Problems on Hold
Amid the whirlpool of events engulfing the Egyptian political scene, the Tamarud (Rebel) campaign charges ahead in leaps and bounds with its plan to withdraw confidence from
President Mursi before the end of June, a date which coincides with the first anniversary of his swearing in as president of Egypt. Tamarud is gathering signatures from millions of Egyptians on a petition to discredit President Mursi. The aim is that these signatures should exceed the ballot that voted him in last year, compelling him thus to step down and hold early presidential elections. The President’s term does not end till 2016.
The name of the campaign, Tamarud, literally Rebellion, strongly reflects its mission. We have reached the point where a substantial portion of Egyptians rejects the rule of President Mursi and is enraged at his failure to fulfill his electoral promises. They resent his inadequacy at running the Egyptian State, his inability to work for rapprochement among the severely polarised political factions, and his apparent powerlessness to pull the economy out the doldrums. They deplore the breakdown in security, the absence of the rule of law, and the lacking State dignity. In a nutshell, they suffer from the failure of the President and his regime to bring about any tangible improvement to the quality of life of the poor, downtrodden masses; thus failing to answer the objectives of the 25 January 2011 Revolution of freedom, social justice and human dignity. These Egyptians are now striving to prove themselves a majority to be reckoned with.
One should own that all the reasons behind the rejection of the President’s performance are valid and well-founded, and the pile-up of wrath and hardship Egyptians are sustaining since he took office is undeniable. Mursi has persisted in defying the masses and provoking them with his precarious decisions and hasty declarations, let alone his silence—or blessing—at the invasion of the presidency by the Muslim Brotherhood (MB). Egyptians believe that the MB are after dominating all State institutions, shoving away anyone who does not belong to them, and working to replace the legendary Egyptian moderation and diversity with alien radical extremist thought. At stake is the very spirit of the Egyptian community.
After the passage of 100 days since President Mursi took office—the period the President had set for himself to achieve positive steps towards tackling the most pressing problems of Egypt—many said the President should be taken to account for not honouring his promises. Many others, however, myself included, called for patience and allowing the President a fair chance, say a year at least. As this first year in Mursi’s presidency today draws to a close, however, it is obvious matters are steadily going from bad to worse.
The situation calls for no optimism, the upsurge of wrath and protest is inevitable, and Tamarud is both understandable and justified. But let me point out that, other than the anger and disillusion at the failure of the ruling regime, there exists also widespread frustration at the inadequacy of the opposition and its appalling failure to politically engage with the ruling regime to reverse the situation. By ‘political engagement’ I mean positive effort on all levels: dialogue, negotiation, skirmishes, battles and pressure. Isolation, rejection, denouncement and boycott are not among the tools of political engagement. The Egyptian opposition has abandoned the scene to those who have monopolised power, and allowed them to defiantly claim that they had invited the opposition to talk but that the opposition declined. The young Egyptians who had made the Revolution found themselves trapped between a failed regime and an impotent opposition.
As a matter of fact, the compliance of the opposition with Tamarud is in itself a symptom of impotence. The opposition leaders applauded the campaign and offered to support it, without assuming any responsibility towards informing or enlightening the young people who had launched the campaign. The opposition should have awakened those youth to the fact that their endeavour would help expose the magnitude of the wrath and rejection on the Egyptian street against the President, but is alone incapable of altering the political reality. It cannot bring about early presidential elections, nor can it compel the President to step down, no matter how much it draws his attention to the majority of Egyptians who no longer want him as President. Tamarud is based neither on political legitimacy nor the rules of Egypt’s presidential system. The principle of early elections is applied in States which embrace parliamentary systems; it offers an emergency rescue for the ruling majority in case it loses parliamentary majority, or if it senses that public support is wavering. It was essential to inform the youth behind the Tamarud campaign of these facts, especially in view of the ample wrath, frustration, and grief that drives them on.
I openly admire the persistence, effort and enthusiasm the Tamarud youth are exerting in order to reach out to and mobilise the masses. I cannot help wondering, however, that since the opposition is so capable of mobilising millions of Egyptians to sign the Tamarud petition, why cannot this zeal be exploited to revive the opposition, unite its ranks and arrange its cards before venturing on the upcoming parliamentary elections? Why don’t we direct the motive force that gave birth to Tamarud to rally Egyptians to the ballot box which alone holds the destiny of Egypt? Why don’t we consider Tamarud a political tryout for the upcoming parliamentary elections on which the hopes of the salvation of Egypt now hang, especially after the recent ruling by the Supreme Constitutional Court of the invalidity of Parliament’s upper house, the Shura Council?
7 June 2013