The recovering news junkie- that would be me- hasn´t been very much on top of the news lately. As I´m no longer evaluating media coverage for a living I guess one can say the recovery is almost complete. As I have been too busy preparing and looking forward to my Malta move and milking the glorious British summer of 2013, much of the civil-unrest plague pestering the Middle East has been off my radar. Until yesterday, two years and 8 months after the seemingly impossible had happened, Egypt was right back in Dark Fairy focus. Yesterday it was announced that the islamist party the Muslim Brotherhood, which had been banned for decades and had won the country´s first free and fair elections in May last year, was banned by the army yet again. As if the whole process of the last two years and 8 months had been for absolutely nothing.
For those who are less geeky when it comes to politics of the Arab World let the Dark Fairy enlighten you.
Once upon a time there was an authoritarian ruler called Husni Mubarak, who had ruled Egypt for more than 30 years after his predecessor Anwar Sadat was assassinated in 1981. As one of the few Arab nations Egypt had signed a peace deal with Israel -the reason behind Sadat´s assassination- and the country was a strong ally to the US that provided the country with billions worth of aid and military support. The country was stable, yet, due to the state of emergency, repressed. In January 2011 it was repressed business as usual. Elections were planned for September later that year and the only question raised was whether Mubarak would run for yet another term or let one of his sons run in his place. As disillusion had ruled for too long the miracle the people had hoped for for decades was no longer expected. But then that miracle in the form of the Arab Spring did happen and to everyone’s surprise the Egyptian people got rid of their dictator. After the army, claiming to function as an interim government, hung on to power for too long elections were organised and held in May last year. This resulted in a small majority for the previously banned islamist party the Muslim Brotherhood, which despite its clandestine status was – and still is- a very active grassroots movement. The party’s leader, Mohammed Mursi, became president. The Egyptian liberal elite wary of islamists in general feared a hijacking of the democratic process as one could argue that islamism and democracy are not compatible, while the West feared loss of its influence and general instability in the region. Mursi´s leadership was controversial from the start. Besides undemocratic tendencies it was also rather uninspiring. The country remained in a state of unrest as people continued to hit the streets. After being in power for a little over a year, the forever-power hungry army flexed its muscles yet again and removed Mursi from power. However bad a leader, when democratically elected any removal by a non-elected entity is a called a coup and coups are not funky.
Several weeks later, when I had made my Malta move I happen to reside close to the Egyptian embassy, which I pass everyday on my leisurely daily commute. I wonder if the ambassador and his – I´m sure it´s a he- people had been ousted with the former president. The neighbourhood I live in is very quiet and one often wonders if anyone actually lives in all those stately mansions. If they do, they sure don´t wander the streets. At the Egyptian embassy, however, there is always some sort of activity. Shabaab (young men) are hanging around audibly speaking Masree (Egyptian Arabic) and I wonder, which side are you lot on?
After all that, on a Monday three years and 8 months almost to the day after Mubarak was ousted, the Muslim Brotherhood is banned yet again. The big question is – yet again- what is next for Egypt? Where does this leave democracy and where does this leave the internal peace? How can something that started out so promising and exciting go so totally apeshit without turning into a civil war in less than three years? And who says the Brotherhood won´t take up arms? I guess time will tell and I sure hope it plans to tell us a happy-ending story before too long, ´cause no one needs yet another conflict in the region or in the world for that matters.