By Hugo Odiogor,Foreign Affairs Editor
Perhaps only Bashorun MKO Abiola would have understood the agony of Mohammed Morsi, whose electoral mandate was truncated on June 30, barely one year in power. The fallout of the social upheaval in Egypt casts a flash back to the same crisis that followed the annulment of the result of the June 12, 1993 presidential election while Abiola was on his way to being declared the winner.
Morsi, just like Abiola, is being detained by Egyptian military authorities. Egypt is the most populous and influential country in the Arab world like Nigeria is in sub Sahara Africa. The question which the world now has to grapple with is whether Egypt will slip into civil war and the impact that will have on the world.
Nigeria came to the brink following the June 12 election annulment, but its people lacked the resolve of the Arabs to fight the coup that toppled Morsi.
A massive military crackdown to clear anti-Morsi protesters, on Wednesday, turned bloody, as the military applied force when they moved into the protest camps erected by supporters of the deposed Egyptian president, who were demanding his release and restoring him to power. About 2,000 deaths were reported by the opposition but official figures put the number of deaths at about 600 persons.
The military backed government of Justice Adly Mansur said it lost patience with the protesters who had been on the streets for six weeks, demanding that the military return Morsi to power. The declaration of state of emergency and imposition of curfew has been backed by massive movement of tanks, bulldozers and other equipment in a bid by government to crush the pro-Morsi protests.
Morsi, who took power in June 2012 on the platform of Justice Party, was said to be moving Egypt away from its secular status with the introduction of a constitution which the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood had heavily influenced the content. There were the minorities concerns as Morsi moved to accumulate extra judicial powers.
The first sign of trouble came when he retired many senior military officers whom he felt were too entrenched during Hosni Mubarak presidency for over 30 years. The military were uncomfortable with Morsi for attempting to humiliate the former president who had been shown to the whole world being taken to court in human cage.
Apart from sentencing Mubarak to life jail for ordering the killing of protesters during the 18 day Arab Spring that swept through Egypt between January and February 2012, the former president is still on trial on corruption charges. This development has been unsettling to the powerful Egyptian military which has been involved in
Egypt’s politics for over 60 years. Mubarak was a former air force pilot and war hero.
The Muslim Brotherhood was in a hurry to see Morsi into policies and legislations that would erode the liberal and secular status of Egypt. The attack on Coptic Christians and other minority groups signaled the limitation on the freedom of worship. On the other hand, the economy was declining at a fast rate. Majority of young people who thought that the exit of Mubarak would open the doors for employment were left in the cold.
On the external front, Morsi was unsure of his place within the Arab world and beyond.
While he was campaigning for office, he had alarmed the world with his anti- Israeli statements, but on assumption of power he began to retreat from his threats to review the Camp David Accord with Israel. He attacked Syria’s President Bashar Al Assad for killing his people. He disagreed with former Iranian President
Mahmud Ahmedinajad over his style of Islamic government, yet, at home, Morsi was growing increasingly confused. It was not surprising when a combination of social, political and economic factors pushed the mob into the streets once more.
The toppling of Morsi was the second regime change within 13months and the puppet regime
that General Al Sisi put in place was not much different from the Interim National Government that General Ibrahim Babangida handed over to Chief Ernest Shonekan in Nigeria. The composition of the Adly Manusur government, with opponents of the Morsi administration, remains a major political albatross on the country as neither the military nor the freak government could lay claims to legitimacy, credibility and integrity.
The positions of the opposition that Morsi should be brought back remains forlorn as that would mean sentencing the military and the opponents of Morsi to their untimely deaths. On the other hand, the supporters of Morsi are prepared to fight to the end.
Their position has been
strengthened by the arrival of militant groups from different parts of Arab world, to confront the military. Already the Brotherhood has singled the Coptic Christian communities for reprisal attacks. They have also intensified
attacks on security agencies and public buildings as part of the low level insurgency that has become the new face of the social conflict in Egypt.
The unfolding event in Egypt is not the best for peace and stability in the Middle East and Africa as
a whole as experience has shown that the fighters that are mobilised for these conflicts often turn out to be sources of instability in other countries and regions.
The Mujahedeen fighters who went to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan became the back bone of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and in the Maghreb; the same Mujahedeen fighters were also active in the insurgency in Algeria, Libya, Mali, Kenya, Nigeria among others.
The ideologies of hate that emanate from these engagements are often too difficult to contain even when the conflicts are resolved.