Egypt’s aftershocks: Military vs the people

Al Jazeera’s senior political analyst answers three questions about the escalation in Egypt – Published on Al Jazeera, by Marwan Bishara, November 22, 2011.

Why has there been an escalation in protests in Egypt?

  • The earthquake that transformed Egypt in the beginning of the year hasn’t reached far or deep enough because the military – the backbone of the Mubarak regime – sided with the revolutionaries in the hope of safeguarding its status and privileges … // 

… Is that why the Sharaf government resigned?

  • The government that contends to speak in the name of the people/revolution couldn’t and shouldn’t accept such bloodshed to be carried out in its name or under its watch …

… But would the military accept to return to the barracks and forgo its privileges?

  • In the end of the day the generals have no other choice but to side with the people of Egypt. This is not only common sense; it’s in their and the country’s vital interest.
  • Egypt’s national security is at stake, and Egyptians wouldn’t have it any other way.
  • They want their military to be strong in order to protect the sovereignty and independence of the nation. And the military needs a strong and vibrant democracy if they are to be a force to reckon with in the 21st century.
  • Indeed, the armed forces have an important role in ensuring the respect of the country’s constitution on the long term.
  • That can’t be the case if they are to become its primary violators.
  • And that also means that the military is part and parcel of the state’s institutions and falls under, not above, the sovereignty of the nation.
  • The generals can’t have their cake and eat it too. A democracy isn’t functional if it’s not extended to the armed forces.
  • The generals couldn’t decide their own budget and impose it on the people, or carve their own area of interest in the economy and polity of the nation.
  • Nor should they be exempted from retrospection or alternation that serves the higher interest of the country and its national security.
  • There is an easy way and an arduous way for all this to happen. But either way, happen it will, sooner or later. The people have spoken loud and clear. It’s up to the generals to stand up and salute the steadfast of their people and save the nation unneeded delays and suffering.

(full text)

(Marwan Bishara’s upcoming Book, The Invisible Arab: the promise and peril of the Arab revolutions, comes out in January 2012).


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