Members of the Republican Guards stand in line at a barricade blocking protesters supporting deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi near a Republican Guards headquarters in Cairo, July 9, 2013. (Reuters/Khaled Abdullah)
It’s looking more and more like the “popular uprising” that demanded the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi in Egypt was ginned up by Egypt’s establishment, including the military.
That’s not too surprising, but it does mean that the fractious civilian, anti-Islamist movement—including quarreling secular forces, liberals, youth and women—had better unite quickly to demand that the military step back from power.
Easier said than done. Already, many opposition leaders, especially the youth, are being squeezed out of the circles of power that are planning Egypt’s next phase:
The young activists behind the protests that led to last week’s military overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi fear they once again may be overshadowed by other political forces as Egypt stitches together a coalition government ahead of new elections.… They may now find—as they did in 2011—that the youth’s street power can’t easily be turned into political capital.
Let’s start with the revelations in today’s New York Times that the movement that called for Morsi’s ouster, Tamarod (“Rebellion”), was secretly backed by an Egyptian billionaire, and that the fuel shortages and rolling blackouts that did much to spark the mass demonstrations were phony. As the Times notes, those shortages and blackouts mysteriously disappeared once Morsi was out:
Working behind the scenes, members of the old establishment, some of them close to Mr. Mubarak and the country’s top generals, also helped finance, advise and organize those determined to topple the Islamist leadership, including Naguib Sawiris, a billionaire and an outspoken foe of the Brotherhood; Tahani El-Gebali, a former judge on the Supreme Constitutional Court who is close to the ruling generals; and Shawki al-Sayed, a legal adviser to Ahmed Shafik, Mr. Mubarak’s last prime minister, who lost the presidential race to Mr. Morsi.
Sawiris openly admitted his role:
Mr. Sawiris, one of Egypt’s richest men and a titan of the old establishment, said Wednesday that he had supported an upstart group called “tamarrod,” Arabic for “rebellion,” that led a petition drive seeking Mr. Morsi’s ouster. He donated use of the nationwide offices and infrastructure of the political party he built, the Free Egyptians. He provided publicity through his popular television network and his major interest in Egypt’s largest private newspaper. He even commissioned the production of a popular music video that played heavily on his network.