The Difficulty of Sowing Democracy in Egypt

The Difficulty of Sowing Democracy in Egypt  

Does Egypt have any hope of establishing a democracy free from Islamist and military oppression?

Yesterday, I wrote that the Muslim Brotherhood will always be an impediment to democratic politics in Egypt. (Booting Morsi a Step Towards True Democracy 7/8/13 Today, the Wall Street Journal’s Gerald F. Seib expounds the difficulty of fostering real democracy in Egypt.  While the removal of Morsi on its face seems like a step in the right direction, the greater issue is whether secular Egyptians have any hope of establishing a democracy free from Islamist and military oppression. (Following block quote excerpted from “In Egypt, U.S. Is Left With a Familiar False Choice” by GERALD F. SEIB Wall Street Journal 7/9/13)

The army’s ouster of President Mohammed Morsi has left the U.S. with the same false choice it has grappled with for decades in Egypt: between the army on the one hand, and the Islamists in Mr. Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood party on the other.

That’s a terrible predicament, one in which the U.S. inevitably is asked to pick the lesser of evils, then blamed by one or both sides for how it does so.

Missing from this equation are the secular, technocratic young Egyptians who ought to be the best allies of the U.S. and democracy.

Yet they lost out in the first transition when the Muslim Brotherhood won the post-Mubarak election, and then hijacked the government. Now they are in danger of losing out again, this time to the army in the post-Morsi Egypt.

The goal of Obama administration policy ought to be to transcend the military-Brotherhood choice and to empower these younger Egyptians, who are large in numbers but short on influence.

That sounds easy, but, in fact, is incredibly hard.

For those who have watched Egypt over the years, there is a depressing familiarity to this formula.

American diplomats in Cairo pushed periodically to bring the Brotherhood out of the shadows, lest it become a more dangerous force by nursing its grievances underground, but to little avail.

At other times, the U.S. sought to empower younger and presumably more liberal-minded Egyptian technocrats.

Now, the need to politically empower a newer generation of forward-thinking Egyptians is greater than ever but as hard as ever.

The sad reality is that, for now, Egypt lacks leaders and institutions that can pull new players up from the streets, or a system for peacefully sorting through competing arguments.

Thus, what policies should the Obama administration pursue to encourage the establishment of an Egyptian democracy that serves as a stabilizing force in a Mid-East littered with Islamist regimes?  There are no easy answers. By “Grizzly Joe”

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