Six Professors Tackle Egypt Coup, Massacre

The always-compelling Middle East Report assembled a crack team of six political science, history, and Middle East studies professors to analyze the recent coup and massacre in Egypt.

The basic conclusion is that everything is really bad and getting worse, quickly. Most held out a glimmer of hope for a counter-revolution against the military, but the general mood was pessimistic.

Mona al-Ghobashy noted how unsurprised she was by the military takeover,

No one who understands the architecture of power in Egypt can be sanguine about the current moment. The specter of Egyptian democracy has always had many powerful enemies, in Cairo, Riyadh, Tel Aviv and Washington, and they work extraordinarily well together to subvert any serious advances on the state by outsiders. If the accommodationist, conservative counter-elite of the Muslim Brothers failed to secure their perch in the state for more than a year, the chances of any real reform of the Egyptian leviathan seem nil.

Jeannie Sowers said it was a mistake to frame the conflict in Egypt as a conflict between the military and Islamists. Rather, it is a conflict between the military and anybody who they perceive to be a threat,

Those who think that this terror campaign will be limited to Islamists are deluded. Already, the military is reprising Mubarak-era tactics — arresting labor leaders, intimidating human rights activists and obscuring its actions with systematic misinformation. Bad as the Mursi government was, it was unable to launch such a sophisticated attack on dissent, because it had far less control over the repressive apparatus of the state. That machinery has reemerged with a clear agenda to curtail revolutionary gains.

Joshua Statcher made it clear that even if the US revoked Egypt’s military aid (which they did yesterday), Egypt’s military would not lose its connections to the United States government,

Some speculate that the price might include the loss of US aid, and the generals have predictably huffed that they won’t miss it. They’re blowing smoke. Irrespective of the dollar amount, the aid knits the Egyptian and US officer corps together. The officers come to know each other far longer than the presidents to whom they pledge fealty. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Gen. ‘Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi talk all the time, but al-Sisi knows the buck doesn’t stop with Hagel. He has several informal channels in the Pentagon he can use to circumvent the secretary should the need arise.

And Paul Sedra detailed how Egypt’s Copts continue to find themselves in a no-win situation,

Having welcomed the demise of Mursi, might the [Coptic] patriarch ultimately find himself burdened with an Islamism born of the military — one allied to the conservative social agenda of a stronger-than-ever salafi movement?

This is all very depressing.

Personally, the image I can’t get out of my head is the image of the two hundred dead bodies in the mosque, kept from rotting by blocks of ice and fans. Or of the burned churches, the killing of Copts by angry mobs, the military setting a hospital afire, an armored truck going off a  bridge. It’s a potent reminder of how hard democracy is to achieve – it took two years of non-stop protests to get there – and how easily it is lost.

So….um… Happy Wednesday, I guess?


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