Special Reports

Lecture on the current situation in Egypt

New Delhi. Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan, editor of The Milli Gazette, delivered a lecture here on 3 May at the Jamaat-e Islami Hind headquarters on the current  situation in Egypt. Dr Khan first dwelt upon the historical background of the present upheaval in the Arab world. He said that the Arab people are fed up of their rulers' corrupt and autocratic practices, and yearn for freedom and democracy.

Dr Khan said that popular movements in the Arab world for the last one hundred years have been trying to throw away the yoke of Sykes-Picot system imposed on them after the First World War. This long-drawn struggle may be divided into three stages. Firstly, shortly after the First World War to 1921 when Arab agitation forced the British to create Emirate of Transjordan and Kingdom of Iraq in order to placate Sharif Husain of Makkah who was promised to be made King of the Arabs if he joined the revolt against the Ottomans during the First World War. The second stage started after the Second World war and led to a number of revolts and military coups to get rid of the Sykes-Picot system of exploitation based on local satraps working under powerful foreign powers like Britain and France in the beginning and the Americans after the Second World War. The Soviet interregnum from mid-1950 to the 1980s did not change this equation. The current movement started three years ago from Tunisia where the popular regime still holds while the bigger success in Egypt has been overturned by the deep state and army in cooperation with foreign powers, especially some Gulf countries and the US.

Dr Khan said that all Arab political movements have been basically to get rid of the Sykes-Picot regime and establish real people's democracy, and civil and human rights.

Dr Khan said that the movement in Egypt should not be construed or termed to have failed. Though the military has regained power, outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, killed thousands of protesters and thrust some 22,000 people in jails, anti-coup protests continue unabated since 3 July last year which is a world record. Dozens of protest marches come out of various locations in the country almost every second or third day despite outlawing demonstrations and despite murder and arrests of protesters by security forces and goons of the deep state.

Dr Khan said Dr Mursi government committed mistakes which led to its downfall. He pointed to three main factors which went against Dr Mursi-led government. Firstly, the media was left totally uncontrolled. A hoard of media houses and new newspapers came up and started pouring in a heavy daily dose of propaganda and ridicule against Morsi government. Secondly, Dr Mursi could not contain or purge the sympathisers and the main functionaries of the previous regime which he called the "deep state". When Mubarak left, powers were not transferred to any constitutional body but the army through the Supreme Council of Armed Forces which actually ran the government until Dr Mursi's election after more than a year. Mursi only succeeded in removing the chief of the army but chose a person who led the coup against him only a year later. Lastly, there is a triangle of strategic interests in every Arab government to successfully run the state and this force may be called the deep state. Dr Khan said that a triumvirate — the deep state, western strategic interests and the interests of the Gulf states including Saudi Arabia to save their autocratic regimes and survive — came together to topple Mursi and Muslim Brotherhood's regime. Dr Khan said unless a regime is able to manage such inner and outer forces, it cannot survive for long. With little experience and expertise, Dr Mursi was unable to deal with these interests successfully.

Coming to the current situation in Egypt, Dr Khan condemned the mass capital punishments being meted out wholesale against supporters of Dr Mursi on flimsy grounds. He opined that this might be to instill fear in the hearts of the opposition and pro-Mursi demonstrators. Protests are continuing all over Egypt despite these tactics and, importantly, these protests are not led only by MB people. There are thousands and thousands of ordinary people who are protesting for their rights and for real democracy. These protests are not being held in Cairo only but all over Egypt at hundreds of different places despite most brutal reprisals.

Dr Khan said, a moderate estimate says there have been at least 7000 casualties after the overthrow of the Mursi government. News are not coming out because of the media censorship and hundreds of journalists including foreigners are in jails for covering these developments, he said adding that the Egyptian economy is in dire straits and the ruling generals despite all the Gulf aid will not be able to sustain it for long. (Nadim Ahmad)

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 May 2014 on page no. 13

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