By Nicky Collins:
I am of the opinion that geographical distance is no yardstick when it comes to judging relationships. Look at India and Egypt, for instance. These two countries find themselves in roughly the same political state despite being about 5000 kilometers apart. Every five years, we Indians elect a government, hoping for some tangible change for the better and every single time, without fail, we end up disappointed. So, I am sure that all of us can empathize with those Egyptians who hoped for a peaceful and successful transition to democracy but instead ended up in the same state they were a year ago (if not worse). Kind of gives the metaphor ‘from the frying pan into the fire’ a whole new meaning.
The main grievances of the protesters who want Mohamed Morsi to step down as the president are poverty, power outages, plummeting foreign reserves, rising crime and nascent sectarianism. While the complaints are legitimate, in Morsi’s defense, one year is an awfully short time to change the face of an entire nation. While the impatience of the people who have achieved hope after thirty years of being in the dark is understandable, changes on such a grand scale happen over a long time and it takes even more time for such changes to become conspicuous.
Moreover, the grim outlook of the recent developments is further amplified by the very real threat of an army coup, which could destroy any chances of installing democracy in Egypt in the near future. The two day ultimatum issued by the army for Morsi to broker peace shows that the army is circling overhead like a vulture, ready to take advantage the moment the government and protesters start fighting.
If we analyze the state of Egypt, we realize that this time around, the situation is markedly different from how it was a year ago. Today, the protests are not against a tyrant or a dictator. The man whom the protesters seek to unseat happens to be the first democratically elected leader of that country. A demonstration in the Tahrir square is by no means an alternative for the ballot.
I may sound like a Morsi supporter or a sympathizer of Muslim brotherhood but I assure you that I am neither. I absolutely agree with what Washington said in its statement — ‘Democracy is more than just elections’. But the democracy in Egypt is in its infancy. It is too soon to dismiss the government as inefficient.
There is no clear cut solution to this crisis. If Morsi doesn’t step down, it could lead to a full fledged civil war and let us be assured that the army will be ready to pick up the crumbs when it is over. And if Morsi does step down, it will be a death blow to the spirit of democracy and again gives the army an incentive to start a coup. In short, it is a ‘damned if you do and damned if you don’t’ situation. Meanwhile, it is the people who suffer while the country is being bled dry by frequent confrontations. It is high time that Egypt decide to take a middle path out of this crisis, unless it wants to go the Syria way.