It was not possible for any of us to have gone so far as to this conclusion if it weren’t for the most senior military official in Egypt, Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who sounded alarm bells and warned that the continuation of the conflict between political factions could lead to “the fall of the state.”
Neither Egyptians nor Arabs nor the world could bear such a dreadful idea. Regardless of how different their positions are, Egyptians should never allow chaos to spread and the 7, 000 year-old state, the oldest in the world, to collapse.
The defense minister’s statement has several meanings. In addition to alerting blinded politicians , he meant to send a warning that the army would intervene, not just to impose a curfew, as requested by President Mohamed Mursi, but possibly to declare martial laws and establish a military rule that could last for years, hence a reenactment of the Algerian experience.
President Mursi is the one responsible for preventing the collapse of the state and the subsequent military intervention. If he is not able to get conflicting factions together and talk them into working under his leadership through reaching a common ground as far as major controversial issues are concerned, we might witness the fall of the second Egyptian republic.
President Mursi is to be personally held accountable for the fall of state because he is the only one who is capable of redressing the mistakes his government and party had made throughout the past few months. It is obvious that Mursi is not the only president, for Muslim Brotherhood leaders, especially the group’s de facto supreme guide Khairat al-Shater, are sharing the presidency with him. This is demonstrated in the contradiction between the president’s speeches and decisions. Apart from the one in which he imposed curfew on the cities hit by unrest, the president’s speeches are usually reconciliatory.
On the other hand, his decisions are usually hostile. The battle for the constitution unraveled this contradiction when it ended with imposing a draft that breaks all the promises made by the president and putting it to a public referendum against the people’s will as well as undermining the independence of the Constitutional Court and the judiciary in general. All these factors eventually led to the current crisis that might trigger the collapse of civilian rule.
Mursi is now facing two choices: reconciliation or confrontation. Through reconciliation, he can build a state for everyone and bring back to Egyptians the rights of which they were stripped by a constitution mostly written by his supporters and in violation of the principles of democracy. He should also approve an election law in which candidacy, vote count, and legal disputes are not under his authority, but rather fully supervised and administered by truly independent judicial institutions. The opposition rose against the Muslim Brotherhood’s attempts to control the Constitutional Court and the prosecutor general because if this two are under the president’s authority, Egypt will become a replica of Iran and only the ruling party would have the final say as to who runs and who wins, which is exactly why the tyranny of one party lasted for 30 years.
If Mursi rejects reconciliation, we might wake up one day within the coming few months to see military rule established. If this happens, Egypt and the entire Arab world would lose the most important change that took place in the past 100 years.
This article was first published in Asharq Alawsat on Jan. 30, 2013.
(Abdelrahman AlRashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq Al- Awsat where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq Al-Awsat’s sister publication, Al Majalla. Throughout his career, AlRashed has interviewed several world-leaders whilst his articles provoked worldwide recognition and has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly-regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.)