Why Egypt’s Regime Must Double Down
There have been more killings in Egypt today of Muslim Brotherhood supporters. Of particular note is the death of Asmaa al-Beltagi, daughter of a senior Muslim Brotherhood leader, Dr. Mohammed al-Beltagi (h/t MFI). Martial law has been declared, the streets are being cleared, and military governors are being appointed.
A cynical man might say that clearly Egypt’s military and deep state want a civil war.
More to the point, the deep state—the Mubarak era civil servants, the military, police, the businesspeople in bed with them, and the judiciary, must now not lose power for the forseeable future.
It has been noticed that, miraculously, post coup, power problems, for example disappeared. The belief of many (and I agree) is that the deep state sabotaged Mursi. When the coup occurred, the government started working properly again. The regime claims that Mursi was incompetent, but basic logistical matters like power distribution rarely fix themselves overnight unless they weren’t really broken in the first place.
What Mursi did not do, despite sacking some high level apparatchniks, was purge the state of Mubarak era supporters who were in any position to sabotage his new government. Any new, actually democratic government, will likely learn that lesson, and if they take power, they will purge, purge, purge, as was done in Turkey, even if it requires being unjust and unfair, they will decide they cannot risk allowing Mubarak supporters to continue in any positions of power.
Having played their hand, having sabotaged Mursi, and having engaged in a coup, the military and its supporters are all-in.
Mursi did what he could, but I expect he feared a backlash if he purged the deep state. He also, in my opinion, overreached in the constitution. He tried to turn a temporary win, an electoral victory, into a constitution which locked down Egypt along the lines the Muslim Brotherhood wanted, and would keep it locked in that state even if secular forces won an election outright in the future. That enraged a lot of people, and made them more willing to be cat’s paws of the military and the deep state.
Egypt has another fundamental problem. It cannot feed itself. Any government which takes power in Egypt, it truly wants to pursue the policies which will make it prosperous, must have a plan which will allow Egypt to feed itself, and which during the transition period allows it to buy food in a non hard currency.