The army and the judiciary are intervening in the country’s politics and the fault lines between liberals, conservatives and secularists are growing deeper. They cannot agree on what should be drafted into a new constitution. It is unknown whether the parliamentary system or semi-presidential system will be preferred. The economy has hit rock-bottom. All fields from health to education and from tourism to culture are being threatened with this imminent economic crisis.
Egypt is facing the same problems, only more dangerous, that Turkey has been struggling with for many years and is only now taking steps towards resolving.
In order to deal with these problems Egypt needs a Turgut Özal or a Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. In the 1980s Özal introduced Turkey to the ways of achievement and following this path, in the 2000s Erdoğan took important steps towards resuscitating a shrinking economy and cementing political stability in Turkey.
The common features of both leaders are that they are both pious, charismatic and have the typological profile of “man of the people.” They embraced all groups within society and did not exclude anyone. Their attitudes weren’t based on their prejudices. They didn’t commit to the West or the East by conducting a one-dimensional foreign policy. They didn’t chase utopias. Improvement of the country was the core object of their program.
Egypt urgently needs such a leader who bears these characteristics. Is there such a leader bearing these qualities among the existing candidates? It is really hard to answer this question. What we do know is that the country needs a leader with a particular profile who can lead his government and gain the confidence of the people.
This leader has a very specific set of attributes. First of all, he needs to be from a religious background but not use religion as a reference in his discourse. He needs to try to keep an equal distance from all groups and not scare anyone. He must also not be from among the politicians of the old generation. He must have spent all his life in a political struggle. He must have been exposed to the oppression of the regime for years, but held his ground. He must use cautious language in his economic discourse. He must not have a reactionary attitude toward sensitive issues such as banking, interest, commercial relations with the West and tourism. He must try to take the existing balances (constituents) in the country into consideration and not take anyone on. In international affairs he must persistently avoid discourse that may drag the country into problems.
It is already clear who this person is.
For Egypt to overcome the deadlock it is facing, it should try to get through the constitution-drafting process and presidential elections without causing a bigger crisis. In the end, the ruling powers should consider the interests of the country superior to their interests. No doubt the efforts of the army, which directly intervened in the constitution-drafting process and in determining the presidential candidates, to keep its power will severely harm the country.
When Turkey began to limit the power of the army, the country began to make economic, political and diplomatic progress. For years the Turkish Army introduced itself as the ultimate guardian of stability and solidarity in the country. It moved under the assumption that Turkey would be ruined if it took a back seat. Now we are witnessing the Egyptian army’s attempt at spreading the same type of idea.
The intervention of the Egyptian army, whose main responsibility is to defend the country, in politics will always cause deep rifts among the public. It should avoid political intervention. Similarly, the Muslim Brotherhood should also act sensibly. As seen in the process of assigning the 100 members to the Constituent Assembly who will draft the constitution, the Muslim Brotherhood should keep in mind all constituents within the country. Or else unnecessary tension occurs in the country. In a country where the majority of people have not yet voted or cannot fully appreciate the value of the ballot box, the Muslim Brotherhood should be aware of the extent to which gained votes reflect democracy.
Undoubtedly, the biggest danger awaiting the leaders who will govern Egypt is the economic problem. Egypt’s current situation is like or may even be worse than the situation of Turkey during its 2001 economic crisis.
The majority of the people are very poor, and can’t survive without subsidies from the state. Exports and investments are too low for a giant country with a population of 90 million. Healthcare and educational services are about to cease. Municipalities are on the verge of bankruptcy. The amount of a retirement pension is almost the same as the cost of a rich person’s meal, and the same can be said about workers’ wages.
In short, any government that will assume the duty of ruling the country will lie on a bed of nails. And for this government to be successful, political tensions should end as soon as possible.