Egyptians of all walks of life can talk of nothing today but of their country and her steady political, economic, security and ethical decline. The worry runs deep Egyptians of all walks of life can talk of nothing today but of their country and her steady political, economic, security and ethical decline. The worry runs deep and engulfs all: not only those in the opposition, but also the supporters of the ruling Islamist regime; and even those Egyptians who distance themselves from both groups and just sit back helplessly watching the public scene.
United in their worry about the nation, Egyptians are yet divided on the reasons that are hurting that nation. Supporters of the ruling regime and the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) group to which President Mursi belongs, even though they admit to having committed errors, accuse the opposition of overstating these errors in order to depict them as losers and to hold them responsible for the collapse of Egypt economically and security-wise. They claim that the media is in a conspiracy against the ruling regime, that it intentionally smears its image by faking and exaggerating news which place the regime in a negative light. They allege that unknown elements—inside and outside Egypt—are funding the rampant acts of violence, thuggery and terrorism in order to propagate an image of a distraught, shaky State. The supporters of the ruling regime also claim they are not after monopolising power; they have invited the leaders of the political movements in Egypt to sit to national dialogue but, they say, the opposition showed no interest and hastened to put preconditions and demand guarantees before sitting to the dialogue table.
The revolutionary youth and the opposition, on the other hand, bitterly complain of the policy implemented by the ruling regime, at whose head sits a president voted into power by the ballot box. But this President, the opposition claim, never honoured the promise he made to act as president for all Egyptians. He openly aligned himself with the MB. No sooner had he been in office than he made a pounce on constitutional legitimacy, assailed the judicial authority, and opened the door wide for the MB to confiscate power and monopolise the leading positions in all State institutions. He gave the Islamists full power to pass a defective constitution, and sailed it through a referendum the serious irregularities of which he conveniently overlooked. The deplorable official policy was to richly reward supporters and terrorise opponents. And as though this were not enough, the ‘President of all Egyptians’ stubbornly charged ahead with defying the national group, indifferent to the unprecedented rift that gripped the nation and took it to the verge of civil war. He even appeared unconcerned with the excessive violence his security apparatus used against the demonstrators who were commemorating two years on the 25 January Revolution. The violence brought to mind the cruelty of the security apparatus of the pre-Revolution Mubarak regime.
The chasm between both camps is getting wider by the day, egged on by the bitter build-up of suspicion and apprehension. Each camp remains resolute: the ruling regime clings to the power it claims it has acquired through the legitimacy of the ballot box; the opposition insists on proceeding with the unfulfilled revolution until it topples the regime. But the real victim is Egypt. No one appears to heed the terrible, terrifying destiny that awaits Egypt as it plummets politically, economically and on the security front. Will the country soon succumb to the rank of a ‘failed State’?
Amid the desperation, a few sporadic voices are crying for wisdom to rescue the nation and heal the rift between the national ranks. Some of these voices come from the presidency; others from the opposition. All were, predictably, rejected by the street and the revolutionists who refused to join hands with a regime that has initiated a rift between Egyptians, and who utterly disbelieved that such a regime could be well intentioned or committed to national dialogue.
In all truth, and without understating the anger and bitter sense of oppression dominant among so many Egyptians, I would like to underscore the peril of the situation, which I imagine the President and his group also sense. There is no space here for stubbornness or intransigence, as support for the regime is swiftly waning. It is imperative that some action should be taken to unite the national ranks and contain the problem that has gone out of hand under a government that lacks vision and an opposition that aims to topple the regime at any price.
Doubts and apprehensions should be put aside, and the door should be open to national dialogue. The opposition should take the plunge since, for now, dialogue appears to be the only viable option; as a no-risk route it warrants a venture to rescue the nation. It is frequently said that what cannot be attained in its entirety should not be relinquished in its entirety. It has been announced that there is already before the national dialogue an acceptable ‘prescription’ to treat the ills of Egypt. Whatever of it may be implemented is capable of bringing about a new mood of relaxation instead of the currently prevalent confrontational climate. This mood may work to pave the way to wider horizons of stability and progress.
Will the opposition have the sufficient foresight and wisdom needed at this critical point to heal the national rift? The eyes of Egypt are looking up at every one of us.
24 February 2013