July 5, 2013

JUST A MATTER OF HOW LONG:

Egypt's misguided coup (Jackson Diehl, July 4, 2013, Washington Post)

Once in office, new governments made up almost entirely of novice officials frequently overreach. They battle with the old establishment in the bureaucracy, judiciary and media. They write new constitutions in an attempt to lock in their electoral advantage. They tread on civil liberties. And, more often than not, they badly mismanage the economy by adopting populist measures that cater to their political bases.

In those respects, the government of Mohamed Morsi differed little from those of Juan Perón in Argentina, Hugo Chávez in Venezuela or Thaksin Shinawatra in Thailand. However, its excesses fell well short of those of Chávez, or Chile's Salvador Allende; unlike Shinawatra or Perón, Morsi did not set up militias or establish death squads. Although his government failed to compromise with opponents and sought to concentrate its power, it made only modest attempts to impose its Islamic ideology on the country and did not seek to alter Egypt's capitalist economy, which was slowly sinking but not imploding. It preserved crucial foreign relationships with the United States and Israel.

Cairo's secular middle class consequently had far less cause to take to the streets last weekend than did the pot-bangers in Allende's Chile, the general strikers of Caracas or the yellow shirts of Bangkok. They can, however, expect much the same results -- which will be anything but the liberal democracy they say they support. [...]

The worst-case scenario for Egypt is that the Islamists, like those of Algeria after its 1992 coup, go underground and to war. Less likely but still possible, the Muslim Brotherhood will amass enough support to march right back into power, as did Venezuela's Chávez in 2002.

More likely, Egypt's Islamists -- including salafists who are far more radical than the ousted government -- will bide their time, reorganize, reap the political benefits of the coming chaos and eventually win new elections, as Thaksin's redshirts, the Islamists of Turkey, Argentina's Peronists and Chile's socialists did. If he leaves the country, Morsi might get a pep talk from Pakistan's prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, who just returned to office 14 years after the coup against him; the general who led it is under arrest.
Posted by at July 5, 2013 4:51 AM
  
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