The Arab Spring, a creation of the media in describing the widespread civil disobedience in the Arab World was birthed in Tunisia following the self immolation of Tarek al-Tayeb Mohammed Bouazizi, a street vendor in protest at the confiscation of his wares and the harassment and humiliation that he claimed was inflicted on him by municipal authorities.
It has claimed the life of Libya’s Muammar Ghaddafi, led to the toppling of Tunisia’s Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Yemen’s President and Western ally Ali Abdullah Saleh (who suffered facial burns in the ensuing melee), as well as Egyptian strong man Hosni Mubarak, and has resulted in major protests breaking out in Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco and Sudan, while minor protests have occured in Mauritania, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti and Western Sahara.
In Bahrain, it is lingering in ‘stop and start-again’ fashion, almost disrupting the Formula-1 Grand Prix there, while it has spiralled into a CIVIL WAR in Syria.
One of the Beneficiaries of the Arab Spring is now former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, and his Freedom and Justice Party (the political wing of the formerly outlawed Muslim Brotherhood),after winning elections conducted under the guidance of the military then headed by Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, who was also acting Head Of State at the time, after Hosni Mubarak resigned due to mounting local and international pressure following the popular uprising with the backing of Egypt’s Military.
He won hotly contested elections by a slim margin and was sworn in as Egypt’s 5th President on the 30th of June, 2012.
In the early days President Morsi attempted to form an all-inclusive, wide spectrum government (which was widely hailed at the time) but as time went on he began to build his government around mainly party men.
His downfall can be said to have started at that point, as most of those who fought for Egypt’s liberation felt left out and at some point felt persecuted.
The economy fared worse, and was prevented from total collapse with help from neighbours such as Saudi Arabia and other Oil-Rich Gulf States, though this cannot be said to be the major reason that led to his fall, as many Egyptians understood quite well that it will take a longer time for the Economy to pick up. They were however dissatisfied with the Prime Ministers buckling to Nationalize some state assets and protested loudly about it, a reason the prime minister could be going to jail soon.
The crux of the matter though was political bothering on the constitutional. The inability of the constituent assembly tasked with drafting Egypt’s new constitution led to Morsi unilaterally issuing his own constitutional amendments which were to run till the passage of a new constitution, as even the legitimacy of the Constituent Assembly began to come into question.
His new constitution pandered to the aspirations of his ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ and was seen by the opposition as stiffling freedoms (such as that of expression for which several journalists and bloggers have had cause to spend time in jails for things as flimsy as ‘insulting’ President Morsi), and the rights of minorities and women. He even went to the extent of firing the Public Prosecutor for standing in the way of the constitutional amendment.
There was also increasing attacks against minorities notably the ‘Coptic Christians’ as zealots now wandered in the open creating a level of intolerance and wave of attacks, probably never before seen or known in Egypt against Christians, hence it was no surprise that among the personalities around the Head of the Military, General Abdul Fatah Al-Sisi while he made the speech that ousted President Morsi was Pope Tawadros II (Head of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt), amongst members of the civilian opposition as well as senior muslim leaders.
His failure to rein in the activities of the notorious Interior Ministry as well as curb the excesses of the police, did not help his case too.
Unfortunately, by the time He realized the need to engage the opposition in dialogue, it was too late. They could foresee his downfall and felt that if they could hold out for just a few more days (following several weeks of protests and the garnering of about 22Million signatures, by the Grassroots Organization, TAMAROD – which means ‘Rebelion’ in Arabic) they would leave the powerful military no choice but to intervene in the crisis. A date was thus set for the 30th of June, which coincided with the 1-year anniversary of Mohammed Morsi in office for the beginning of the ‘Mother of All Protests’.
Mohammed Morsi’s supporters also were not left out as they staged their own protest in support of his policies though in smaller numbers compared to the anti-Morsi group. They did not also generate signatures as much as their opponents did.
The 48-hour deadline given to Morsi to resolve the political imbroglio with the opposition was never going to bare any fruit in the first place as the die had already been cast, and so despite President Morsi’s defiant yet seemingly conciliatory speech the eve before he was toppled, the only change that seemed likely was a military intervention.
An Interim Government now holds sway in Egypt led by the Chief Justice of The Supreme Constitutional Court of Egypt, ADLY MANSOUR.
Like Morsi, many (despotic) rulers of African countries (with history of military interventions at several times) are wont to play on the people’s sensibilities, by warning them of a possible military incursion should they raise their voice against the tyranny of their democratically elected leaders.
The events that have played out in Egypt in recent days show that when people rise against government, regarding what they want, even the military can be used to actualize it.