Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Opinion: A milestone is passed, but trouble lies ahead | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Egyptian Muslim brotherhood supporters flash the four-finger sign around a fire during a demonstration on Talaat Harb Square in Cairo December 1, 2013 in Cairo (AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI)

The ousting of the Muslim Brotherhood from the government in Egypt was not easy, but it was successful, and Egypt drew a road map for the future starting with drafting the constitution, and ending with parliamentary and presidential elections.

The task of drafting the constitution is truly a massive one, because the process marks an exceptional time in the history of a country and its people. Constitutions are not changed every day, they are a representation of the identities of nations which strive for stability, so that the wheels of the state keep turning, and the people progress through the recognition of their aims, their rights and obligations, as communities and individuals unified by laws that are derived from the constitution. In addition, the constitutions of modern states vary according to their histories, cultures and the nature of their societies.

The constitution committee in Egypt has nearly concluded its work and has managed—despite the difficulties and challenges—to come close to achieving an amended and new Egyptian constitution which can help the country avoid any obstacles which may stop its progress as a state and people, and will be put to a referendum at the start of next year.

Egypt and the Egyptian people have succeeded in overcoming the Brotherhood crisis, and removed them from power. However, they have not apparently been decisive towards what the group represented in terms of groups rooted in political Islam, which until recently were banned in Egypt, and exploded like an epidemic after January 2011.

The Salafist Nour Party is still present on the political scene and has participated in the constitution committee. Despite the political flexibility and realism with which the party deals with the new reality, the crux of the issue has not yet been resolved at the constitutional level, as regards the acceptance or abolition of religious parties participating in political life. This argument has not been resolved yet, and there will be repercussions in the future.

Let us consider the recent judicial ruling which dissolved the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, for example. It is not a decisive ruling yet, and the Brotherhood was previously dissolved under the monarchy, just as it was during the Nasser era, making this the third time it has been officially abolished. However, the judicial rulings that are not supported by the constitution become liable to reversal as soon the political winds change.

The other issue is that the Muslim Brotherhood, despite the troubles it faced from the state and the public since June 30, still insists on persisting in its failed, confrontational policies. This is due to the lack of decisiveness before, which made people hate it more, and the state institutions more determined to confront it. It is terrorism which will last for a while, especially with external help the group enjoys regionally, from Turkey, Qatar and Iran.

With the state’s persistence on implementing the future road map, which is a very important issue to deliver Egypt to safety, it will continue to face challenges that are not less dangerous than the continuation of the terrorism of the Brotherhood, including the challenges to build a productive economy, internal development strategies, and drawing up rational regional and international policies.

The biggest challenge which will face the Egyptian state and people will be chaos in all its manifestations, which has grown for three years and hit hard at Egypt and the states of the Arab uprisings, and to which movements, parties and leaders from various parties are affiliated, and which remain skilled at creating chaos.

Observers of the Egyptian scene will not fail to see the start of chaos regaining its strength, after a truce since June 30, when the state and the people united in their rejection of the Muslim Brotherhood. Some in Egypt have started to work on regaining their roles, and the current argument about the “Protest Law” and the conflicting struggles and stances are nothing but one of the indicators.

The spread of uncertainty is an important factor in feeding chaos. The individual has a constant anti-authority and anti-state feeling. They constantly think major institutions are robbing them, oppressing them, or are planning to do something similar. This goes for the main social institutions, such as the family, and the less powerful political parties, who enjoy raising uncertainty at times of chaos to raise their public profile.

Therefore, the youth movements who like to call themselves revolutionary—due to the old Arab and Egyptian infatuation with the term revolution—have begun to enter the political scene, but are still wet behind the ears politically, and are shaken by any passing event or minor issue, or a decision, the repercussions of which they may not understand.

These youth movements are semi-organized and fundamentally weaker than the movements which will likely be formed in the future but have not taken an organized form yet. As for the latter, their chances are slimmer, their leaning towards chaos much deeper, and if the former were more realistic, the second are more idealistic, and at times of chaos, the idealistic voice is louder than the logical voice.

Chaos, for those who benefit from it, is a form of addiction. This addiction is similar to that which affects fighters in wars and conflicts, who find that they cannot settle down when the fighting stops, because they feel worthless, and feel they are of a lower standard than others, and according to the value they see for themselves, despise others.

The destructive voices which are now quiet, but which will be louder in the next phase, will become a noise which may deafen the ears and the minds at critical times, and must be overcome by the Egyptian state. Decisiveness in the face of chaos will not be easy, because it branches out and infiltrates society. However, succumbing to it will be a painful setback, and may be long lasting.