Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood were bad for Egypt. The military’s coup, however, is even worse.
Protesters began to enter the streets June 30, the anniversary of Morsi’s inauguration, which marked the general rise of the Muslim Brotherhood within Egyptian politics. Indeed, there was still much to be upset about: few within the previous regime were punished for rampant corruption, deteriorating economic conditions and rising inflation that made daily expenses nearly impossible to afford. Steep youth unemployment not only infuriated a restless demographic but also reared its ugly head in the form of increased rates of crime and violence.
As for Morsi himself, with a tendency to lean toward more authoritarian measures when policies were unpopular, he had even gotten into the ugly habit of sending the military after pro-democracy nongovernmental organizations and independent news sources, a habit all too familiar for those who had lived decades of oppression under Hosni Mubarak.
Thus, such protests initially represented an actual success of the democratic process, mainly that people felt they had the freedom to publicly and vocally criticize a government that had, by most measures, been failing its constituents. The protests, however, led to a far uglier outcome: the coup. Sensing discontent and the opportunity to seize power once again, the military gave an ultimatum to Morsi, and a couple days later, the military found itself in control again.
While there are many Coptic Christians and more secular individuals who are excited and joyous for the coup, believing that this coup was the right move would be a mistake. Morsi had performed poorly as president, yet in the end, he did not violate his office. His belligerent behavior, while morally reprehensible, was allowed under the constitution, and many of the complaints presented before the Brotherhood were about issues that had long existed. Morsi did not destroy the economy: Mubarak and the turbulent revolution had beaten him to it. As for not punishing many of the corrupt military personalities, it was somewhat expected in order to keep peace between the civilian government and the military.
The military has now suspended the constitution and has tried to assure everyone that elections will be held again in the near future. Yet what good will these elections even be if the military can simply remove any president or party that it doesn’t like? Will Egypt move from a military autocratic rule to a military-approved party rule? This is not progress; it’s the trampling of democracy masked as the triumph of pluralism.
The United States can and should do something about it. For one, call it what it is: a coup. Stop dancing around the subject and officially declare the events a military coup, for anything else would make a mockery of both the rule of law and our international reputation. By doing this, we can also cut off our military aid package of an annual $1.6 billion, a great way to try and push the military into, ideally, reinstating Morsi into power, but more realistically to set a date for the election as soon as possible. A long-sighted plan to resolve this issue, however, would be to create a new aid package. This foreign aid would not be military-related but would rather be used to assist the civilian government and pro-democracy NGOs, strengthening their resolve and presence within the power dynamics of Egypt.
This coup represents a tragedy to the democratization of Egypt. Let us not just accept this tragedy and move on. The Obama administration should declare these events a coup. If we cannot stand strong to Egypt, then why should others, including Iran and Pakistan, fear us?
Cliff Drake is a junior double-majoring in International Economics and Political Science. He can be contacted at [email protected].