According to Amnesty, the army are currently shooting pro-Morsi protesters (supporters of the democratically elected government of Egypt, in other words); shutting down opposition media and arresting their staff; and subjecting Muslim Brotherhood members to arbitrary detention.
Who could’ve known this is what they would start to do? Anyone who is even vaguely familiar with their track record in power, perhaps.
Cracking heads and shooting protesters is not the kind of behaviour you’d expect an institution who claim to be trying to save democracy in Egypt to be engaged in.
The BBC, though, continue to publish articles supportive of the military coup.
In this one, by Said Shehata, we are told that the army have ‘orchestrated a smart move . . . by getting all factions of Egyptian society on board’ for the coup. All factions, that is, except for ‘the Muslim Brotherhood . . . which is reported to have refused the army’s invitation’. Might they have ‘refused’ the army’s ‘invitation’ (like they were being politely asked to come to a dinner party, or something, and rudely declined) because they were the elected government of the country, and saw no reason to participate in their own overthrow?
While Shehata does concede that what has happened is a ‘coup’, he basically argues that it is legitimate because ‘the army is only supervising the roadmap and the transition, but the main actors are the interim president and the new government’.
He is carefully steering around the fact that it was the military who appointed them, after overthrowing the elected government. The unelected civilian suits may ostensibly be in charge, but the Generals are very much standing behind them, rifles cocked.
He goes on to describe the army as the ‘strongest and most stable institution in Egypt’, which has been seen as ‘the guardian of stability and peace since 1952’, and says that ‘if it had not ousted Morsi after the 48-hour deadline it gave him to resolve the protests, it could have been damaged as an institution’.
Shehata concludes his article by saying that ‘A fragile democracy and weak state apparatus have been the main reason for the army to play this role. Once democracy is strengthened and strong state apparatus found, the army might play a less role in the future’, implying that the army is only trying to strengthen democracy, and that once democracy is strengthened, they’ll step back a bit. Which – and sorry to repeat myself here – seems naive at best, given the army’s track record, and the fact they’ve just overthrown the elected government of the country and are now engaged in a campaign of violent repression against them.
The military’s over wielding power in Egypt and their well established anti-democratic tendencies are surely a major part of the problem, rather than the solution.
And the question here could be: If the Egyptian military themselves had been asked to write an analysis for the BBC, would it have sounded very different?