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Policy Analysis 11 December, 2013

The Battle to Rule Egypt: The Army against the Brotherhood

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Amani Al Tawil

Amani Al Tawil is a researcher and expert on Sudanese affairs at the Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies (ACPSS). She is a member of the Egyptian Council for African Affairs and a member of the board of directors of the Center for Sudanese Studies at the Institute for African Studies at Cairo University. Al Tawil served as a consultant for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Sudan between 2005 and 2006 and was a visiting scholar at the Elliot School of International Relations at George Washington University in Washington DC in 2009 and 2010. She has also lectured on the political history of Sudan and several other African countries in Ein Shams University Cairo between 2004 and 2006. Al Tawil took part in authoring the ‘Arab Strategic Report’ and ‘Economic and Strategic Trends’ both published by Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies. She has also coauthored ‘Water Security and Regional Changes in the Nile Basin’ which is due to be published by the Al Ahram Center. She has also authored a book on ‘The Role of the Egyptian Elite Before the July (1952) Revolution’ published by Dar Al Shorouk in Cairo in 2007 as well as coauthoring ‘The State of Women in Egypt: A Study of Representation in Leading Posts’ which was published by Al Ahram Center.
Al Tawil has helped organize and taken part in several workshops and scientific conferences on African affairs in general and Sudanese affairs in particular held by Al Ahram Center as well as other Egyptian Sudanese Arab and American institutions. She also writes for a number of Egyptian newspapers including Al Ahram Al Masry Al Youm Al Shorouq Al Wafd alongside the Sudanese Al Akhbar and Al Ahdath the Qatari Al Sharq and other newspapers. She is often hosted by Egyptian and Arab satellite channels to comment on current affairs. Al Tawil earned her doctorate from Ein Shams University for her thesis on Egyptian-Sudanese relations.

Introduction

Egypt’s struggle to democratize appears highly convoluted and complex. Its details are governed by the weighty historical legacy that frames Egyptian identity. The 2011 Revolution and its aftermath may be leading toward a resolution of the century-old conflict between three intellectual visions of the modern Egyptian state. The first favors the various models and ideas for the Islamic Caliphate—from al-Afghani and Mohammed Abdu to Rashid Rida and Hassan al-Banna. The second favors the European version of modernity, and finds its champions in Taha Hussein and Tawfiq al-Hakim. The third vision talks of a uniquely Egyptian mix promoted by Lutfi al-Sayyid and was fully developed by its true champion, Gamal Hamdan, who coined the term Shakhsiyyat Misr, referring to a unique Egyptian identity.

Against this background, Egyptian political developments since June 30, 2013 have provoked enormous debate, domestically and abroad, that is marked by the polarization between these historical divisions, except that two camps, those promoting Egyptian identity and those European modernity, have dug in together against the partisans of the Islamic Caliphate in their varied party and intellectual formations. In the current struggle, the Islamist camp tenaciously rejects the course of recent events, which it considers to be a coup against legitimacy and a war against Islam. The other side, however, sees it as the will of the people, who employed democratic means and were backed by the armed forces—one of the pillars of Egyptian patriotism.

The role of Egypt’s old and new media in mobilizing public opinion and formulating policy will be circumvented in this analysis in the hope that a sociological analysis of Egypt’s changes may be a more effective way to ensure objectivity and impartiality and achieve a realistic assessment of the drives and mechanisms for change in Egypt, and the likelihood of a democratic transition driving progress materializing in Egypt. This assessment provides an interpretation of why the Brotherhood lost power in Egypt after just one year and an investigation into Egypt’s chances to achieve real democratic transition.

*This study was originally published in the September 2013 issue of Siyasat Arabia (pp. 24-30), published by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies (ACRPS).

It was translated by the ACRPS Translation and English Editing Department. The original Arabic version can be found here.

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