusory democracy in Egypt, Tantawi announced he would dissolve the constituent assembly, which was elected by the parliament on Tuesday. Tantawi also plans to issue a constitutional decree, unilaterally determining the composition of the new assembly and outlining the powers of the new president.

In classic political interpretations, what took place last Thursday was nothing but a coup blatantly carried by the same military that once claimed to have championed the democratic transition in the country. Immediately after these provocative moves, thousands descended to the streets in protest. Their cries have fallen in deaf ears, lost into a shameful oblivion.

No alarm bells were rung from Paris, London and Washington. The stake would be too high to let Egypt go—the country that controls the Suez Canal, through which two-third of commercial activities going to and from the Middle East and the horn of Africa passes. Thomas Mountain, journalist for the Independent based in London is unequivocally adamant about this fact. “One hundred billion dollars have already been spent by the Western powers, mainly the US, on the Egyptian military in which the core of its officers are proxies of foreign powers. No petty democracy will stand in the way of this lucrative investment, for the Egyptian military is the wealthiest institution in the country,” Mountain said on RT, a Russian 24-hours cable news network.

Instead of denouncing the coup, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tried last week to divert the attention elsewhere by accusing Russia “of having sent a navy ship off the coast of Syria carrying new helicopters for the Assad regime” as a strategic deterrent. Hillary Clinton then went on to issue some harsh words for Russia over its refusal to take tougher measures on Syria. But according to CBS News correspondent David Martin, Hillary’s diplomatic offensive “lost steam Thursday when the State Department acknowledged the helicopters she accused Moscow of sending were actually refurbished ones already owned by the Assad regime.”

The Arab Spring has turned out to be the biggest travesty so far of the 21st century Middle Eastern history. In Tunisia, the fight goes on after almost 2 years of desperate struggles for economic opportunity and better social conditions. In Libya, it was dirge. In Yemen as well as in Bahrain, it was hijacked by the Saudis. In Jordan, it was long forsaken. In Syria, strategic interests collide, where the Russians and the Chinese have drawn their lines in the sand: No future of Syria without Assad. In Egypt, it is a mirage. As Johannes Stern, contributor for the WS website sees it. “The generals are trying to create an atmosphere of unchallenged military authority and avoid a repetition of the situation in the early weeks of the revolution, when they felt they could not rely on the soldiers to obey orders to crush mass protests of the working class.”

No popular movement can be called a revolution unless it has the means to crush the established and corrupt state bureaucratic machine and supplant it by nationalist elements totally devoted to the welfare of their beloved country. Anything less than that will be just a charade designed to further the goal—in a camouflage way—of those who have been enriching themselves off the country’s resources over the destruction of the thoroughly exploited masses.

Note: Dr. Ardain Isma is the chief editor of CSMS Magazine. Also see: A New Phase in Crisis in Syria


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