Voice of America (Washington, DC)

6 January 2014

Egypt: Analysts Debate Success of Egypt's Military Intervention

(Page 2 of 2)

Others are more critical of the military-led transition.

Na'eem Jeenah, the executive director of the Afro-Middle East Center in Johannesburg, sees political manipulation behind the choice of election dates.

"You [could] have the election of a strong president who would be able to dictate the time table and the rules for how the parliamentary elections take place," he said. "[Head of the armed forces, General Adbul Fattal] al Sisi [may] stand for president, and he [would] be the kind of strongman president which the continent has been suffering under for decades."

Jeenah says the current crackdown does not just affect the Islamists but anyone who disagrees with the military -led ouster of former President Morsi. He says the stand-off is not between Islamists and secularists, but between those for and against the military-led intervention.

He says among those imprisoned by what he calls draconian anti-terror laws are secular activists, and journalists. He says the laws are meant to silence critics prior to the referendum on the new constitution.

Media bias

Analyst Mohamad Hamas Elmasry says polling data continue to show that Egyptian society is largely split, with a one-sided media environment that promotes the interim government, not reconciliation.

Elmasry is an assistant professor and the graduate director in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at the American University in Cairo.

He says both the media and government routinely suggest the Brotherhood is treasonous and un-Egyptian, and have praised massacres of Brotherhood protesters.

As an example, he referred to the killings of hundreds of protestors at Rabba al-Adawiya camp outside Cairo by security forces. The government said troops fired in self defense.

"After the massacres in August," says Elmasry, "the Egyptian media were praising the government-instigated violence. One of the private networks on TV was showing footage of the dispersal of the largest protests, while playing the [triumphant soundtrack to the film] Rocky in the background. "

Paper promises

Elmasry doubts that the proposed new constitution will restore civil liberties, despite articles that promise freedoms. He says the constitution under former president Hosni Mubarak, who ruled for over 30 years, also guaranteed press and personal freedoms. However, those promises were replaced by what he calls draconian laws which remain on the books today.

"Another problem with the [proposed] constitution," he says, "is that the minister of defense is going to be essentially the most powerful person in the country. His appointment must be approved by the military [over the next two presidential terms], the president can not remove him, and his term is eight years long, which is twice as long as the president's term."

Elmasry says democracy can not develop in an environment of systematic exclusion, a repressive legal framework, and military domination.

Others say what Egypt needs is stability, and evolution not revolution. They say a government headed by a military-backed president and a multi-party parliament is a step in the right direction.

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