|Good things happen in the Middle East, too|
|The Arab Spring proved to be a failure in Syria. President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, supported by China, Iran and Russia, still survives despite the massacres it commits.|
Assad does not care about the murder of innocent people, the risk of dividing the country or the further destabilization of the Middle East.
At the same time, Yemen is going through a difficult process: Attempts to achieve unity after the fall of Ali Abdullah Saleh have failed so far. Blood is still being spilled.
A long time will be needed before stability is achieved in Tunisia and Libya, both of which recently held free elections.
Mohamed Mursi, the first democratically elected leader of Egypt, which saw a period of collapse during the Mubarak era, is taking strong and decisive steps towards democratization and economic stability.
At a time when analysts were waiting for a grand power struggle to start in Egypt, Mursi made a surprise decision and attempted to reconfigure the army, the more powerful partner in the administration.
He issued a decree dismissing a number of high-level army commanders, including former Defense Minister Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, who played a crucial role in the continuation of the Mubarak regime in Egypt.
Additionally, Mursi annulled the Constitutional Declaration, which had enabled the Supreme Military Council, in which these generals acted as members, to be a part of the administration. Now, Mursi is expected to purge influential figures who were close to the Mubarak regime, including former generals, intelligence and security officers, from the state apparatus.
It is crucial for the consolidation of democracy in the country for Mursi to redesign the military and security units and make them responsible for the protection of borders and national security alone. In fact, with these steps, Mursi may prove he does not need to imitate the Turkish experience to achieve success in the process of democratization.
The primary reason Turkey has been suggested as a model for Arab Spring countries is its ability to balance Islam and democracy. Unless he creates the Iranian-style democratic structure of which Egypt’s left wing, seculars and Christians are afraid, Egypt could become a stronghold for democracy in the region.
However, by some measures, Mursi also raises serious concerns. These include censorship of the media and excessive restrictions. The harsh measures imposed against the Al-Dustur daily, which attracted attention with its mostly exaggerated and sensationalist reports against Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood, pro-government newspapers’ refusal to publish articles by certain columnists and allegations that some of the top executives in some influential papers were picked from among supporters of Muslim Brotherhood are some of the examples of Mursi’s poor record.
The greatest challenge for Mursi is the economy. Even though he is taking big steps towards democracy, if he fails in the field of the economy, Mursi will never succeed in minimizing the tension in the country. Democratization efforts will not be attractive to people if tension remains. Unless the people become rich and receive proper services, Mursi will not be able to transform the country.
Mursi, who has the support of the Muslim Brotherhood movement, which has been an influential player in providing health, schooling and other social services for many years, has to consider the demands and needs of the 75 percent of people who did not vote for him. Otherwise, domestic peace will not be achieved.
The situation in the Sinai Peninsula is a great challenge for Mursi. It is likely that the deep state, as well as Israel, may sponsor provocative incidents and attacks in this region in an attempt to undermine Mursi’s image.
In the 1990s, there were attempts in Turkey to prove that Iran was responsible for unsolved assassinations and murders in order to make the people believe that there was the threat of fundamentalist terror. In this way, the deep state was able to control the state and put pressure upon those who were religious.
A similar scenario is being staged in the Sinai Peninsula now. Through attacks obviously sponsored by Israel and the deep state, the relevant actors may want to intensify the pressure upon Egypt and make the Bedouins hostile to the system in the country. By careful steps and serious policies, the Mursi administration may address the main issues in the region. The first step of these policies and measures could be the introduction of measures and regulations towards the military and security units that are responsible for the political, social and security policies in the region.
Mursi gave initial signs that he could do this by the removal of Tantawi. Egypt, as well as its first democratically elected president, has to remain cautious and careful in order to sail safely through the dangerous waters of the Middle East.