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The Muslim Brotherhood is turning a blind eye to the army’s torture record

Posted on Facebook on April 11, 2013

Yesterday’s Guardian article is big news.

The first question of course is whether or not Morsy, and behind him the MB, will do anything about it and summon the courage to hold Egypt’s high brass accountable.

There are those who say that time has not come yet for the revolution to take on the army. They point out that other countries, e.g. South Africa, many countries in eastern Europe and South America, took decades before they could be able to dismantle the former regime. We have to crawl before we are able to run, they say.

What this analysis misses, however, is the big difference between the Egyptian Revolution and other examples of democratic transitions. In these other countries (e.g. the color revolutions of eastern Europe), the problem was that following the revolution, the new forces who led the revolution were lacking in experience and at the same time faced the remnants of the former regime (in the military, the police, the bureaucracy, etc) who were not willing to let go of power easily. Hence the difficulty of an smooth transition to democracy.

In Egypt, however, things are different. Our post-revolutionary landscape is divided not into two major camps: revolutionary regime and ancien regime, but three camps: the revolutionary forces (the “Tahrir crowd”), the fulul (the “Shafik crowd” including the army, the police, the bureaucracy, NDP businessmen,) and the Muslim Brotherhood, who ended up in power (“Elshater’s crowd”). Accordingly, those in power now are not revolutionary — they never believed in the revolution and are deeply weary of it. At the same time, they are frustrated by the fact that the fulul are preventing them from controlling the institutions of the state; the army, the police, the judiciary, etc.

The question, then, is not that with time, the revolution will be strong enough to take on the army. The point is not that the MB is not strong enough to take army or the police, but that they do not want to. They do want to ==control== the police and the army, it is true, but this is not the same as “restructuring the security sector” or holding accountable army high brass who have ordered the abduction, torture and killing of civilians . The aim is ikhwanization, not more.

Far from assuming that through time Morsy and his ilk will be strong enough to take on the army and the police. Rather, what is more likely is that through time Morsy and his henchmen in the Muslim Brotherhood will reach a deal with the army and the police and turn on the revolutionaries. Without controlling the means of coercion they will not be able to erect gallows in Tahrir.

Proof of the MB’s unwillingness to take on the police or the army are abundant and clear. 1. this damning report (all 800 pages of it) has been sitting on the President’s desk for months; 2. when Tantawi and Enan were kicked out of office last August, they were given the highest medals and accolades; 3. the Constitution which has been written by an Assembly dominated by Islamists, exempted the army from any supervision and gave military courts exclusive right to try military personnel; 4. when the revolutionaries marched onto the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of interior in an (admittedly inchoate) attempt to protest their draconian measures, the Islamists preferred instead to besiege the Constitutional Court and the Media City; 5 in repeated meetings with chief police officers, and in the wake of atrocities committed by the police, the Prime Minister and other members of the MB reassured police officers that their perks and privileges would not be touched; indeed, they promised them more weapons and revising laws so as to give them the right to use live ammunition; and last but not least, the arsenal of anti-democratic laws that the government is now preparing to close the political scene off: the freedom of information law, the anti-demonstrations law, the new NGOs law, the elections law, etc.

It is a turn to fascism rather than a steady march along transitional justice that Egypt is witnessing now under the Muslim Brotherhood.

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