A Light Fails in Egypt. By Walter Russell Mead. Via Meadia, June 29, 2013.
Is Egypt’s revolution falling apart? Clashes between anti-government protestors and Muslim Brotherhood supporters turned deadly yesterday, leaving at least three—including an American college student—dead. These clashes come ahead of massive country-wide demonstrations against President Morsi scheduled for Sunday. The NYT reports that on-the-ground forces are even speaking of a civil war:
The use of firearms is becoming more common on all sides. Secular activists who once chanted, “peaceful, peaceful,” now joke darkly about the inevitability of violence: “Peaceful is dead.”
It’s hard for the American press to wrap its head around what’s happening in Egypt. The Western media instinctively wants to view the conflict as Islamists vs. secularists or liberals, with the future of democracy at stake. The reality is both darker and more complicated, but at best only a handful journalists have the intellectual chops to make sense of this picture, or the writing ability to help American readers understand a reality so different from our own experience here at home.…Egypt’s most respected Muslim cleric warned in a statement this weekend of potential “civil war.”
After two years of watching politicians on both sides of the fence squabble and prevaricate and fail to improve their lives, Egyptians appear to be rejecting representative democracy, without having had much of a chance to participate in it. In a country with an increasingly repressive regime and no democratic culture to draw on, protest has become an end in itself—more satisfying than the hard work of governance, organizing, and negotiation. This is politics as emotional catharsis, a way to register rage and frustration without getting involved in the system.
It would be a mistake to attribute the ineffectiveness of Egypt’s opposition to the purely personal failings and intellectual blind spots of the people currently prominent in its ranks. We are looking at something more deeply rooted and harder to fix. An intense rage and dissatisfaction with the status quo without any idea in the world how to make anything better: this is the typical condition of revolutionary movements in countries without a history of effective governance or successful development. It is also often typical of political movements in countries dominated by a youth bulge. The unhappiest countries are the places where this large youth bulge comes up against failed governance and curdled hope. Think Pakistan, where a comprehensive failure of civil and military leadership is turning one of the world’s most beautiful countries into one of its most miserable ones.
Islamism in its various forms is the sole candidate in Egypt for an ideological alternative to the corpse of Nasserist nationalism; it has sold itself to the masses as the once-rejected rival to nationalism whose time has finally come. For decades, often under conditions of persecution and repression, the Muslim Brotherhood and similar movements demonstrated an idealism and a public spirit that the corrupt heirs of Nasser could not match. They operated soup kitchens for the poor; they offered young people patronage and improved educational access. Building on centuries of national tradition and religious aspiration, they developed a comprehensive, all-embracing world view that offered, or appeared to offer, answers to the three great problems of Egypt’s youthful population.
Egypt’s Petition Rebellion. By Leslie T. Chang. The New Yorker, June 28, 2013.
Egypt: Protesters Gather Nationwide To Demand Morsi’s Ouster. By Hamza Hendawi. AP. The Huffington Post, June 30, 2013.
Andrew Pochter, RIP. By Walter Russell Mead, Bryn Stole, and Jeremy Stern. Via Meadia, June 30, 2013.
American killed in Egypt, US warns against travel there. FoxNews.com, June 29, 2013.
U.S. Student Killed in Egypt Protest Was Drawn to a Region in Upheaval. By Ravi Somaiya and Erin Banco. New York Times, June 29, 2013.
For Egypt’s Liberals, Noise Doesn’t Equal Power. By Fouad Ajami. Real Clear Politics, June 28, 2013.
The Brotherhood’s stock in trade was conspiracy and a willingness to dodge mighty storms. It had waited out the protests of Tahrir Square. Those 18 magical days in 2011 that captivated outsiders and gave back Egyptians a measure of political efficacy and dignity were the work of secular liberals, Christian Copts, young men and those daring women who defied custom and tradition to come out in the public square.
Egypt Braces For a Fight. By Mike Giglio. The Daily Beast, June 28, 2013.
Be inclusive, Morsi, or you may face a second Egyptian revolution. By David A. Super. The Christian Science Monitor, June 28, 2013.
Will it take a second revolution to complete Egypt’s democratic transition? Anti-government protesters plan to turn out in massive numbers Sunday. President Mohamed Morsi should heed cries for more inclusiveness. Otherwise, he may find himself toppled like Mubarak.
The Egyptian State Unravels. By Mara Revkin. Foreign Affairs, June 27, 2013.
Gangs and vigilantes thrive under Morsi.
Mohamed Morsi has turned his back on Egypt’s revolution. By Sara Khorshid. The Guardian, June 27, 2013.
The president is failing to deliver on his promises, and Egyptians are growing angry with the Muslim Brotherhood.
Is a Second Revolution Really What Egypt Needs? By Shadi Hamid. The Atlantic, June 27, 2013.
President Morsi suffers from a “legitimacy deficit,” but will opposition groups gain anything from trying to oust him on Sunday?
In Egypt, Skepticism Over Religion in Politics. By Maggie Michael. Associated Press, June 27, 2013.
Egyptian Politics: Beyond the Brotherhood. By Walter Russell Mead. Via Meadia, June 26, 2013.
“You Can’t Eat Sharia.” By Mohammed ElBaradei. Foreign Policy, July/August 2013.
Egypt is on the brink – not of something better than the old Mubarak dictatorship, but of something even worse.
Egyptians must not let their country descend into chaos. By Wadah Khanfar. The Guardian, June 25, 2013.
President Morsi has made mistakes – but Egypt’s opposition, by aligning with former regime members, is sidelining democracy.
Egypt Will Erupt Again on June 30. By Eric Trager. The New Republic, June 24, 2013.
Egypt’s youth are still clinging to the 2011 revolution. By Andrew Doran. Jerusalem Post, June 22, 2013.