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Egypt’s Islamist-military ‘coup’

10/02/12 07:07 CET

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Some critics of the Egyptian Revolution are saying it never really happened. Demonstrators in the country celebrated the downfall of President Mubarak, and his departure one year ago this Saturday, but sceptics insist that is the only victory they achieved.

Egypt-watchers say it was not even the street protesters’ achievement on its own that brought the change, but the army’s withdrawal of support for Mubarak.

Since he has been gone, the armed forces have given the orders. Field Marshal Tantawi, age 76, at the head of the Supreme military Council, has named the ministers to supposed to pilot the state of Egypt towards democracy.

To much domestic and international fanfare, and apprehensions over the expected result, Egypt’s first elections installed a parliament dominated by the country’s most organised and well-funded group outside the army. Two thirds of the seats were won by Islamist candidates.

Author and journalist John Bradley has been writing about Egypt and the wider Middle East for years. Our London Correspondent Ali Sheikholeslami spoke to him.

Bradley said: “These election weren’t free and fair. They are not fair because the Islamists had three decades of experience to draw up, and a vast network, a political and social network, and the liberals had only just established their parties. The other problem is that they are not free if they have been bought, and the radical Salafists especially are on record as having said that they received substantial funding from Golf Arab states.”

“There was no Egyptian revolution, technically speaking. There was a military coup, and the military that have ruled Egypt since 1952 sacrificed the president, and the Islamists filled the political vacuum. Now, in these elections, the party set up by the revolutionaries only managed to gain two percent of the total votes cast. That doesn’t suggest to me that we can talk about the revolutionary movement and an electoral victory in the breath.”

“Egypt’s future basically belongs to the Islamists. There is no other outcome that’s possible. If there is a genuine secondary wave, revolutionary wave, from the people against military rule, the Islamists will have no choice but to side with the people and the result will be the triumph of Islamists. If there is no secondary revolutionary wave, this pact that exists between the Islamists and the military regime will continue, and that will result is an Islamist triumph. Either way, the liberals have been decimated.”

Secularists and liberals, strong in the streets but weak institutionally, denounce what they call an appropriation by the military of their revolution:

They are afraid that the army’s alliance with the Islamists will sideline them in the reform process.

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