Many people, including foreigners, were surprised by the Egyptian authorities’ ability to disperse the pro-Mursi protests and by the quick collapse of the Muslim Brotherhood’s fortifications after the latter surprised the world with its steadfastness. The Brotherhood even employed international television channels so the world could witnesses the expected confrontation. It took security forces less than one day to dispel the pro-Mursi protesters from the Rabaa al-Adawiya and Ennahda Squares. Were the Brotherhood’s threats and determination worthy of the lost confrontation?
The result is that the Brotherhood is now in too weak a position to negotiate. Before yesterday, the Brotherhood could have negotiated to withdraw but now there’s nothing left to negotiate over. These mistakes are the result of the acts of their extremist leaders like the supreme guide, Khairat al-Shater, Mohamed al-Beltaji and Issam al-Erian who led their followers into a losing battle. As per the Iranian style, Erian and Betlaji filled media outlets with their statements threatening woe and destruction and warning that the world will witness something it has never witnessed before.
I do not think the Egyptians - government, army and activists included - had the desire to expel pro-Mursi protesters from the squares by forceAbdulrahman al-Rashed
I do not think the Egyptians - government, army and activists included - had the desire to expel pro-Mursi protesters from the squares by force. But it seems that the situation in Egypt has become a battleground for dignity between both camps. What happened yesterday was the result of stubbornness that had reached the point of no return for either party. Yesterday marked the second defeat for the Brotherhood which failed to manage the political battle during the entire year of Mursi’s reign as president and after the supreme guide, Shater, and other leaders failed to understand all signs and warnings. Mursi was thus ousted as a result of the June 30 protests. The Brotherhood then committed the same mistake again as they failed to manage the protest so as to politically benefit from it. They were visited by many delegations begging them to accept centrist solutions but the Brotherhood rejected such attempts.
Turning away peace
The Brotherhood thus turned down mediators from Salafist parties and from representatives of countries, such as the U.S., the EU and the UAE. The Brotherhood preferred confrontation and its supporters were finally expelled from two squares in one day. The Brotherhood’s problem is its extremist leadership which refused to make any concessions and insisted on fulfilling all its demands, from restoring Mursi to the presidency to upholding the constitution it constructed.
No one should have died yesterday and confrontations should not have occurred at all. Yesterday’s events were yet another painful lesson for Egyptians. Perhaps we’ll see both parties attempting to go back to political maneuvering instead of resorting to confrontations in squares. The Brotherhood, as a political movement, remains part of the Egyptian spectra, and no party has denied the Brotherhood’s right to participate in political life.
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on August 15, 2013.
Abdulrahman al-Rashed 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, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.