A Coptic intellectual has described the Egyptian army’s removal of President Morsi as a coup d’état and predicted that a counter-coup has to be expected. This, said Rafik Habib, will lead to the return of the democratically-elected government.
Morsi was ousted after the army issued a statement on July 3 appointing the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court as the country’s interim president and suspending the constitution. Although the army and its supporters claim that the move was made after massive public demonstrations against the Muslim Brotherhood president, there is evidence now that elements of the disgraced Mubarak regime have been conspiring against Morsi for many months and are behind the coup.
Habib is a former adviser to Morsi and deputy leader of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party. In a study titled “The Military Coup… a Setback or the End?” he wrote, “The military coup did not come about spontaneously but it had been planned ahead, a fairly long time ago.” He blamed the “deep state” remnants of Mubarak’s regime for what happened, saying that they were “still in control of the state”, especially “the police, army and judiciary”.
Pointing to the efforts to “obstruct” the president and his government, Habib pointed to the artificial creation of fuel crises to inflame public anger against Morsi. Those behind the coup also spread rumours and hatred as they sought to demonise the Muslim Brotherhood, he said.
“What happened was a military coup with approval from the US and support from the Arab Gulf [States]”, insisted Habib. “There are countries that do not want a successful democratic, Islamist model that could overthrow their own religious but non-democratic cover, like Saudi Arabia; and there are Arab countries that fear the economic competition with Egypt due to its geographic location, like the UAE; and there are countries that fear the expansion of the political Islam model if it is successful in Egypt.”
The United States, he continued, does not want a non-secular regime in Egypt. “Nor does it want a government which can produce its own food, medicine and arms.” What happened, wrote Habib, proves that the US administration did not support the Muslim Brotherhood and is trying to exercise all kinds of pressure so that whoever takes over in Cairo will be a US ally.
The ex-FJP official criticised the measures adopted by the interim Egyptian authorities after Morsi’s ouster, including the closure of a number of Islamic TV channels and the dissolution of the Upper Chamber of Parliament, the Shura Council, which had a temporary legislative role until the election of the House of Representatives.
“The most coherent institution in Egypt is the army,” said Habib, “but there are complex problems within it.” While the army is very much part of Egyptian society and does not oppose the country’s Islamic identity, its concept of national security is based on the state’s secularism. “As such, Islamism threatens regional security and stability as far as the army is concerned.”
Habib rejected the army’s claim that it issued the July 3 statement in response the people’s demands: “The army sided with one section of the people against another, and there is nothing more dangerous than the armed forces taking sides because this places them at the heart of the political struggle.”
There are a number of objectives for the coup noted by Habib: restricting the articles in the constitution relating to Islamic identity with the Western human rights conventions; giving the army a political role so that it becomes a protector and overseer of political legitimacy; deepening the army’s independence as an institution free from civilian accountability or authority; separating other institutions such as the judiciary and the police from public accountability; and reinforcing the deep state’s control over the state institutions. To these can be added the following: securing the corrupt networks and files of the Mubarak regime from any accountability or prosecution; adopting police state policies for the control of the political process and putting political freedom under the supervision of the security agencies; adopting policies to prevent Islamists’ political freedom and ability to grow; and imposing direct and indirect control over the media.
Habib predicted that a counter-coup will override this military coup. “The freedom that followed the January revolution will remain as a beacon of hope for a broad segment of Egyptian society that wants to reclaim it and restore the elected regime.”