It’s either Morsi or Military — M D Nalapat

Friday, August 02, 2013 – Policymakers in both the US as well as the EU specialise in suggesting “remedies” for other countries that they would be horrified to accept for themselves. Generally, the closer a country’s ruling elite hews to advice from Washington or the gaggle of voices headquartered in Brussels, the quicker will be that country’s descent into chaos.

An example is the suggestion, expressed most recently by Catherine Ashton, that the post-Morsi dispensation in Egypt should include a sizeable component of the Muslim Brotherhood, if not Mohammad Morsi himself. Such is the line peddled by Washington, London, Paris and other enlightened capitals of the world. Assuming that the military in Egypt ignored the experience of decades of the toxic nature of following NATO-bloc advice and inserted the Muslim Brotherhood back into the governance structures of Egypt,the result would be chaos.

From the start, the Brotherhood will seek to sabotage the functioning of the successor government, in order to create enough confusion and chaos to persuade the people of Egypt to once again erupt onto the streets of Cairo and Alexandria, this time to demand the return on Morsi rather than his overthrow. To yoke groups with completely clashing visions and goals onto the same team would be to invite disaster, yet this is precisely what the NATO bloc is advocating that its “friends” in Egypt do

The next time President Obama or his surrogates call General El Sissi and ask that the Muslim Brotherhood be brought back into power in a substantial way,the general needs to give some advice of his own. Why not President Obama induct the Tea Party group within the Republican Party into his administration? Or better still, the extreme fringe?

After all, “inclusivity” is what Washington is asking Cairo to do, even if this means empowering those with a vested interest in ensuring that those who invite them in fail miserably. Barack Obamaknows that the Tea Party and groups even more to the right than that group will work relentlessly at enginnering his downfall, together with that of his associates.Why then would he empower them by bringing them into what has been described as the “cool shade of government”?

Those who ask President Obama to induct his bitterest ideological foes into his team would be called crazy, yet those within the NATO bloc who ask of the authorities in Cairo that they do precisely that consider themselves to be so well-endowed with intellect that they can solve the world’s problems, if only their advice was swallowed undiluted. Across the Middle East,the wounds and scars inflicted on countries and societies that have uncritically accepted the policies urged on them by the NATO bloc are a reminder of the toxicity of such a course. If India is still partially viable, it is because groups within both government and civil society have managed to ensure significant dilution of the medicine prescribed by NATO-bloc powers, medicine that the bloc would consider insane to swallow if they were to follow the same line of

action suggested for others.

Not that there is any consistency in such policies. No suggestion has thus far been made to the rulers within the GCC that they make their administrative structures more inclusive by inducting into high positions those from the rest of society, including the many opposed to their rule as fiercely as the Muslim Brotherhood is opposed to the setup created by General Abdul Fattah El Sissi in Egypt. And while Washington has since 2007 been vocal to Bagdad about the need to ensure justice to the Sunnis (whose territory has very little oil), similar concern has never been demonstrated over the plight of Shia in Bahrain. In the case of Egypt, the military and Morsi have very different objectives. The former would like to preserve the heterogenous culture of Egypt, where Coptic Christians account for more than a tenth of the population. The literature of the Muslim Brotherhood across the years has not hidden their intention to ensure that the country come under (its own interpretation of) Sharia law.

Egypt is heavily reliant on the tourism industry, and were alcohol and nightlife to be banned the way almost all Brotherhood tracts argue they must be, that industry would decline to almost zero. Indeed, tourism revenue has indeed fallen sharply during the year that Mohammad Morsi has been in power, clearly a factor in the mobilisation of so many ordinary Egyptians against his regime. Only Samantha Power – who has also been vocal in arguing that more deadly weapons supplied to shadowy entities are the only way to save lives in Syria – will believe that the brotherhood will not attempt from the inside to stymie the pro-secular groups backed by El Sissi but will act in a cooperative way to give Egypt the good governance that they did not even attemptto do during their year in office. That period was spent in replacing secular individuals in top positions with elements of the Brotherhood.

Will General El Sissi listen to the John Kerrys and the Catherine Ashtons and bring back the Brotherhood into the structures of governance? Should he do so,there will disappear the only chance he has of establishing normalcy, which is to give the newly-appointed caretaker government the powers and the cohesion needed to bring Egypt back from the chaos of the past two years. General El Sissi already made a huge error when he denied the Prime Ministership to the superbly qualified former IAEA Chairman Mohammad El Baradei. His country cannot afford another.

—The writer is Vice-Chair, Manipal Advanced Research Group, UNESCO Peace Chair & Professor of Geopolitics, Manipal University, Haryana State, India.

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