In Egypt, political rivals are tougher than terrorists

Egypt finds itself at a crossroads. It either establishes a proper path that represents the Egyptian people’s aspirations or it doesn’t

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

Published: Updated:

We are confident that the Egyptian military command is capable of defeating its rivals who threaten the country’s security. There have been military operations in Sinai and other places as well as operations in pursuit of activated sleeper cells in various Egyptian cities. The real challenge is linked to managing the political process. Uniting political rivals is more difficult than pursuing terrorists. It’s at this point that the skills of the most competent men rise to the surface. The presidency’s announcement that parliamentary elections will be held in February surprised many people who thought the military command, being in charge of the current political process, would remain in power.

Parliamentary elections will not silence the Muslim Brotherhood opposition which is attempting to sabotage the credibility and legitimacy of the upcoming elections. However, these elections will prove that the military is serious in pursuing a democratic path and engaging local political parties in managing the state and holding it accountable. Hopefully, this will be complemented by the announcement of a set date for holding presidential elections. Governance in this case will have real, and not temporary, legitimacy.

Egypt finds itself at a crossroads here. It either establishes a proper path that represents the Egyptian people’s aspirations or it doesn’t

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

The parties which are currently governing Egypt certainly know the importance of active participation. They also know that the political regime will be crippled if Islamists are not engaged in the political process. The challenge lies in finding Brotherhood affiliates who do not belong directly to the ousted party. I am aware that many are convinced that there is not one Brotherhood member who does not follow the group’s leadership. Perhaps this is true in the current, but temporary, phase. This explains my previous comment that managing the political process in Egypt will be more difficult than pursuing security operations. This is not about reconciling or making concessions but about establishing a political basis which the Brotherhood deviated from during their one year of governance.

Choosing a path

Egypt finds itself at a crossroads here. It either establishes a proper path that represents the Egyptian people’s aspirations or it doesn’t. If it succeeds in doing so, this means it will have developed democratic restrictions separating powers and making respect for the rights of the public compulsory. In this case, the party which wins the elections will be governed by constitutional restrictions and disputes will be resolved via already agreed upon mechanisms. If these rules had existed prior to the presidential elections two years ago, the relapse may not have happened and millions would not have taken to the street to oust Mohammad Mursi and his government.

Concerned parties, mainly the military command, can this time work properly and enable Egypt to host a regime that rules for another 100 years, provides stability and helps the government work without fears of revolutions or military ousters. Confronting huge challenges - whether economic or developmental - can only be achieved in such a reassuring and secure atmosphere.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Nov. 18, 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.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.