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Egyptian military wants end of Islamists

Egyptian military wants end of Islamists

A boy runs through the burnt out Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque in Cairo on Aug. 15, 2013. (AP photo)

This is a translation from the Portuguese of my O Globo column, which was published on August 23, 2013:

With the crushing of the Brotherhood, a government made up of civilians will be elected, but with the military controlling everything from behind the curtains


The massacre of at least 900 pro-Mursi protesters  and more than 4,000 injured on the 13th and 14th of August, when police forces and the Egyptian army attacked the Rabaa al- Adawiya mosque and Nahda Square in Cairo, the military coup leaders made it clear that they want to end the Muslim Brotherhood. The possibility of a political settlement to bring the country out of its grave impasse was shrinking with every machine gun shot in the head or heart of a protester, who mostly had only stones as weapons.

Several mosques were soon crowded with the bodies of state violence against protesters; all wrapped in white, blood-stained sheets, their relatives putting ice packs on top to try to slow the inevitable decay. These were perhaps the most violent and fatal two days in the modern history of Egypt. Surely a large part of the Egyptian population, tired of the protesters’ camps, celebrated the end of that daily hassle of having to get by the encampments. But at what cost? On August 16 the interim prime minister, Hazem el-Beblawi, proposed that the Brotherhood be banned again, and said the government was studying the possibility.

The interim vice president, Mohammed el-Baradei, who was seen as the most liberal of figures who supported the military coup of June 30, resigned his post on August 14 in protest against the excessive use of force by the military and high number of deaths. “I cannot take responsibility for a drop of blood,” he wrote in his resignation letter.

The military are now doing everything to demoralize the Brothers and their supporters, calling the pro-Mursi supporters “terrorists”, and forcing relatives of protesters killed in clashes with security forces to record their deaths as suicides. The supreme guide of the Brotherhood, Mohammed Badie, was arrested on August 20, and he, Mursi, Khairat Shater and two leaders of the Brotherhood will be tried on charges of murder, incitement to revolt and other equally ridiculous claims.

To further sharpen the polarization, Saudi Arabia announced financial support for the new regime Egyptian military regime to the tune of $ 12 billion, coming from it, the UAE and Kuwait. The U.S. has so far not called the coup a “coup”, U.S. President Barack Obama performing verbal gymnastics not to mention the dreaded word. The reason given is because Americans do not want to be forced to cancel military aid of $ 1.3 billion a year that the US gives to the Egyptians. For now, Americans say that military aid is suspended, although there is no transaction taking place at the moment with Egypt.

Why this billion dollar aid from the Gulf states? The answer is simple: none of the royal families in power in these countries like the discourse of the Brotherhood, which mixes politics with religion in a way – until recently – so successfully. The Saudi royal family, in particular, has ruled Saudi Arabia since its founding in 1932 by an agreement with its religious establishment, and so has seen the Brotherhood for decades with fear and awe. Gulf leaders do not want to have a model Islamic democracy to compete with their autocratic governments, much less in a country so close by, just across the Red Sea.

The errors of the Brotherhood were many. The Economist points as a fatal failure the fact that the Brotherhood only made efforts to reach out to the military during the year in which Mursi ruled as president, completely ignoring the non-Islamist political forces. The military took advantage of that, but never ceased to represent the political and economic forces in the years that Hosni Mubarak ruled as president. In fact, after 30 years of Mubarak in power, the revolution of 2011 that overthrew the dictator left in place thousands of employees in the courts and the Ministry of Interior, faithful to what he represents and deeply opposed to the Brotherhood.

With a court in Cairo authorizing the release of Mubarak, supposedly because there is no legal basis for him to continue in prison, we seem to be having a flashback. Certainly, Mubarak will never rule Egypt again, but it is clear that full democracy will also not be established. With the crushing of the Brotherhood, a government made up of civilians will be elected, but with the military controlling everything from behind the scenes.

Estimates suggest that 30% of Egyptians still support the Brotherhood. This is not a majority, but it is still a significant proportion. To try to be a new government that represents all Egyptians, the military will have to include representatives of the Brotherhood. It will be difficult after the killing, the imprisonment and the demonization of members of Brotherhood, and I do not think the military are willing to do this.

Link to original column:  http://glo.bo/13WroP3