Tuesday, September 3, 2013


By Ghassan Kadi
July 2013

 The West seems to be at loss not knowing how to deal with the growing element of unknown in Egypt. It also seems that even though when Obama asked Morsi, a few days before he was set aside, that he should respond to the will of the people, Obama now did not seem to have meant that Morsi should have resigned let alone resign to real will of the people. This makes one wonders what did Obama truly mean as on one hand he seemed to have abandoned Morsi, but on the other hand, he is not endorsing his removal either.

The West finds it very difficult to condone the toppling of a so-called “democratically-elected President”.

This however begs a pertinent technical question. How does the West define the democratic process?

Elections at best reflect the peoples’ choice at the moment of casting their ballot in the ballot box. A big percentage of voters, the loyal voters, are normally indoctrinated and will not be swayed to vote one way against their tradition. In any democratic election, it is the swinging voters that major parties try to canvass. Some of those swinging voters change their view so often that they finally decide to vote one way or another a few minutes before they cast their vote, and a few minutes after voting, they may “realize” they have taken the “wrong” decision. Furthermore, in Western countries, opinion polls often show that the majority are against their government.

Fairly often, the so-called democratic choice at elections time is a revolving door, and the legitimacy of the democratic legitimacy becomes in doubt; not perhaps from the legal point of view, but from point of view of representing the majority. What is it that the electoral decision that is based on a frozen opinion image is to be seen as the only criterion? One would wonder.

If we take away from democracy representing the majority, all there is left is the process and civil laws of its implementation. This begs another pertinent question; what is the Holy Grail, the principles of democracy or the electoral laws?

In the year 2000 an election was won by meager 537 votes out of nearly 210 million eligible voters, when only 105 million of whom showed up on election day. The country is the United States and the President is George W. Bush.

With 537 votes, the democratic system gave Bush a mandate to invade 2 countries. With all that has been said and done in relation to Bush’s war adventures, the question of his presidential legitimacy was never raised. It was taken for granted.

Yet ironically, when over 30 million Egyptians took to the streets, their right to demonstrate was seen as legitimate, but toppling their President was seen as a breach of democracy.

The West needs to realize and understand that Morsi has insidiously hijacked the 25 January 2011 Egyptian Revolution. The youths who took to the streets in January 2011 were not associated with Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood (MB). The MB opted to stay put as they realized that Mubarak was on his way down. They did not want to surface, because they knew that if they did, the world opinion could have taken a shift against the revolution. Their plan was to wait for Mubarak to fall before they jump in, and then come out to grab on the achievements.

When the elections took place later on, the MB were the only political power that had an infra-structure and political experience. After all, they had been around on the Egyptian political scene for over 8 decades.

Even Ahmad Shafic, who received 48% of the votes as against the 51% that put Morsi in office, was not truly a representative of the youths of the revolution. He was a part of the old regime, but he did manage to capitalize, though not successfully, on the anti-MB vote.

Soon after his win, Morsi gave himself unlimited power. Riots descended and this constitutional change was endorsed by a referendum that the opposition had no more chance to win than the previous presidential election.

In essence, Morsi has betrayed the spirit of the revolution that won him office. But this is not all. He raised more concerns about the future of Christianity and Coptic Christians in Egypt. Even though he has good “brotherhood” ties with the Hamas religious leadership in Gaza, the clamped down on the crossings and destroyed tunnels that meant the life-blood to the armed resistance within Gaza. He severed ties with Syria. He wrote to Israeli President Perez calling him a dear friend, and the list goes on and on.

Whilst to the West, the above policies could mean a mild non-confrontational approach to the Arab Israeli conflict, to the masses, those actions bolstered Egypt’s western puppet statehood and did not restore its former glory as the Revolution was meant to achieve.

Furthermore, the regional politics he implemented and which had a soft non-confrontation approach, and which sit well with Western agendas, was not mirrored domestically. He was quickly and surely moving Egypt into a Sharia law state.

In reality, Egypt is a country with a multitude of huge problems; over-population, endemic corruption, low work ethics, poor hygiene, collapsed infra-structures, etc… and it would take a miracle, not a presidential change to rectify this.

Whilst much is expected of him, more than any President can achieve, in reality, Morsi only managed to please and appease his MB followers and supporters. One year into his presidency, there was an overwhelming majority that wanted him down. If this is not democracy in action, democracy that speaks much louder and clearer than casting votes in ballot boxes, what is?

A similar, but yet different form of true democracy, is one that is now seen, but not remains to be acknowledged, by the whole world in Syria.

The West needs to understand that its system of democracy is not the only one. President Assad was not elected by his people in the same manner that Western elections are conducted. This is true. However, two and a half years into the war and counting, his army is united behind him and so are his people. Once again, if this is not a reflection of the will of the majority, what is? Are there decisions that people make that are more pertinent than the ones that choose either life or death?

Before Western politicians crow about the “undemocratic” removal of Morsi, they should perhaps have a better look at the “democratic” process that has put them and keeps them in office.

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