If the Egyptian military topples President Mohamed Morsi, it could be one of the biggest mistakes made in Egypt’s post 2011 revolution history.
There is no doubt Morsi made many mistakes as president. His government mismanaged the economy. Most ominously, Morsi betrayed the foundations of Egypt’s newly formed democracy when he undemocratically granted himself additional power.
We saw a clear example of this last year. According to an article on the 22nd of November in the New York Times:
With a constitutional assembly on the brink of collapse and protesters battling the police in the streets over the slow pace of change, President Mohamed Morsi issued a decree on Thursday granting himself broad powers above any court as the guardian of Egypt’s revolution, and used his new authority to order the retrial of Hosni Mubarak.
Morsi sounds pretty bad. So why would the Egyptian army toppling him be a mistake?
Professor Daniel Brumberg, my friend and colleague, has impressive academic credentials. He succinctly explained why toppling Morsi would be a mistake on his Facebook page:
If you want to once and for all discredit Authoritarian Islamism, then defeat it at the polls. A military intervention, even one backed by the street, will never achieve the lasting impact of an electoral defeat, and will always leave the impression that those backing the intervention fear that they cannot win an election. Beware the boomerang!
I agree with Dan. Morsi is bad, but toppling him by force—especially with a military coup d’état—could have serious repercussions in Egypt and perhaps the region for decades to come.
Lets not forget that Morsi is close to the Muslim Brotherhood. If they are driven from power through the barrel of the gun instead of through votes at the ballot box, then they could turn to the gun to try to reclaim their lost position. They could adopt the slogan “What was taken away from us by force can only be returned to us by force.”
A surge of political violence in Egypt—the largest state in the Arab World—could have a ripple effect across the region, driving Islamists away from the democratic political process. The result could create increased Islamic radicalization in the Middle East.
Also, we all want democracy for Egypt, don’t we? So since when toppling democratically elected leaders by force is democratic?
We must also ask the question: would toppling Morsi by force turn Egypt of 2013 into Algeria of 1992 ?
I am not an Egypt expert. There are people such as Brian Whitaker and my colleague Nervana Mahmoud who know Egypt far better than me. But all I can say is that in my opinion you can’t fix what is a democratic issue through the barrel of the gun. Morsi was elected. He was brought to power through the ballot box, and he must be removed the same way, if stable democracy is what we want.