Henelito A. Sevilla, Jr
The Arab uprisings are redefining the political landscape of the Middle East and North African region. Despite recent transitional political processes being experienced by some Arab countries, chaos, uncertainty, fear, cases of sexual abuses against women, and struggle for power by sectarian groups still describe the general condition of affected countries especially in Egypt. In most recent development in Egypt, the so called first ‘democratically’ elected –transitional leader Muhammad Morsi, has been forcibly removed from power by a popular Egyptian demonstration.
The public demand was based simply on the assumption that Morsi’s administration failed to deliver Egypt from economic and political reforms and instead he vowed to ratify the Egyptian constitution by allocating more power to the president-a move that create another public outcry and eventually led to his removal.
Although the call was popular, it cannot be denied that the interventionary power of the Egyptian military force was increasingly crucial to his removal. Given this scenario, some questions are worth asking;
What will be the future role of the Egyptian Military forces in Egypt? Would there be a guarantee that the Egyptian Military Forces remain committed to the same notions of freedom, justice and democracy and economic liberalization that Egyptian people want? Will the Armed forces returns democracy and government management to the Egyptian people? What will be the future of the Islamic Brotherhood in Egypt?
It becomes a normal practice in many Arab countries that military armed forces play a crucial role in the removal and instalment of Arab leaders. In the history of the modern Egypt, Egyptian presidents such as Gamal Abdul Nasser Hussein, Anwar Sadat and Muhammad Hosni Mubarak rose to power from being the officers of the Egyptian Armed Forces.
Such condition was also practiced in Iraq during President Sadam , Hafiz Assad in Syria and King Hussain of Jordan where three of them were active members of the Armed Forces before serving as the heads of their respective countries.
However, with the popular uprising in the Arab world today, it becomes clear that Arab peoples want changes in their own countries. Given the critical role of the Military Forces in a transitional Egypt, it remains prudent if they will stay committed to the genuine aspiration of the majority of the Egyptian people for change and not become an instrument of another change which does not have strong support from the Egyptian people.
In short the Egyptian Military Forces may not completely need to emulate Turkish military in restoring the country’s democratic institutions in times of political crisis but it should stay as a credible guard to Egyptian cry for democracy and economic emancipation during and after the transition and not an instrument to another source of political misfortune in Egypt.
Aside from this, the Egyptian Military Forces must exercise non discriminatory practices towards the minorities such as the Coptic Christians. After all the forces that led down the revolution and overthrow the former President Mubarak were not identified with a certain Egyptian group(s) but by the majority of the Egyptian people who dreamed for a genuine change in their own land. In addition to this, members of the Islamic brotherhood must also be treated with equal rights like other non-members.
The bright future of Egypt does not rest on the dominance of one group over another but by the collective aspiration, commitment and interests of the entire Egyptian nation.
*Henelito A. Sevilla, Jr is an Assistant Professor at the Asian Center, University of the Philippines, Diliman. He holds a Ph.D. in International Relations from the University of Tehran, a Master’s degree in International Relations from the University of Shahid Behesti, Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran and Bachelor of Science in International Relations at the King Faisal Center for Islamic, Arabic and Asian Studies, Mindanao State University, Marawi City, Philippines.