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On the situation in Egypt: an insider’s viewpoint

Friday 12 July 2013, by siawi3

Helmi Sharawy

2013-07-10, Issue 638


In essence, what we had witnessed on 30 June 2013 in Egypt was the ordinary people’s revolution against the Islamists governance that had dismantled their lives for the interests of the West

Dear Friends,

These words are part of discussions with friends in some African institutions and abroad relevant to the Western capitalist media’s categorization of Egyptian popular movement as a military coup. I am writing this letter after having returned very tired from Tahrir Square in support of the change. I wrote to my friends:

I am still surprised that you are following the news from Obama and conservative sources on the western side who were and are still interested in supporting Islamist groups in Egypt. We know that the USA has used Islamists in Afghanistan, Libya and Syria as well as for their strategy in the Middle East to protect Israel and oil fields. There was no economic development since Morsi came to power. Moreover, poverty was exacerbated because Islamists were preparing to accept the economic reforms dictated by the IMF.


These crises and others political issues had mobilized more than 20 million people to sign a petition to delegitimize the government of President Morsi. The organizing group of the campaign is called Tamarod (Rebel). They were able to mobilize people mostly throughout the month of June, and on 30 June at Tahrir and other squares and streets of the cities of Egypt, they were able to repeat the Revolution and recalled the memory of 25 January 2011, the beginning of the Revolution; here again they said a big NO to Islamists.
After the meetings between the Tamarod Group and political and civil society organizations, all united to call for the end of Morsi’s legitimacy. The supreme Military Command of Egypt sent a short notice after the mass protests of 30 June. I repeat, it was after 30 June that the supreme military command announced that it will defend the people’s demands because the President has failed to listen. (This must be admitted, it is gracious and legal for any national military to ask the president to listen to the people!)


The decisive announcement was declared on 4 July in a meeting attended by representatives of the political alliance headed by Dr. Baradei, Al-Azhar University, the Pope of the Egyptian Coptic community, Tamarod activists, women representatives, an Islamist party representative from Al Nour and top military officers. In this context, can someone claim this to be a planned military coup? All attendees agreed to form a democratic government admitting that the current regime has failed the aspirations and inspiration of the January 2011 Revolution; they all committed to establishing a Constitution, interim presidency, and prepare for free and fair elections.
We should not forget that global capitalism and the US need the Islamists in the Middle East, and certainly the Western media is working well to serve this purpose!


We can’t forget African peoples in Mali, Ghana, Tanzania, and etc. in their democratic transitions of 1991/1992: there were popular movements, problematic changes and sometimes even appeals to the national military to serve as a buffer-zone. And we called those processes an acceptable democratization model. We should not also forget that the western global machines can do many things to dismantle the original agenda of these liberation movements of the masses in Africa (Mali, Benin, and Madagascar as examples). The West, as we have witnessed before, does use IMF loans, World Bank programs etc. for its purposes and does not often denounce military intervention in developing countries if they are serving Western interest. Alas, in Egypt, the military intervention did not serve these Western interests.

Scholarly thought in Africa or anywhere else should not continue to consider only the western means of political change to be legitimate or accepted. Should we always accept changes through so called ‘Youth Spring,’ ‘Youth movement’ ‘Green movement’ and ‘Colored revolutions’ as the only legitimate mechanism for political change?

In essence, what we had witnessed on 30 June 2013 in Egypt was the ordinary people’s revolution against the Islamists governance that had dismantled their lives for the interests of the West: there were the poorest of the people who suffered under the Islamists rule, and before them they suffered under the military supreme council rule that followed the Mubarak regime. Both regimes ignored any developmental social programs for the poor. The masses of 30 June were led by the marginalized youth of the 25 January 2011 uprising. The problem facing the democratic forces now is not a military coup; it is weak organization and the challenge of putting strong socio- economic programs that support and uplift the poor.

*Helmi Sharawy is the former Director of Arab and African Research Center in Cairo; he is an author and executive member of CODESRIA, the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa.