Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Opinion: In Egypt, politics is tougher than fighting terrorists | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The Egyptian people are confident that the Egyptian military is capable of defeating those who threaten the country’s security—operations in Sinai and other places as well as the pursuit of activated sleeper cells in various Egyptian cities prove this.

The real challenge for Egyptians 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.

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 in government under Mohamed Mursi.

Egypt finds itself at a crossroads here. It either establishes a proper path that represents the aspirations of the Egyptian people or it does not.

If it succeeds in doing so, this means it will have developed a democratic separation of powers and made 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 preexisting 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 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 fear of revolutions or military coups. Confronting huge challenges—whether economic or developmental—can only be achieved in such a reassuring and secure atmosphere.