They say that revolutions devour their children, so we can imagine what the case must be with counter-revolutions based on treachery and deception. The heroes of the so-called 30 June Revolution are either detained, hiding in their homes awaiting arrest at any moment under any excuse, have fled the country, or erred on the side of caution and officially announced their resignation from politics, such as Air Marshal Ahmed Shafik, who was banned from running in the presidential elections. He was a main pillar of the counter-revolution. He even admitted in a televised interview that he played a role in the coup, and blamed the ruling government, which he helped put in office, for ignoring him, despite the efforts he made in preparing for the coup. He also said that the meetings to plan the coup took place at his home in Dubai with the US ambassador present.
With the drying up of the sources of political life that Egypt is currently experiencing, there has also been a security crackdown on every aspect of life. This extends to anyone who utters a word about the government, even if they were affiliated with the said government and supported it. Hence, the arrest of Ambassador Masoum Marzouk, who proposed the latest in the series of initiatives raining down on us, was not surprising. The most important incident in his arrest was his demand to the government to hold a referendum regarding its staying in post or resignation; if the government did not respond to his initiative, he said, he would consider its silence to be a rejection and would call on the masses to rally on Friday, 31 July, in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
I have pointed out that this initiative actually benefited the government, and Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi himself, with all his ambition to consolidate his position, has not proposed such a thing, which strengthens him and strengthens his foundations. All state departments and institutions are under his control and the power is in his hands. He also controls the army, the police and the media, so if he had responded to Marzouk by holding a referendum, he would have received 99.999 per cent of the votes, just like the results of the referendums held during Gamal Abdel Nasser’s time as President of the Republic. Al-Sisi is obsessed with that period, when Egypt was ruled with iron and fire, and he has gone far beyond his inspiration.
However, Al-Sisi’s government could not tolerate one of its supporters presenting such an initiative, which aims for reform within the system and was not a coup against it. The president does not want any political move, however innocent, within the system, given that he has more or less erased the word “political” from the government lexicon. He has even said on several occasions, “I am not political.” The political parties are no longer decoration, as they were during the rule of deposed President Hosni Mubarak, from which an opposition was formed from within, carefully fabricated and put together under the watchful eye of the government in order to act as a release for public anger. They are lifeless and cannot be revived.
After the regime got rid of its opponents in the 2013 Rabaa Al-Adawiyya and Al-Nahda massacres, and other mass killings around that time, survivors were thrown into prison. Now the government is paranoid about its own supporters and those who backed Al-Sisi and put him in power. Marzouk and Dr Yahya Al-Qazzaz — the media spokesman for the Tamaroud intelligence movement, which was funded by the UAE, and paved the way for Sisi’s coup — along with three others, were arrested, although they all incited against democratically-elected President Dr Mohamed Morsi and demanded the army’s intervention. The government used them as civilian cover to adorn Sisi in front of the world and make the military coup look like a popular revolution.
Although they all have a deep hatred for the Muslim Brotherhood — made obvious in their speeches and writings — they still consider what took place on 30 June 2013 to be a revolution; they take pride in the sin that they committed when they claim that they are the civilian force that believes the ballot box. In his last television interview, Marzouk denied that what happened was a coup; he called it a “conflict”. None of this was enough for the coup-led government, so the fate of him and his peers was like everyone else’s; they were imprisoned. It is ironic that they were accused of assisting a terrorist group in achieving its goals (a reference to the Brotherhood) and involvement in a criminal agreement designed to commit a terrorist crime. There is further irony in the fact that these same individuals referred to the movement as terrorists in line with government policy.
It has become clear that the government is now hostage to its obsession with the Muslim Brotherhood and “Ikhwanophobia” which makes it feel that even those who are the closest and most loyal, who want to advise and guide the regime, are paid by the movement. When that is the case, we can imagine how the regime must feel about those who are opposed to its domestic and foreign policies, and call for freedom. The media machine swings into action and brands them as part of the Brotherhood, and charges are laid against them. Some are accused of forming a terrorist group, like the left-leaning Dr Gamal Abdel Fattah and his comrades who have languished in prison for months. The jails are not only filled with those affiliated with the Islamist movement, but also anyone who demands freedom, regardless of where they stand on the political spectrum.
The people of Egypt have been divided since the military coup, as one of the pro-coup singers said: “We are a people and you are a people.” Egypt now has two peoples living side by side, as has been evident from many situations and crises. This was manifest when Marzouk and his colleagues were arrested; some people sympathised with them, such as the elites who hate the Brotherhood and the Islamists in general, while others were happy. This is despite the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood condemned the arrests and demanded their release.
However, many Brotherhood members and supporters attacked its statement and described it as a disappointment, as Marzouk’s hands have been stained with the blood of the Egyptians and the latest detainees are part of the reason why Egypt is where it is today. Of course, those who are disappointed includes people who lost family members and friends in the massacres, or they are in prison.
Most people, though, are crushed by their own countless concerns and problems and are suffering economically, and so haven’t paid much attention to this entire issue. Some of them may not even know the names of those like Marzouk who have been detained, or even who they are, as they did not have grassroots support. They are like all of the political elites in Egypt whose nominal prominence is created behind television screens and who live in ivory towers. They are merely voices, nothing more, but have still become a cause for concern for the regime.
This proves that it is a fragile entity, despite its unprecedented regional and international support and despite the fact that the international community has turned a blind eye to all of its crimes. However, the government is shaken by any criticism or advice, and demands everyone to sing from the same song sheet while its corrupt media remains deluded by illusions and lies. Failure to toe the line in this way means the even supporters become dissident outlaws who must be prosecuted. In Egypt, everyone is under arrest in one way or another.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.