Islamist Mohammad Morsi accomplished what secular ex-Presidents Mubarak, Sadat, and Nasser dreamed of accomplishing: He managed to discredit the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest political party, as an organization that could govern the country. After a year of political strife in Egypt, Morsi and his Islamist supporters demonstrated to the Egyptian people that they were neither interested in sharing power with the opposition, nor eager to rebrand the Brotherhood as an inclusive political party for all Egyptians.
Instead, Morsi, the deposed ex-president, and his brethren at the Muslim Brotherhood, alienated the urban middle class, the secular democrats, the youth, and the educated elites—the very people who jumpstarted the 2011 revolution against another deposed president, Hosni Mubarak.
While we cautiously watch the military’s actions in Egypt, we must welcome the toppling of Morsi by the Egyptian armed forces. American support and leadership is vital for a gradual process of transition to democracy in Egypt. As the Egyptian military tries to restore order, and hopefully begin to pave the way for a smooth transition back to civilian rule, it finds itself with no better friend and no more of a trustworthy ally than the United States. The new generation of Egypt’s top military brass, including General. Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, the Chairman of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces, are Western, and primarily American educated. Gen. al-Sisi received a master’s degree from the US Army War College in Pennsylvania in 2006, and attended the UK Joint Service Command and Staff College in 1992.
Very much like its Iranian counterpart during the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the Egyptian military has deep ties to the United States, and the US has a great degree of leverage over top Egyptian officers. Learning from past mistakes, the Egyptian military did what the Iranian armed forces failed in achieving: preventing radical Islamists from consolidating power. Iranian military’s failure and unwillingness to stop the radicals in 1979 led to its own demise—hundreds of senior officers were executed while hundreds more fled the country.
As President Barack Obama said earlier today, wining elections alone is not enough to qualify as a democratic ruler. The most important element of democratic rule is how the winners treat the losers. And President Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood failed at that task.
This opinion piece was written by Arash Aramesh, a National Security Analyst and Juris Doctor candidate at Stanford Law School. He has published in the International Herald Tribune, the Huffington Post, the Majalla, G20 Seoul Summit Publication, and the Diplomatic Courier, among others. He appears frequently on BBC, AlJazeera English, and Sky World News. His can be found on Twitter at @ArameshArash.