June 2, 2012
The second, decisive round of Egypt’s presidential election will be held 16 and 17 June. If former general and Mubarak regime stalwart Ahmad Shafiq somehow wins, it’s almost certain the vote was manipulated.

A huge popular explosion in Egypt will very likely ensue. Egyptians are already furious their first democratic election of a president was distorted by the state election commission, a tool of the military junta now ruling Egypt. The commission vetoed many popular and capable candidates from the election for spurious reasons, so corrupting the election in advance. The vote was set up to split the votes of Islamists between numerous candidates.

In the end, two candidates, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi and former Maj. General Ahmad Shafiq, were left facing one another in the runoff vote.

I observed Egypt’s parliamentary vote that began at the end of 2011 and ended in early 2012. This vote was fair, open and laudably democratic. Its outcome was only a surprise to the western media which routinely misunderstands or misreports the Mideast. The Islamists – the Brotherhood and orthodox Salafist al-Nur Party – won a landslide with 66% of the popular vote.

In other words, two of three Egyptians voted for parties advocating government under Islamic principles. Horrified, Egypt’s military, backed and financed by western powers and some conservative Arab allies, set about trying to split the Islamists, reinvigorating the Mubarak regime, and making sure the presidential election would be an uphill struggle for the Islamists.

The first round of the presidential election was clearly tainted by vote rigging, a specialty of the old Mubarak regime. The military’s candidate, Shafiq, won easily in districts that had given landslide victories to the Islamists.

The Islamists were to blame for some of this. They failed to unite, splitting the vote. They failed to convince deeply worried Coptic Christians, who comprise 10% of Egypt’s population, that Islamists would not be a threat to Christianity or enforce draconian Salafist practices. They did not sufficiently emphasize their commitment to democracy or youth issues.

Another key factor that I witnessed across Egypt was the military junta’s ploy of withdrawing police from the streets and actually encouraging a crime wave to develop in a nation that was one of the world’s most crime-free societies in spite of its grinding poverty. Many Egyptians were frightened by the rising crime wave into supporting Shafiq and his military backers who vowed to crush crime with an iron first.

Even so, it strains comprehension that Shafiq is now running neck-a-neck with Islamist Morsi. There is even talk that if Shafiq wins, he will name the hated former intelligence chief Omar Suleiman as prime minister. A Shafiq victory would mean a return to absolute Mubarakism, without Mubarak.

Egypt did not stage its revolution so that Mubarakist autocracy and the fierce police state that kept it in power could return. So that the circles of corrupt businessmen and cronies around Mubarak could resume their plundering of the economy. Or so that Egypt could remain under the thumb of the United States and, indirectly, Israel. But that’s what could happen.

In fact, a big question is how Egypt’s Islamist-nationalists could get by without some $2 billion in US annual military and economic aid.

Morsi should vow to appoint popular Nasserist Hamdin Sabahi as his prime minister and name Copts to senior positions. He will have to quickly seek economic aid from the EU – at a time when it is awash with troubles.

Washington is deeply alarmed the Brotherhood may abrogate the hated, one-sided 1979 Camp David treaty with Israel. Most Egyptians rightly see the treaty as void because Israel violated one of its most important provisions: that Israel would withdraw from the West Bank and permit creation of a Palestinian state. But in a US election year in which pro-Israel forces dominate the Republican Party, Egypt’s nationalists and Islamist are well advised caution.

It’s no coincidence young Egyptians dismiss the Brotherhood, “your grandfather’s party.” Its conservative members, many engineers and academics, have little experience in the dirty game of politics and often appears stuffy and slow.

But if Shafiq and the military win the next vote, Egyptians could turn dangerously radical as the revolution that began in Tahrir Square goes violent.


copyright Eric S. Margolis 2012

This post is in: Africa, Egypt, Mideast


  1. From the BBC:

    Egypt’s supreme court has caused widespread alarm by calling for the dissolution of the lower house of parliament and for fresh elections.

    Two days before Egyptians choose a new president, it has declared last year’s parliamentary vote unconstitutional.

    Muslim Brotherhood presidential candidate Mohamed Mursi said the decision “must be respected”.

    But other political figures have expressed anger amid fears that the military wants to increase its power.
    Continue reading the main story
    “Start Quote

    Egypt just witnessed the smoothest military coup”

    In quotes: Egyptian reaction

    Another senior Muslim Brotherhood politician, Essam Al-Arian, said the ruling on parliament would send Egypt into a “dark tunnel”.

  2. Eric left no room for argument, but one statement may turn out slightly different, than what Eric seems to expect : “A Shafiq victory would mean a return to absolute Mubarakism, without Mubarak”. That ‘without Mubarak’ is not a sure thing yet, because life in prison is just a pacifying joke for the gullible. I am against the death penalty, because it is too merciful and sometimes an innocent person gets murdered that way, but the latter is not the case here. But as long as Mubarak is alive, he will remain a threat. Remember Napoleon? Also some of the big boys in the army should be tried for crimes against their own people, because Mubarak did not single-handedly murder all those people. He had the army brass as willing partners, because they loved to be showered with all that American bribe money.
    Egypt beware, that you do not end up with a hydra.

  3. Zeeshan7 says:

    The fact Shafiq made it to the final round, even ‘winning’ in districts that support the opposition, prove the elections are rigged. With the army restructured, the old regime is returning. Mubarak will likely be allowed to live out his days out of prison and in comfortable retirement (his notorious sons have already been found not guilty).

    Transition to ‘democracy’ in Egypt was purposefully delayed but not by the old guard because they had been dismantled. So the million dollar question; who benefits from the old regime returning to power?

  4. I fully agree with Menosh’s assessment. The fact is the US interference in this region to gain a foot hold on global hegemonic domination is the issue here. Israel is clear violation of various UN resolutions, yet, with the backing of the US, these violations are never addressed. The carnage in Syria is broadcasted daily in an attempt to sway public support for another “humanitarian war”, yet the carnage in Gaza a few years back in not even mentioned.
    With global domination come imperial over reach, and this is the point where we are at in global affairs. I believe that Syria is the line in the sand for Iran, Russia and China. Now that Mr. Putin is back in the Kremlin the “re-set” button will be deactivated. Best of luck to NATO and Israel.

  5. Mr.Margolis is right on with his views here.Mubarak was just sentenced to “life” imprisonment…no execution,opening the door to an appeal that will probably set him free.



    There was never any attempt made to bring about real change in Egypt.American bribe money has ensured this.Israel is no doubt pulling strings as well because the infamous Camp David Accord would be in jeopardy if Islamists came into power and Israel has not lived up to it’s expectations to leave all occupied lands,which was a key component of the accord.So what else is new? The more things change,the more they stay the same.

    I’m afraid there’s going to be more bloodshed…another Syria where foreign influences have already infiltrated and ensured that there would never be real change there as well.The writing was on the wall for a long time now.The only way to see this is not to believe the lying mainstream media and do any research yourself.Mid East politics will never change as long as the US is the world super power and the powerful Israel lobby calling all the shots over there.Again one only has to take the time and do proper research.

    • Mike Smith says:

      I doubt Mubarak will be free… he is 84 and in failing health both mentally and physically.

      My guess is he will either dies soon enough from natural causes, or assisted natural causes enabling the state to avoid making any decisions in this case.

      I would also suggest that if Morsi does win, the sky will not fall. Despite leading the ” Muslim Brotherhood ” I don’t feel he is anti Western ( he received his PhD in the US ) or a hothead. I am sure he will quietly demand concessions, and that in the long run he would be difficult… but I don’t feel he will turn over the applecart in the US / Egypt / Israel political game.
      I think many of the business men sitting on pins and needles during this election might find forgiveness with this man as well. He seems to know both sides will need each other in order to keep Egypt from falling apart both economically as well as socially.
      Sort of a Nelson Mandela for a similar situation.
      If Shafiq wins, I doubt civil war can be avoided sadly.

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