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Egypt's liberals are like Iraq's Sunnis - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Today the liberals of Egypt are devoting themselves to conflict after the fall of the Mubarak regime, in the same way that the Sunnis of Iraq devoted themselves to delusion after the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime. The liberals of Egypt are sceptical of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Military Council, America and the international community, and they want to try and convict symbols of the former regime, even the innocent ones among them. Yet the beneficiary of all of this is the Muslim Brotherhood!

The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood today is playing politics in accordance with reality rather than delusions. Meanwhile the liberals are still chasing idealism and calling on the Military Council to turn this into a reality, knowing that the military still reiterates that it will not rule [permanently] and wants to return to its barracks, but is being dragged into the battle on the streets everyday. A well informed source on the region told me that the liberals of Egypt are like the Sunnis of Iraq after the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime. In Iraq, the Sunnis were told: as long as you complain about Shia parties that are loyal to Iran, [you must] ally with the Kurds, this is politics! The Sunnis replied that that was impossible, and presented a list of their “delusional” complaints about the Kurds. So what happened? The Kurds subsequently allied with those Shia groups loyal to Iran, and now look at the situation of the Sunnis in Iraq.

Today, the same thing is happening in Egypt with the youth and the liberals, as they engage wholly in criticising the “Brotherhood” and the Military Council. In fact the “Brotherhood” played a very clever game with the youth and the liberals, as it preoccupied them with several different issues whilst the group strengthened its position on the ground. Sometimes it would spread stories that the symbols of the former regime were [being held] in five-star prisons and so the youth, the liberals, and the media moved so quickly that even the independent judiciary began to fear acquitting those who were actually innocent! Then the Brotherhood would suddenly go back to spreading stories about finances abroad and about remnants of the regime planning a counter revolution. As soon as matters began to calm down again, the Brotherhood would claim that Saudi Arabia wants to disrupt the revolution, or America wants to disrupt the revolution, and so on and so forth…

The political reality tells us that the youth and the liberals should be hand in hand with the military and should, first and foremost, call for the drafting of the constitution and then for presidential elections. A source told me a story that contains a lot of wisdom, and it comes from the tales of Hashemi Rafsanjani immediately after the Iranian revolution. Rafsanjani suggested to some symbols of the Iranian civil state that the Iranian constitution should be written before the elections, but they insisted on holding elections first. Rafsanjani told them in a few words: you will regret this. The elections took place and the events unfolded in a manner contrary to what the enthusiasts and supporters of the civil state expected. The victors drafted the constitution and there could be no regrets at the time, because in revolutions the victors always draft the constitution!

Therefore it would be best if the Egyptian constitution was drafted now, under the protection of the Military Council, because it would act as a universal source of reference, and would be put to a referendum. Then a president should be elected and parliamentary elections should be held after that. This is the best guarantee for protecting the Egyptian revolution. It is true that the Military Council has its faults, the most prominent of which is that it refrains [from taking action] and then responds under the pressure of demonstrations, as if testing the sincerity of the public. However the chaos and failure to act according to the reality is putting Egypt in a perpetual state of demonstrations, i.e. chaos, which in turn strengthens the gains of the “Brotherhood”, especially as the Egyptian economy is now under real threat. For instance, does it make sense for the liberals and the youth to call for isolating a transitional government in order to appoint another transitional government? This is a pointless process of consumption; are the liberals and the youth aware of that?

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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