Turkey on the Nile
Egypt 2013 appears as a state with no solution. On the one hand the economy is collapsing and rapidly approaching meltdown. On the other hand there’s no civilian force to impose law and order.
The week that Hosni Mubarak was ousted, a senior Israeli official was asked what would happen in Egypt. The official answered in his favorite language, English: Turkey one, Turkey two or Iran - a seemingly democratic government run by the army, a seemingly democratic government run by Islam, or an Islamist regime.
Two and a half years later, the possibility of getting an Iran in Egypt can clearly be ruled out. The Nile country will not become a theocracy ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood in the near future. But from the beginning of 2011, the other two possibilities have been vying with each other in Cairo.
What is happening before our eyes is a well organized Egyptian attempt to replace the new Turkish alternative of religious rule in democratic guise with the old Turkish alternative of military rule in democratic guise.
But as Turkey one replaces Turkey two, a third option emerges - disorder. While the Islamic threat to Egypt’s future is diminishing, the new, growing threat is one of chaos. The good news is very good - political Islam is not invincible. The religious wave that flooded the Middle East in the past two years is not the last historic wave.
As of today, the Muslim Brotherhood failed to establish a lasting regime and a lasting reality. While the Soviet revolution founded a tyranny that lasted 70 years, the Sunni Islamic revolution didn’t set up a functioning political system to preserve its hegemony for even one year. Anyone who feared a century of dark caliphates was wrong. Anyone who believed in the new Egyptians’ life forces and desire for freedom was right. Within an extremely short time our neighbors from the south learned that Islam is not the solution, and that they must seek the solution elsewhere.
But the bad news is troubling. Egypt 2013 appears as a state with no solution. On the one hand the economy is collapsing and rapidly approaching meltdown. On the other hand there’s no civilian force to impose law and order. The expectations of the Google age are high, while the reality of hungry mouths is intolerable. Between the expectations and reality there is no meeting point, and between the spirit of freedom and the crumbling republic there is no starting point.
Consequently, Egypt is becoming a dysfunctional, hopeless, ungovernable state. Where Mubarak and Morsi failed, another failure is very likely. Two different trends dovetail at the pyramids’ foot. One is global - a rebellion of the urban middle class. What began in Tahrir, moved to Rothschild, erupted in Istanbul and boiled over in Rio De Janeiro has returned to Tahrir in a big way. As in the rest of the world, in Egypt the youngsters connected to the Internet are no longer willing to accept not being connected to the spigots of the government, and are therefore toppling it.
The second trend is an Arab one - the collapse of secular tyranny and the failure of religious tyranny have generated constant unrest. In the absence of a strong dictator, an intelligent Kadi or a Jeffersonian democracy, there is nobody to regulate public life and restrain the masses.
The merging of global rebellion with the Arab loss of fear has released in Cairo 2013 a concussion blast no regime can withstand. Not the previous regime, not the present one nor the next one. In the absence of a government, an exciting, terrifying situation of uprisings was created - uprisings that are leading Egypt to the brink of an abyss.
Ultimately, the only chance is Turkey one. In the present day Egypt and present day Middle East, anyone hoping for more than enlightened generals can give - will get less. But the question whether the Egyptian army will be able to give the people modern enlightenment remains open. Chaos crouches on the threshold. The new danger hovering over the Middle East is that of complete disorder.