Three Questions: Egypt’s ‘Zero-sum’ Politics


The way in which the military behaves, now that it has suspended the constitution, will have major consequences upon how Egypt may emerge from the "48 hours" that shook the country following the June 30 protests.
 
The military has proposed a roadmap, agreed to by various opposition parties "to correct the direction of the revolution", and put the country back on the track of democracy. The roadmap envisioned swearing in the chief justice as a new interim president, forming a transitional government of technocrats with wide-ranging authorities and preparing the way for new constitutional amendments and elections.
 
However, like any other, the Egyptian military has a well-defined role: to protect the sovereignty, security and stability of the country. Not to promote democracy. By definition and by its own organisational structure, a military is anything but democratic; in fact, it's necessarily authoritarian and hierarchical in its operation. Furthermore, in Egypt, the military also has economic interests, special privileges for its top brass, and a very powerful role to protect in any future political configuration of the country.

All this may explain why the military rushed to suspend the constitution, and arrest the president and other leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood on the charge of insulting the constitution. Warrants were issued against many of the Brotherhood's leaders and those of its political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party – all under the guise of safeguarding public order. The military also closed various media outlets, and warned it would not tolerate any incitement against the new order.
 
Like a hammer that sees a nail in everything, the generals see political challenges as security problems. This means the current repression, if it continues, will lead to the further alienation of the Brotherhood and push its supporters underground – escalating to a potentially dangerous situation. It remains to be seen whether all of this is happening by design or by default, and whether the military would like to see the Muslim Brotherhood banned before the next elections. Any such step would not put the country back on the path of stability, but rather endanger the very foundation of Egyptian polity and security.
 
Meanwhile, the military has further empowered the forces of the "deep state" – those groups of politicians, generals and business owners that were allied to the regime of Hosni Mubarak, and who have continued to command influence among the poor and ignorant. These well-financed groups played an important part in inciting against President Morsi over the past year, and recently joined the anti-Morsi demonstrations in large numbers. These forces are coming back with vengeance, after the revolution and Islamist-led administration tried to strip them of their power, interests and influence. They will further complicate the transition and sow confusion in the country.

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:Arial;color:black”>Marwan Bishara is the senior political analyst of Al Jazeera English and the author of