Whilst coming from very different ideological backgrounds, many parallels exist between Morsi’s present situation in Egypt and that of leaders like Allende & Zelaya in Latin America, writes Walaa Quisay.
President Obama released a statement just after Egypt’s Defence Minister El Sisi had announced that the Egyptian military will not take a backseat in the on-going power struggle. In his statement he threatened to withdraw the controversial aid to Egypt if Morsi fails to comply with the rules of democracy.
In their defence, the Muslim Brotherhood told journalist Matt Bradley that El Sissi’s statements were an effective call for a coup and they could not have been made without the support of the United States.
The United Arab Emirates, vocal in their animosity towards the Muslim Brotherhood, pledged to help Egypt financially once the regime of the Muslim Brotherhood collapses. The pressure of shortages in essentials during the past few months has elevated the mass discontent towards the regime. It is essential to take a step back, taking the lessons of history into account, to understand how the first democratically elected leader could possibly be overthrown.
There is no doubt that the government’s institutional weakness and over-reliance on identity politics was the first and foremost reason for the people’s disenfranchisement. There is, however, another element to it. Naomi Klein, a Canadian author, wrote an analysis on the rise of dictatorial regimes and the overthrow of democratically elected ones in her book ‘The Shock Doctrine’. It would seem almost profane to many leftists to compare the regimes of Guatemala’s Arbenz or Chile’s Allende or Honduras’ Zelaya to Mohammed Morsi in Egypt, namely because Morsi is not a socialist and may even be considered right wing. Still, if one were to analyse the circumstances and the order of events in which these Latin American presidents were overthrown, a trend can definitely be deduced in Egypt.
One must note that like Mursi, Allende, Arbenz and Zelaya appealed to a sector of the population that effectively got them into power democratically but were despised by the rest. They also represented a new political order which does not directly reflect the neoliberal secular American model.
The narrative of ‘Shock Doctrine’ explains the economic school of thought pioneered by Milton Freidman, which is if a population is in shock, you can get them to agree to anything. When the US governments took his theories on-board in Chile, with the help of prominent anti-government businessmen, they created a conscious shortage of essential goods. This increased the population’s discontent, plus random acts of violence forced the population into a state of frenzy. They then allied with segments of the military and through this alliance they were able to bomb the presidential palace. It was not clear whether Chile’s Allende died in the bombing or committed suicide in fear of being caught and humiliated just as Jacobo Arbenz of Guatamala had when he was photographed naked after his arrest. Egypt appears to be a textbook example of the shock doctrine except it is very unlikely that the military would venture, again, in to direct rule.
In 2009, the Honduran president was overthrown in a military coup. Zelaya’s overthrow may present a more likely model than that of 1950’s Guatemala or 1970’s Chile. Just like Chile and Guatemala, shock doctrine policies were in effect but unlike these two countries direct military control did not follow. There was a military chaperoning of a civilian regime whose policies and ideology were more attune to the US.
Currently in Egypt, the military has given the government 48 hours before they will intervene. It is not clear how they intend to do so but the most likely scenario is that the leaders of this movement, both the January 25th revolutionary groups and pro Mubarak will lead an interim government that will have the acceptance of both the US Govt and the Egyptian military.
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