Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Great Egyptian Faux Democracy

Mike L.

This is an email that I received from Stand for Israel:

We have, many times, said that it takes more than an election to be a democracy. Free, open elections are merely an expression of the will of the sovereign people. Democracies are a much bigger thing; they require institutions like a free press, independent judiciary, and others to actually function after the election night celebrations are over. It’s easy to start a democracy, much harder to keep one.

We have also, many times, said that Egypt is not a democracy. They’re a country that held a free, open election and – unfortunately – chose to elect the Muslim Brotherhood. The people of Egypt do not enjoy a free press. They do not enjoy an independent judiciary. Half of the population (the female half) does not enjoy basic civil liberties. There is rampant illiteracy (according to the CIA Factbook, more than one in four Egyptians age 10 and over cannot read or write) and growing food insecurity.

And the Muslim Brotherhood has demonstrated a number of times that it is not interested in maintaining a free society. Earlier this week, the Shura Council – the main Islamic legal body in Egypt – approved a new law that would severely restrict the right of the Egyptian people to protest. Protesters will need to notify police three days in advance of a protest larger than 20 people, and keep protests at least 600 feet from government offices (far enough away for the government to safely ignore them). The law imposes stiff fines and jail time for the non-specific crimes of “harming citizens’ interest” or “jeopardizing national security.”

In short, the Muslim Brotherhood is outlawing protest. Which is ironic, since the Muslim Brotherhood came to power following the popular uprising that ousted former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak. Democracies, it’s worth repeating, are more than the presence of a free election.
It should be noted that the Egyptian election which brought the Muslim Brotherhood to power, with a little help from their friend Barack Obama, was not "free and open."  Reportage that I have read suggests that the Copts were sometimes (often?) prevented from voting at the point of a rifle.

The single most under-reported story in the world today is the rise of political Islam throughout the Middle East and the role of the Obama administration in its assistance of that rise.  I am confident that future historians will look back on this moment and wonder how it is that Americans watched it without seeing it and saw it without speaking about it.

Syria is next.

1 comment:

  1. STRATFOR's Robert Kaplan, no particular friend of Israel

    Makes the point that the devil you know is better than the one you don't. That the bullies and tyrants that run police states are at least as predictable and reliable as anyone else. And that in and of itself is a 'good' for Israel. Israel doesn't have to work with them or save them. Israel merely has to not suffer from even worse consequences that arise out of chaos and anarchy. Yes, Assad is a nightmare. So what, he's their nightmare. Mumbarek was an authoritarian fist that ruled his country like he owned. Compared to this regime, that was not a bad thing.

    Do we care about how they self govern all that much? Do we worry that not enough purple fingers are making bad choices? Under Mubarek the incidence of female genital mutilation dropped 90%. I'd put that int the 'win' column even if criticizing the government would tend to make you disappear. After all, what were they criticizing the Egyptian government to DO? They were agitating for THIS. This right here. Since the 1950's Sayyid Qutb, the ideological engine of the Muslim Brotherhood was a thorn in Egyptian leaders sides. Nasser had him jailed and eventually hanged. The Brotherhood killed Sadat. The Brotherhood formed Hamas. These the people who Egypt 'voted' for, whatever that means.

    So democracy? Who cares. The Axiom of Rule in Arab countries is one man one vote one time. And Iraq did it, Syria did it, Egypt did it, Libya sort of did it. Now seemingly Tunisia is on that path. The fundamentalist parties there are pushing for an Egyptian styled rule as well. And the PLO had an election once. About 9 years ago. Similarly Hamas held a vote. While they were killing political opponents in full view of the 'electorate'. The Lebanese granted free elections to Hezbollah and they got....Hezbollah. In Iran the "Green Revolution" was met with government killings. One rare exception to the rule is Algeria. Their elections in the early 1990's resulted in a stalemate between the fundamentalists and the government in place. It took a low level civil war of about 150,000 dead to settle it and drive out the fundamentalists. Now unsurprising they have fairly functioning elections and more or less a modern rule of law. Because you don't vote fanatics out of office. You have to kill them. This is the lesson they are painfully learning in Mali. You kill them. Kill them all. Then and only then when you've disinfected the country you can claim to have the underpinnings of civilization capable of functioning like a modern democratic state.

    Egypt? Egypt is on borrowed time. There will be famines by June. Then Egyptians won't care about purple fingers anymore.