Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Coup, coup, ca-choo

Morsi is out as President of Egypt. Elected to the office in June of 2012, following months of military rule after the revolution of 2011 that saw the end of Mubarak's own authoritarian rule, Morsi had begun amassing more and more power via fiat, angering much of the Egyptian population who feared he was returning Egypt to the Mubarak era, though under the guise of democracy. The military has once again assumed control of the nation.

And interestingly enough, the military has pledged to allow the head of Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court--one Adly Mansour--to act as interim President, though the Egyptian constitution has been suspended indefinitely.

Who is Adly Mansour? Few in the West have a clue, I'll wager, including many of the "experts" in the media. Al Jazeera has a short biography on him, which seems to be accurate though lacking in specifics. Mansour has served in the Egyptian court system since 1992, though he became head of the Supreme Constitutional Court just a few days ago, having been appointed to the post back in May by Morsi himself. And that, in and of itself, should give us pause. Mansour served under Mubarak before the revolution and managed to remain in his position afterwards. This suggests either a fair man who doesn't make waves or one capable of currying favor. Or both.

The question is, what will he do?

There is hope that he will immediately dissolve Egypt's Shura Council, the upper house of the legislature, which had been stacked with Islamists by Morsi. Many non-Islamist members of the council have already resigned. But as the Al Jazeera piece notes, Mansour has served in the religious courts in Egypt, as well as the legislative and criminal ones. And again Morsi elevated him to the top position of the SCC just recently, suggesting he shared Morsi's fundamental beliefs--when it came to the future of Egypt--at the very least. And make no mistake, he may be the interim  president, but the Egyptian military is still holding all of the cards.

Which in a way makes the question kind of moot. Mansour will do what the military wants him to do. After the 2011 revolution, the Egyptian military actually did something uncommon, when it comes to military coups: it surrendered power willingly in just the manner its leadership claimed it would. And maybe it will do the same thing again. Maybe.

Or maybe not.

Even if another democratically elected government is installed in Egypt in the near future, even if the military surrenders control and pledges allegiance to the new leadership, what does this mean in the long term? Not much, for Egypt's future remains tied to its armed forces. If the new government disappoints like the previous one, it seems almost a given that the military will repeat its actions. A new government every two or three years, maybe a new constitution too, that looks to be Egypt's future.

Meanwhile, Egypt's economy remains in turmoil. It is being kept afloat by loans from other nations, it's total debt is growing exponentially, and the ranks of the poor have increased drastically since the ousting of Mubarak in 2011. What does Mansour and the Egyptian military bring to the table in this regard? Very little. The IMF may be conned into floating Egypt another loan, but that's a mere band-aid.

Egyptian food and energy costs are heavily subsidized, a common practice in authoritarian regimes but not so much in democratic ones, and this is the underlying problem with the Egyptian economy: it remains as it was under Mubarak and before, there has been no change where change is truly needed.

I visited Egypt in 2008, years before the Arab Spring. And the mandated calm of Mubarak's rule served the nation well, when it came to tourist monies and foreign investment. But Egypt is no longer benefiting from such things as it was under Mubarak. There is too much uncertainty. Mubarak's ouster may have been a good thing, Morsi may have been going in the wrong direction, but the military is exacerbating the problem of uncertainty by arbitrarily dismantling the government, based on popular opinion. The new iteration of the Egyptian government will have an even deeper hole--economically speaking--to climb out of than did Morsi's government. And there's no reason to suspect it will be able to make the climb.

More turmoil awaits.

Cheers, all.


  1. A few good pieces on Egypt just before the coup

    Spengler, of course, had been talking about the dire situation in Egypt and the imminent economic collapse long before the msm noticed something was wrong. He also thinks that neother Syria nor Egypt can be fixed

  2. NP.
    Here is another one

    And one if you want ot experience de ja vu

    Happy 4th of July