Even though the ouster of Morsi may have represented the Egyptian people’s will, General Sisi’s actions are diluting any legitimacy he might have initially drawn from the masses and institutions like Al-Azhar, the Coptic Church, and the parliamentary Opposition. His gross handling of the whole issue reflects his political myopia.
Right from the start, he has been taking all the wrong steps. First, in a grossly impolitic move, the elected President was abducted and his disappearance continues to date. Even though the crime of his forced ouster could have been veiled by the will of the other half of Egypt – that was on the roads – his detention echoes the US‘s not-to-be-spoken word, coup d’etat, very loudly.
As if that were not enough to disgruntle the Morsi supporters, the interim setup declared that the deposed president will be tried on a range of grounds, even though their previous excuse for his disappearance had been ‘his own safety.’ Senior leaders of the Brotherhood have been detained and their assets frozen – a way of telling the Brotherhood to end the protests or get blacklisted (again).
And now the 9 letter convenient connotation of ‘terrorism’ has finally been used by Sisi, along with his intentions of beefing security up. This means Egypt’s military may be instrumentalised to launch a full-fledged crackdown on not just the Muslim Brotherhood but democracy’s supporters there, on the pretext of controlling terrorism. Hosni Mubarak did the same in 2005, but the Brotherhood managed a majority in 2012 elections anyway.
It seems that General Sisi is over-relying on the might of guns, his pacifist-of-the-last-resort. He should be mindful of the dynamic and inflammable political landscape he is operating in. Use of brute force may not only result in a backlash in the form of lawlessness but may even avalanche into a full-fledged civil war.
Rather than issuing provocative and nonsensical deadlines to the Brotherhood, Sisi should free Morsi and other Brotherhood leaders first, and then offer them with any political alternatives. The sooner he figures that out, the better it will be for Egypt. Unfortunately, as of now, he seems to be putting the cart before the horse. The Brotherhood is more organised than ever and oppressing them this time around will not be a cakewalk.