Egypt is sailing in a confused sea. Contrary to the common wisdom of a much simpler past, “A ship with more than one captain sinks,” Egypt has proven too big and too complex for one captain alone at its helm. Navigating through truly turbulent waters and often creating the waves himself, President Mohamed Mursi has so far failed miserably to steer the ship in any direction. The most he and his surrounding advising brothers and hoods have shown is an ingenious ability to create fires while fighting them. To the continuing disappointment of many of his own supporters and many who chose his leadership over that of the army or the old regime, albeit reluctantly, the president, his clan, his aides, his party and his government have failed to unite Egyptians in any one direction. If anything, since the infamous first constitutional declaration in November, later revoked with yet another one, Mursi’s actions and mostly apparent inaction due to the pressure and rising show of power of a finally united opposition have further divided Egyptians.
With the waters very murky with waves and winds blowing in all directions, it is difficult to alone discern the course without the united expertise of all. As the storm proceeds, one must question the once-anticipated ability of the ruling party and its Muslim Brotherhood’s politically savvy capabilities to rule Egypt. The past few weeks have not only begun to expose a highly exaggerated image of such ability, but have also exposed the crude political inexperience and possibly inaccurate reading of reality. The rule of political Islam might still be presented as the viable option for Egypt and the entire region as it struggles to steer toward a future direction. The test so far has yielded more mistrust and growing opposition, enough to lead some to entertain other options. On the other hand, more liberal, secular and national leadership is emerging and steadily gaining ground. Egypt is not a small country to be ruled by a handful of this or that unless it is under an iron-fisted dictatorship. Egypt has a good taste of the latter, and it is still too fresh in the national memory to be accepted once again.
Today could be a decisive round in the current string of events, as the rest of Egypt again takes to the polls to say “yes” or “no” to a highly contested Constitution. Even for the referendum, the country had to be divided in two batches as the organizing and monitoring ability was curtailed due to serious confrontations and more divisions among the judicial institutions in the country. The first 10 governorates to cast their votes last Saturday yielded an unexpected rough 56 percent “yes” and 44 percent “no” despite serious allegations of fraud and forgery according to the opposing National Salvation Front and observing human rights organizations. Although results are unofficial until the ballots are counted after Dec. 22’s votes are cast, the close proximity and apparent division has cast more doubt on the current ruling direction for Egypt and is received with serious national and international criticism and skepticism about the way forward.
The “either-or” scenario might not prove to be Egypt’s best option to weather the fierce storm in a confused sea. It will be ultimately up to Egyptians to unite once more.
(Published in the Turkey-based www.hurriyetdailynews.com)