Yesterday Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court handed down rulings that dismissed the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated parliament, in what has been called a coup by military leaders apparently dissatisfied with “transitional authority” status. Egypt is now the newest example of an old trend in Middle Eastern politics in which Islamist gains inspire pushback from secular authoritarian elements in the government.
Now the NYT reports that even the country’s most idealistic elements are realizing how formidable the opposition is:
“The system was like a machine with a plastic cover, and what we did was knock off the cover,” said Islam Lotfy, back then a rising star in the Muslim Brotherhood who had predicted that if they ousted the head of state its body would fall. The roots of the ruling elite were “much deeper and darker” than they initially understood, he said.
All [liberal activists] say they were successfully manipulated by the military leaders.
“We were duped,” Mr. Maher of April 6 recalled. “We met with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces on Feb. 14, and they were very cute. They smiled and promised us many things and said, ‘You are our children; you did what we wanted to do for many years!’ ” Then they offered the same smiles and vague promises the next week, he said, and the next month after that.
Those smiles and promises will likely continue, but at this point, liberals, the business establishment, and the Copts now understand how politically weak they really are. Given a choice between Islamist rule and the old Egypt minus Mubarak, they will likely opt for the army and the old system.
In the wake of the military’s power grab, we have not heard the standard cries of the liberals and Twitterati: “Where is the revolution?” Perhaps they finally know the answer: it was never a revolution—or at least not theirs. The Mubarak family is gone, but the military republic that has ruled Egypt for sixty years endures.