This post is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.
Mohamed Morsi is out. Egypt’s revolution is over. The army has returned. Did it ever leave?
With Morsi deposed, the halcyon days of Hosni Mubarak’s ouster are long past – even if the time frame is short.
The Arab Spring has devolved into coup d’états and civil wars. International intrigue is the name of the game.
For the most part, political leaders are front men. The elite need someone to carry water for them.
Elites don’t go quietly into the night. Though they change water carriers when necessary, they do so strategically. Democracy has its limits in Egypt and everywhere else in the world.
Did anyone think that the Islamic Brotherhood would do anything other than what it had pledged to do for so many years? Do those celebrating Morsi’s removal believe that the military has the interest of the nation solely at heart?
The excitement around Mubarak’s fall from power was too easy, naïve and shortsighted. The celebration of Morsi’s ouster is likewise too easy, naïve and shortsighted.
With regard to Israel, those who hoped for a hard line from a more authentic Egyptian political voice missed the American fault line in the sand. Nor does Egypt have an appetite for getting tough on Israel. Israel is being integrated into the Middle East security zone for unreconstructed monarchs, oligarchs and dictators – exactly the zone where Egypt finds itself.
Without American aid and weapons, Egypt’s army would be unable to feed its voracious appetite for economic and political power. The price for the maintenance of the army’s establishment is high, however. Not only do they have to maintain Egypt’s societal order, the army has to maintain a foreign policy that respects the wishes of America and its allies in the region.
Stepping out of bounds means penalties Egypt’s army is unwilling to absorb. Without American aid and regional legitimacy, Egypt’s Generals might be the next ones thrown to the Egyptian curb. They don’t want to be hanging out with Mubarak and Morsi.
Yet if anyone thinks Egypt’s turmoil is solely an American invention, they should think again. Egypt and the Middle East ruling classes have their own self-interest to protect. Looking outside for the culprit simply delays the reckoning necessary to break the cycle that is devouring the future.
What lies ahead for Egypt? A decade of finding its way if, indeed, a way can be found.
The Middle East is in turmoil. Spring has past.