June 14, 2012 – 4:17 pm – by Barry Rubin, PJ MEDIA
The Egyptian Supreme Constitutional Court has just invalidated the parliamentary election there. The parliament, 75 percent of whose members were Islamists, is being dissolved. The military junta has taken over total authority. The presidential election is still scheduled for a few dozen hours from now.
In short, everything is confused and everything is a mess. All calculations are thrown to the wind. What this appears to be is a new military coup.
Yes, it is under legal cover but nobody is going to see it as a group of judges-appointed by former President Husni Mubarak, remember–looking deep into the law books and coming up with a carefully reasoned decision based on precedent. No. This will be seen by every Islamist–whether Salafi or Muslim Brotherhood–and by most of the liberals, who feel closer to the Islamists than to the government, as if the 2011 revolution has just been reversed.
Prediction: massive violence.
With typical journalistic “neutrality” CNN’s Ben Wedeman reported from Cairo, “Those who don’t want to see a return to the oppression of the past…are very unhappy with this ruling.” Well, what about the people who don’t want a radical Islamist regime and a Sharia state become the oppression of the future?
Still, the fact that the court ruled that “establishment” candidate Ahmad Shafiq can run for president will further a perception that this is a conspiracy to return to the pre-revolutionary situation.
I’m not saying that the armed forces told the justices to make such a ruling. But clearly by backing it up the generals are declaring their willingness to confront the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists rather than let them take power. Is there a precedent for this? You bet there is:
In 1991 the Islamic Salvation Front was on the verge of gaining victory. Before the second round could be held the army staged a coup to stop the election. The resulting war lasted more than a decade–in some respects it’s still continuing today. Cost in lives? 150-200,000 in a country whose population was about one-third that of contemporary Egypt. You do the math.
That doesn’t mean Egypt will be the same but this is something to be taken seriously. Consider:
–The decision virtually wipes out the much-vaunted “Arab Spring” and all the claims for a basic transition that have been claimed.
–This event poses a huge problem for the Obama Administration and I’ll bet one that has caught it by surprise. Does the U.S. government condemn the military and put sanctions on it, demanding that the Muslim Brotherhood be put into power? There is no easy solution. But we are likely to have the strange situation of an American president fighting to put into power an anti-American, anti-Christian, antisemitic political force that is opposed to all U.S. interests because–after all–they did win the election.
–What if Shafiq wins the presidency? Will the armed forces line up behind him and we will be back in 1952 when the military created a dictatorship and suppressed the Muslim Brotherhood? In other words, the entire “Arab Spring” would have been a temporary detour and things will return to the path they would have taken if there had been no revolution and an ailing Mubarak was simply replaced back in 2011 by the establishment’s choice for president.
–And what if the Brotherhood’s candidate wins the presidency? Is the military really going to let him rule?