Printemps arabe: L’Egypte vote à nouveau pour Noël (Like turkeys voting for Christmas)

https://i0.wp.com/www.frontrowgrunt.co.za/wp-content/uploads/turkeys-UKIP-VOTING-FOR-CHRISTMAS.jpgFeminists, Christians, Professors for Academic Freedom and Gays have only one country in the middle east that recognizes their human rights and respects their right to live openly as the people they are. That country is Israel.: Dry Bones cartoon.The Arab Spring was an exercise in irony, nowhere more so than in Egypt. On the surface, it appeared to be the Arab equivalent of 1989 in Eastern Europe. There, the Soviet occupation suppressed a broad, if not universal desire for constitutional democracy modeled on Western Europe. The year 1989 shaped a generation’s thinking in the West, and when they saw the crowds in the Arab streets, they assumed that they were seeing Eastern Europe once again. There were certainly constitutional democrats in the Arab streets in 2011, but they were not the main thrust. Looking back on the Arab Spring, it is striking how few personalities were replaced, how few regimes fell, and how much chaos was left in its wake. The uprising in Libya resulted in a Western military intervention that deposed former leader Moammar Gadhafi and replaced him with massive uncertainty. The uprising in Syria has not replaced Syrian President Bashar al Assad but instead sparked a war between him and an Islamist-dominated opposition. Elsewhere, revolts have been contained with relative ease. The irony of the Arab Spring was that in opening the door for popular discontent, it demonstrated that while the discontent was real, it was neither decisive nor clearly inclined toward constitutional democracy. The Egyptian uprising has always been the most ambiguous even while being cited as the most decisive. It is true that former President Hosni Mubarak fell in 2011. It is also true that elections were held in 2012, when a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood’s election as president highlighted the reality that a democratic election is not guaranteed to produce a liberal democratic result. (…) But the real issue in Egypt has always been something else. Though a general was forced out of office in 2011, it was not clear that the military regime did not remain, if not in power, then certainly the ultimate arbiter of power in Egyptian politics. Over the past year, so long as Morsi remained the elected president, the argument could be made that the military had lost its power. But just as we argued that the fall of Hosni Mubarak had been engineered by the military in order to force a succession that the aging Mubarak resisted, we can also argue that while the military had faded into the background, it remained the decisive force in Egypt. Stratfor
It’s a sign of how atrophied U.S. influence in Egypt has become under Mr. Obama that his views count for so little—assuming he has views at all. For the rest of us, the lesson from Egypt is that democracy may be a blessing for people capable of self-government, but it’s a curse for those who are not. There is a reason that Egypt has been governed by pharaohs, caliphs, pashas and strongmen for 6,000 years. The best outcome for Egypt would be early elections, leading to the Brotherhood’s defeat at the hands of a reformist, technocratic government with military support. The second-best outcome would be a bloodless military coup, followed by the installment of a reformist government. The chances for either outcome are slight. But the Brotherhood will not go quietly. Get ready for a bloody road ahead. Bret Stephens
For all his magnificent indignation against modern-day anti-Semitism, Mr. Nasr dismisses Israel as a colonialist error—an uncharacteristic concession to fashionable opinion on his part. But it is hard to see how a Muslim liberalism can advance without arriving at a deeper and more sympathetic understanding of Jewish history and Zionism. Political theory is another weak point: Mr. Nasr counts himself a libertarian and never explains why. This sort of thing, the offhand quality of Mr. Nasr’s opinions, may be OK for a blogger, and doubly OK for a student. But what will happen if, as Mr. Nasr expects, the Arab Spring arrives at still another phase, and liberals like him are given another chance? I hope they will be prepared. Paul Berman
Sadly, Egypt has been here before, in 1952. Political order had given way, the political parties of the constitutional monarchy were riddled with corruption, and the Muslim Brotherhood stood ready to feed on the chaos. In January of that year, mobs set to the torch much of modern Cairo. The army stepped in, « reluctantly » of course, to offer a reprieve. Egyptians had looked to the army for redemption and got dictatorship in return. It was to rule for six decades. More recently, in the aftermath of the 2011 fall of the Mubarak dictatorship, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces had the run of the country for 16 months. Its reign was an unhappy one, and the protesters who took to Tahrir Square wanted them back in their barracks. Liberals later gave Mr. Morsi, elected to the presidency in June 2012, no small measure of credit for reining in the power of the officer corps and for sacking Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the de facto strongman of the transitional period. In a note of supreme irony, the secular crowd now proclaims that « the people and the army and the police are one hand. » Yet the revolt that swept the old order in early 2011 had been motivated by a consuming hatred of the police. The police under Mubarak had been lawless, cruel and corrupt. They were seen by secularists and Islamists alike as thugs in uniform; torture and perversity ran rampant in their detention centers. Yet unlike its approach with the military, the Morsi government chose not to take on the police. Indeed, it gave them new weapons and financial concessions in the hope of pacifying them. They did not return the favor: Policemen have been out in the streets demonstrating against the government, and they have steadfastly refused to maintain public order. It is not a pretty bargain that the secularists strike with the army—and the police. The assumption is that this cynicism is warranted if it gets rid of the Muslim Brotherhood. But a larger price will be paid down the road. Fouad Ajami

L’Egypte serait-elle condamnée, à l’instar de la proverbiale dinde, à voter pour Noël ?

A l’heure, en ce 237e anniversaire de la démocratie américaine, où la place Tahrir s’enthousiasme à nouveau pour la mise au pas, par l’armée jusque là tant honnie, de sa première expérience démocratique …

Et où, de la Tunisie à la Libye et à la Syrie sans parler du Yémen et du Bahrein et le tout attisé par les frères ennemis qataris, saoudiens ou iraniens, le tant célébré « printemps arabe » tourne à l’hiver islamique voire au cauchemar …

Pendant qu’en Occident nos propres pères Noël nous refont le coup de la surprise devant l’échec largement prévisible du mariage de la carpe islamiste aussi tyrannique qu’incompétente et du lapin démocrate aussi dénué de programme que de leaders  …

Et qu’à l’instar de nos féministes, universitaires ou artistes qui n’ont que le boycott à la bouche, nos militants pro-homosexuels dénoncent pour cause de pinkwashing la « capitale homosexuelle du Moyen-Orient »

Comment ne pas voir, de coups d’état en dictatures avec ou sans uniforme à la pakistanaise, la réalité d’un pouvoir qui, depuis 60 ans, n’a finalement cessé de dépendre de la force militaire ?

Egypt on the Brink—With No Clear Way Back

It is not a pretty bargain that the secularists have struck with the military.

Fouad Ajami

The WSJ

In the mythology of Egypt, the Nile was the steady river, one that gave life but also one to be watched carefully. Too little water and the earth is scorched, the crops perish and civic order is undone. Too much water and havoc ensues, the granaries are destroyed and the people lose faith in their deities. The myth of a stable « hydraulic society » where the rulers were deities is at a great variance with the history of a land that has known ferocious rebellions, and that has so often fallen short of its expectations of deliverance.

There is no deliverance within sight for the untold numbers out in Egypt’s public squares today. The « street » shall not deliver order, adjudicate fundamental struggles between Egyptians keen to live in a secular state and those who have been biding their time to impose an Islamic order.

The world beyond the Nile River Valley is witnessing a standoff in the latest battle for the soul of the Arab Spring: the secularists, the modernists, call them what you will, who have flooded Cairo’s Tahrir Square, arrayed against the throngs gathered in support of the Muslim Brotherhood in the shadow of Rab’ah al-Adawiyah Mosque in Cairo’s Nasr district.

The mayadin (the squares) can’t say how Egypt ought to be ruled, yet this is what the country is left with. Coups, assassinations and the 30-year dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak robbed the country of the political vitality, and parliamentary practice, it had known for 30 years beginning in 1922 under a functioning constitutional monarchy. In the decades since the military coup of 1952, the country has been served an antimodernist fare by corrupt and nepotistic rulers. Egypt fell behind in the race of nations, grew poorer, more embittered, its ideas of its own specialness battered by harsh economic and social verdicts.

It is hard to remember now that this country was once on the Grand Tour, sought by travelers and literati the world over. The green spaces in its cities were eaten up by sprawl and numbers. That great Cairene, the Nobel laureate in literature, Naguib Mahfouz, once spoke of his city as though describing some place from antiquity: He had been born in 1911, Cairo had 700,000 inhabitants, Egypt as a whole less than 11 million people. No one is quite sure of the numbers now, the figure of 90 million is thrown around, and what grace Cairo once had can only by glimpsed in the newsreels and old movies of decades past.

Egyptians pride themselves on their country’s civility and good manners. Egypt is not Syria, they say, it is not riven by sectarian fault-lines and hatreds, its armed forces are not killer brigades fighting for a barbarous ruler. Nor is it Libya or Iraq. Egyptians console themselves that slaughter is not part of the nation’s tradition. They point to the final days of Mubarak, brought to court on a stretcher, and contrast it with the gruesome end of Moammar Gadhafi next door in Libya.

There is no end to the consolations. Egypt is not Iran, or the Wahhabi realm in the Arabian Peninsula: Faith is light and forgiving here, it was said. Islam came to an ancient country and had to reach an accommodation with a Coptic church indigenous to the land. Pharaonic, Coptic, Greco- Roman, and Islamic ideas and loyalties mixed in a country at the crossroads of continents. All of this is true, but the country is bereft, and may have exhausted its myths.

The turn to the army as a deus ex machina for a great, secular-Islamist split is the desperate recourse of a population in trouble. The Egyptian army’s proclamation on Monday that it would give President Mohammed Morsi 48 hours to « meet the demands » of the people would have been laughable had Egypt’s public life at the moment allowed for humor. On Tuesday, Mr. Morsi and his allies in the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party rejected the military’s ultimatum. Senior Brotherhood leader Muhammad al-Biltaji called on supporters to defend Mr. Morsi’s « legitimacy, » saying a coup would only succeed « over our dead bodies. »

Sadly, Egypt has been here before, in 1952. Political order had given way, the political parties of the constitutional monarchy were riddled with corruption, and the Muslim Brotherhood stood ready to feed on the chaos. In January of that year, mobs set to the torch much of modern Cairo. The army stepped in, « reluctantly » of course, to offer a reprieve. Egyptians had looked to the army for redemption and got dictatorship in return. It was to rule for six decades.

More recently, in the aftermath of the 2011 fall of the Mubarak dictatorship, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces had the run of the country for 16 months. Its reign was an unhappy one, and the protesters who took to Tahrir Square wanted them back in their barracks. Liberals later gave Mr. Morsi, elected to the presidency in June 2012, no small measure of credit for reining in the power of the officer corps and for sacking Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the de facto strongman of the transitional period.

In a note of supreme irony, the secular crowd now proclaims that « the people and the army and the police are one hand. » Yet the revolt that swept the old order in early 2011 had been motivated by a consuming hatred of the police. The police under Mubarak had been lawless, cruel and corrupt. They were seen by secularists and Islamists alike as thugs in uniform; torture and perversity ran rampant in their detention centers.

Yet unlike its approach with the military, the Morsi government chose not to take on the police. Indeed, it gave them new weapons and financial concessions in the hope of pacifying them. They did not return the favor: Policemen have been out in the streets demonstrating against the government, and they have steadfastly refused to maintain public order. It is not a pretty bargain that the secularists strike with the army—and the police. The assumption is that this cynicism is warranted if it gets rid of the Muslim Brotherhood. But a larger price will be paid down the road.

A young Egyptian engineer trained in Canada, a lyricist about his homeland, wrote to me a few days ago from Cairo about the standoff in the streets. He had gone to see the Tahrir Square crowd, and then the adherents of the Muslim Brotherhood. Tahrir Square, he wrote, was « technically weaker but had the momentum. » He sensed no fear there. The Muslim Brotherhood crowd had the power, but was nervous. « I guess we have reached the worst situation possible, two parties sure of winning. »

There is no iron law of stability and social peace in this former land of pharaohs. Pressed to the limit by an economy struggling to keep afloat, the Egyptian people have reached a reckoning. The chronicles telling of their country’s knack for survival, and for pulling back from the brink, will have to be read with caution.

E.M. Forster once memorably wrote of Egypt as a country accustomed to harmonizing contending assertions. In the days to come, and in the battle of the mayadin, that proposition will meet an unforgiving test.

Mr. Ajami is a senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution and the author most recently of « The Syrian Rebellion » (Hoover Press, 2012)

Voir aussi:

Ozymandias Returns

Will Mohammed Morsi join the pharaohs, caliphs, pashas and strongmen that came before him?

Bret Stephens

The WSJ

July 1, 2013

On Sunday millions of Egyptians poured into the squares and streets of Cairo, Alexandria and other cities to register intense dissatisfaction with their first freely elected government and demand President Mohammed Morsi’s resignation. On Monday the Egyptian military gave Mr. Morsi 48 hours to clean up his act, or else.

Democracy in Egypt has not been fun while it’s lasted.

Where do things go from here? The good news is that the political bloom is off the Islamist rose. The Muslim Brotherhood, so sure-footed when it came to seizing power, proved surprisingly ham-fisted when it came to consolidating it. Islam is the answer, goes the Brotherhood’s famous slogan—but not, as Egyptians are learning with each passing day, to the questions of how to shorten gas lines, or maintain public security, or attract foreign investment, or build foreign-exchange reserves.

There’s also good news in that the army remains a willing and viable check on the Brotherhood’s political power and street muscle. There were reasons to wonder about that after the military squandered much of its support with its long interregnum (and constitutional shenanigans) following Hosni Mubarak’s downfall, and then again after Mr. Morsi sacked Mubarak-era Defense Minister Mohamed Tantawi and replaced him with Abdel Fattah Al Sisi.

Yet Gen. Sisi proved he was his own man on Monday when he issued the ultimatum to his presumptive boss, warning that « if the people’s demands are not met [by Wednesday], the armed forces will announce a road map for the future and take a set of procedures and . . . oversee its implementation with the participation of all political forces. »

Sounds lovely. But then, as Napoleon told one of his generals, « if you start to take Vienna, take Vienna. » On Monday a spokesman for Gen. Sisi insisted the army was not threatening a coup, but what happens if Mr. Morsi calls his bluff?

In fact, Mr. Morsi must call the general’s bluff if he’s to retain the prerogatives of his office. And Gen. Sisi must make good on his threat—or else go to prison for gross insubordination. Perhaps there’s a face-saving compromise, like calling for a referendum on whether to hold early elections. But that would take months to arrange, and Egyptians are a people who have run out of patience. One side or the other will have to back down, humiliated, or there will be a confrontation.

If it’s the latter, it could be along the lines of Algeria’s savage civil war in the 1990s, also the result of a military coup after an Islamist electoral victory. Egypt today is awash in small arms, mainly from Libya and Sudan. The conscript army is not well-disciplined, as it showed in its brutal assault on Coptic protesters in Cairo in October 2011. Police forces are a power unto themselves. And the Brotherhood, willful and accustomed to operating as a secret organization, can call on the support of millions of Egyptians.

Nobody should want this outcome: The blood orgies of Syria are agony enough for the Middle East. What about the other choices?

There will be a temptation in the West to support Mr. Morsi on grounds that, for all of his political misjudgments, he is a legitimately elected leader trying to stand his ground against street mobs abetted by army generals. So far Mr. Obama has said little more about Egypt than to call for « restraint » on both sides. But he had flattering things to say about Mr. Morsi during last November’s Gaza crisis, and the default position in American diplomacy is always to support whoever is in power.

Then again, to support Mr. Morsi is to repeat the mistake Mr. Obama made in the first two years of his presidency, when U.S. policy amounted to flattering Hosni Mubarak. (Hillary Clinton, genius diplomat, went so far as to call the dictator a family friend in 2009.) At least the Mubarak regime could be described as secular and pro-American, and reasonably committed to peace with Israel. That doesn’t exactly describe Mr. Morsi, who showed he had all of Mr. Mubarak’s contempt for civil liberties with none of his talents for governance.

It’s a sign of how atrophied U.S. influence in Egypt has become under Mr. Obama that his views count for so little—assuming he has views at all. For the rest of us, the lesson from Egypt is that democracy may be a blessing for people capable of self-government, but it’s a curse for those who are not. There is a reason that Egypt has been governed by pharaohs, caliphs, pashas and strongmen for 6,000 years.

The best outcome for Egypt would be early elections, leading to the Brotherhood’s defeat at the hands of a reformist, technocratic government with military support. The second-best outcome would be a bloodless military coup, followed by the installment of a reformist government. The chances for either outcome are slight. But the Brotherhood will not go quietly. Get ready for a bloody road ahead.

Voir également:

The Next Phase of the Arab Spring

Analysis

Stratfor

July 3, 2013

The Arab Spring was an exercise in irony, nowhere more so than in Egypt. On the surface, it appeared to be the Arab equivalent of 1989 in Eastern Europe. There, the Soviet occupation suppressed a broad, if not universal desire for constitutional democracy modeled on Western Europe. The year 1989 shaped a generation’s thinking in the West, and when they saw the crowds in the Arab streets, they assumed that they were seeing Eastern Europe once again.

There were certainly constitutional democrats in the Arab streets in 2011, but they were not the main thrust. Looking back on the Arab Spring, it is striking how few personalities were replaced, how few regimes fell, and how much chaos was left in its wake. The uprising in Libya resulted in a Western military intervention that deposed former leader Moammar Gadhafi and replaced him with massive uncertainty. The uprising in Syria has not replaced Syrian President Bashar al Assad but instead sparked a war between him and an Islamist-dominated opposition. Elsewhere, revolts have been contained with relative ease. The irony of the Arab Spring was that in opening the door for popular discontent, it demonstrated that while the discontent was real, it was neither decisive nor clearly inclined toward constitutional democracy.

This is what makes Egypt so interesting. The Egyptian uprising has always been the most ambiguous even while being cited as the most decisive. It is true that former President Hosni Mubarak fell in 2011. It is also true that elections were held in 2012, when a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood’s election as president highlighted the reality that a democratic election is not guaranteed to produce a liberal democratic result. In any case, the now-deposed president, Mohammed Morsi, won by only a slim margin and he was severely constrained as to what he could do.

But the real issue in Egypt has always been something else. Though a general was forced out of office in 2011, it was not clear that the military regime did not remain, if not in power, then certainly the ultimate arbiter of power in Egyptian politics. Over the past year, so long as Morsi remained the elected president, the argument could be made that the military had lost its power. But just as we argued that the fall of Hosni Mubarak had been engineered by the military in order to force a succession that the aging Mubarak resisted, we can also argue that while the military had faded into the background, it remained the decisive force in Egypt.

Modern Egypt was founded in 1952 in a military coup by Col. Gamal Abdel Nasser. Nasser was committed to modernizing Egypt, and he saw the army as the only real instrument of modernization. He was a secularist committed to the idea that Arab nations ought to be united, but not Islamist by any means. He was a socialist, but not a communist. Above all else, he was an Egyptian army officer committed to the principle that the military guaranteed the stability of the Egyptian nation.

When the uprisings of the Arab Spring came, Nasser’s successors used the unrest to force Mubarak out, and then they stepped back. It is interesting to consider whether they would have been content to retain their institutional position under a Muslim Brotherhood-led government. However, Morsi never really took control of the machinery of government, partly because he was politically weak, partly because the Muslim Brotherhood was not ready to govern, and partly because the military never quite let go.

This dynamic culminated in the demonstrations of this « Egyptian Summer. » The opposition leadership appears to support constitutional democracy. Whether the masses in the streets do as well or whether they simply dislike the Muslim Brotherhood is difficult to tell, but we suspect their interests are about food and jobs more than about the principles of liberalism. Still, there was an uprising, and once again the military put it to use.

In part, the military did not want to see chaos, and it saw itself as responsible for averting it. In part, the military distrusted the Muslim Brotherhood and was happy to see it forced out of office. As in 2011, the army acted overtly to maintain order and simultaneously to shape the Egyptian political order. They deposed Morsi, effectively replacing him with a more secular and overtly liberal leadership.

But what must be kept in mind is that, just as in 2011, when the military was willing to pave the way for Morsi, so too is it now paving the way for his opposition. And this is the crucial point — while Egypt is increasingly unstable, the army is shaping what order might come out of it. The military is less interested in the ideology of the government than in containing chaos. Given this mission, it does not see itself as doing more than stepping back. It does not see itself as letting go.

The irony of the Egyptian Arab Spring is that while it brought forth new players, it has not changed the regime or the fundamental architecture of Egyptian politics. The military remains the dominant force, and while it is prepared to shape Egypt cleverly, what matters is that it will continue to shape Egypt.

Therefore, while it is legitimate to discuss a military coup, it is barely legitimate to do so. What is going on is that there is broad unhappiness in Egypt that is now free to announce its presence. This unhappiness takes many ideological paths, as well as many that have nothing to do with ideology. Standing on stage with the unhappiness is the military, manipulating, managing and containing it. Everyone else, all of the politicians, come and go, playing a short role and moving on — the military and the crowd caught in a long, complex and barely comprehensible dance.

Voir encore:

From Islamist to Freethinker

At age 19, Amir Ahmad Nasr was perched awkwardly between a politicized religious culture and modern skeptical rationalism.

Paul Berman

The WSJ

July 1, 2013

Amir Ahmad Nasr was born in 1986 in Sudan, but when he was still a little child his father’s career brought the family to Qatar and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and young Mr. Nasr began his education at Islamic schools in those places. Memorization of the Quran was the core curriculum. His teachers taught him that Jews drink the blood of children and conspire against Islam. On Fridays he said « amen » to prayers calling for the destruction of the Jews. He dreamed of heroism: « I wished I could die and martyr myself for Islam and occupied Palestine. »

He also learned English and, as a teenager in Kuala Lumpur, he took to roaming the Internet, where he came across blogs by liberal-minded young Muslims a few years older than himself. His Internet explorations offered an alternative education, which meant that, after a while, he hardly knew where he stood in regard to Islam, the Jews, the U.S. and the world in general. Nor did he know what culture was his own.

In a vivid passage in his coming-of-age memoir, « My Isl@m, » he confesses to a friend that he is losing faith in Islam, to which the friend responds: « I understand you’ve got your issues with all those idiotic bearded monkeys who belong in a zoo. Even I hate them and think they’re giving Islam a bad name, but what about the Book, dude? » The Book is the Quran, and the dialogue makes it clear that Mr. Nasr and his friend, while pondering theology in Malaysia, have adopted personalities drawn from American popular culture, and they are dude and dude, or bro and bro, and life is a rap song.

By the age of 19, Mr. Nasr was, in short, a young man perched awkwardly on the world’s largest tectonic fault line, which is the conflict between a traditional and sometimes politicized religious culture and the modern culture of skeptical rationalism, fatefully tinged with American ideas and American slang. Mr. Nasr came up with a brilliant way of coping with the awkward circumstance. He started a blog of his own, called « The Sudanese Thinker, » which allowed him to conduct his interior debate in public. « I ventured into the virtual desert to contemplate some truths and discuss the meaning of things, » he writes.

My Isl@m

By Amir Ahmad Nasr

(St. Martin’s, 322 pages, $26.99)

His memoir records the stages of his contemplation—his worried thoughts about Islam and anti-Semitism; his excited discovery of contemporary British and American atheist authors, especially Sam Harris; his resentful indignation at the hostility to Islam that seemed to him endemic on right-wing American blogs; his discovery of still other American writers who argued for flexible interpretations of religion, including his own religion; his joy at discovering a liberal philosophical school among the august thinkers of Sudanese Islam; and his resolve to make his own future contributions to a modernized and science-friendly Islam.

He looks into Sufi Islam, which, for all its spirit of tolerance, seems to him « nowhere near intellectually satisfying as I had hoped it would be, » not to mention marred by « blind guru-worship. » And then, upon further reflection, he finds himself thinking, « The Sufis, Islam’s mystics, were right. They were right! »—though he still doesn’t go for the guru-worship.

Meanwhile, as « The Sudanese Thinker, » he chatted with readers around the world and participated in online activist campaigns. Fame brought him invitations to Washington, D.C., Beirut and other glamorous places, where he met, as he says, « the crème de la crème of the Arab blogosphere. » And then, early in 2011, the Arab Spring went into bloom across the Middle East and North Africa, and, in the glorious early phase of the uprisings, his own little posse of sharp-tongued liberal bloggers turned out to be the revolutionary vanguard. From Malaysia, he even managed to play a useful role. The old Egyptian dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak tried to fend off the revolution by turning off the Internet. Mr. Nasr responded: « I loaded up my Internet browser, and readied my humble digital tools. » And the digital tools allowed him to circumvent the censorship.

As for the Arab Spring’s subsequent, less glorious phases—the rise of anti-liberal Islamist parties across much of the region—well, he takes a long view of revolutions, which I think is wise. He figures that today’s Muslim Brotherhood-dominated era won’t last forever. « Yes, there are challenges, but I think the fear barrier has been broken and that’s why we should be optimistic. »

« My Isl@m » displays the charm of a good blog—irreverent, nonchalant, open to fresh ideas, generous to other writers, ostentatiously unpretentious and secretly grandiose. Mr. Nasr appears to be convinced that his own intellectual trajectory—from medieval-style Quran-memorizing to thoughtful dude, digitally loquacious—reflects a deep trend in world history, with the Internet as prime mover. He never openly states this conviction. And yet it animates the book, and the possibility that he may be right imparts to his pages an electric glow, as if from an LCD screen.

Then again, a blogger’s frenetic life doesn’t lend itself to mastering the best which has been thought and said. Mr. Nasr’s ruminations on science and religion have led him to a pro-Darwin Christian evangelist in the U.S. named Michael Dowd, whose help he graciously acknowledges. Only, I wonder if Mr. Nasr is aware of how vast and profound is the literature on science-and-religion themes, and how varied are its currents.

For all his magnificent indignation against modern-day anti-Semitism, Mr. Nasr dismisses Israel as a colonialist error—an uncharacteristic concession to fashionable opinion on his part. But it is hard to see how a Muslim liberalism can advance without arriving at a deeper and more sympathetic understanding of Jewish history and Zionism. Political theory is another weak point: Mr. Nasr counts himself a libertarian and never explains why. This sort of thing, the offhand quality of Mr. Nasr’s opinions, may be OK for a blogger, and doubly OK for a student.

But what will happen if, as Mr. Nasr expects, the Arab Spring arrives at still another phase, and liberals like him are given another chance? I hope they will be prepared.

Mr. Berman is a senior editor of the New Republic and the author, most recently, of « The Flight of the Intellectuals. »

Voir par ailleurs:

Tamarod, la rébellion qui veut chasser les Frères musulmans du pouvoir

Sophie Anmuth

Slate Afrique

25/06/2013

La campagne cherche à faire démissionner le président islamiste Morsi à l’occasion des manifestations prévues le 30 juin prochain.

Elle se vante d’avoir recueilli 15 millions de signatures pour demander le démission du président Mohamed Morsi. Autrement dit plus que le total des voix qui a permis la victoire du candidat des Frères musulmans.

La campagne «Tamarod» ( rébellion) appelle les Egyptiens à «retirer leur confiance» au président issu des Frères musulmans, Mohamed Morsi, et à le forcer ainsi à démissionner, comme si le peuple était le parlement et pouvait voter contre le chef de l’Etat. La campagne reproche aux Frères musulmans d’avoir «augmenté le nombre des martyrs du peuple égyptien»: en effet depuis l’élection de Morsi des dizaines de personnes ont trouvé la mort dans des manifestations ou affrontements de nature politique ou sociale.

Indépendance

Elle les accuse aussi essayer d’intimider les figures de l’opposition avec des procès ou des campagnes dans les médias (contre par exemple Baradei ou Bassem Youssef). D’autres accusations sont plus tendancieuses, comme celle qui reproche au gouvernement de chercher à vendre l’Egypte à ses protecteurs (ici c’est le Qatar et son aide généreuse qui sont visés – sans davantage de preuves, il faut bien le dire).

La campagne «Tamarod» (Rébellion) a reçu le soutien du Front de Salut national, qui est une coalition de partis et figures de l’opposition, du parti du Dostour, par exemple (parti de l’ancien directeur de l’Agence internationale pour l’énergie atomique et opposant à Moubarak, Mohamed El Baradei), du groupe d’activistes du 6 avril (fondé en 2008), mais aussi des salafistes.

La Gamaa islamiya, elle, a lancé une contre-initative, incitant à l’«impartialité» et à la stabilité. «Tamarod» reçoit ces soutiens politiques plusieurs semaines après le début de ses activités, et se déclare indépendante de toute tendance politique.

Al’occasion de l’anniversaire de l’investiture de Mohamed Morsi, «Rébellion» a l’intention d’organiser une marche sur le palais présidentiel et de soumettre la pétition au procureur-général, afin d’exiger la démission du président. Des élections présidentielles anticipées —un an seulement après l’élection de Mohamed Morsi— pourraient alors avoir lieu.

Ecueils

Juridiquement, l’initiative n’est pourtant pas très viable. Les porte-paroles du parti des Frères musulmans, Liberté et Justice, nient toute importance à cette pétition et rappellent que seule vaut la légitimité des élections.

Le 16 mai dernier, une plainte a été déposée contre les organisateurs de la campagne: ils chercheraient à faire plonger le pays dans le chaos, détruire l’unité nationale. Un peu d’exagération. L’autre chef d’accusation, par contre, ne semble pas illégitime: chercher à renverser le gouvernement. Des campagnes de désobéissance civile ont été lancées régulièrement dans plusieurs villes d’Egypte notamment celles du Canal de Suez. Ici c’est à l’échelle nationale que le mouvement essaie de prendre forme.

Voir enfin:

Les Occidentaux pris de court par les évènements en Égypte

Renaud Girard

03/07/2013

Personne en Europe et aux États-Unis n’avait prévu la chute de Moubarak et la victoire électorale des Frères musulmans. Leur chute est également une surprise, compliquant encore les stratégies diplomatiques au Moyen-Orient.

Quand l’Égypte passa, dans les années 1950, d’un régime monarchique bon enfant à une dictature militaire nationaliste, les Occidentaux eurent déjà le plus grand mal à bien gérer le tournant. Comme s’il y avait une malédiction diplomatique propre au delta du Nil, soixante ans plus tard, les puissances occidentales sont à nouveau prises de court par les événements du Caire.

En 2011, personne, dans les Chancelleries et dans les universités américaines et européennes, n’avait prévu la chute de Moubarak, dans une révolution de rue que l’armée laissait faire. Ensuite, personne n’avait prévu une victoire électorale aussi massive des Frères musulmans, lesquels, après tout, n’avaient pris qu’en route la révolution. Enfin, à peine l’Amérique s’était-elle persuadée que les Frères musulmans, islamistes mais procapitalistes, étaient la bonne solution pour le monde arabo-musulman, à peine Washington avait-il persuadé ses alliés qu’il fallait partout au Moyen-Orient soutenir les Frères sunnites contre l’axe chiite présidé par l’Iran, que ce modèle se mettait à s’effriter dangereusement, en Tunisie d’abord, puis en Turquie, et maintenant en Égypte.

Quand les tentatives de prospective des ministères, des think-tanks et des médias se trouvent régulièrement démenties par les faits, le pilotage stratégique devient extrêmement difficile au Moyen-Orient, même si les Occidentaux ont renoncé au rêve néoconservateur d’y imposer l’État de droit par la force.

L’armée égyptienne formée, équipée et financée par les Américains

Ils ne manquent pas pour autant de leviers. Le premier est celui de l’armée égyptienne, formée, équipée et financée par les Américains, qui lui conseillent la modération et le «maintien d’une dynamique démocratique» dans le pays. Le secrétaire d’État John Kerry suit personnellement le dossier, lui qui a décidé de consacrer sa mandature à «l’arc de crise» en général et au Levant en particulier. Quand le Quai d’Orsay appelle de ses vœux un «signe démocratique fort» venant du Caire, il est en plein accord avec le département d’État américain et le Foreign Office britannique. Il s’agit de constituer un gouvernement d’union nationale, où entreraient des technocrates compétents et des personnalités de l’opposition anti-islamiste.

L’opposition n’a ni leader, ni programme

Les Occidentaux ne peuvent aller plus loin dans leurs initiatives, car ils ont constaté l’aporie devant laquelle se trouve l’opposition. Cette dernière est la simple addition des anti-islamistes classiques et des déçus de Morsi, qui avaient cru aux promesses de restauration économique et sociale du président Frère musulman. Les foules sont nombreuses dans la rue, mais l’opposition n’a ni leader, ni programme, ni ciment idéologique. Les Occidentaux le regrettent, mais elle n’est pas pour le moment une solution de remplacement!

Paris, Londres et Washington ne veulent pas d’élections immédiates dans une atmosphère aussi chaude. Mais ils sont conscients qu’il est devenu presque impossible à Morsi de finir tranquillement son mandat.

3 Responses to Printemps arabe: L’Egypte vote à nouveau pour Noël (Like turkeys voting for Christmas)

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