Revolutionaries for Shafiq (Seven Reasons)

Egyptian revolutionaries have taken to Twitter to lament the run-off between Mursi and Shafiq in 140 characters or less.  It is a misguided sentiment. It certainly would have been grand if someone like El-Baradei had become President, or even a campus darling such as Sabahi. Either were unrealistic expectations, given the personalities and the country. Yet the outcome is not all bad, if (and it is a big if) the brave men and women who made the revolution can seize this opportunity.

In a runoff between Mursi and Shafiq sitting out the election is tantamount to voting to the more organized of the two candidates. Boycotting is in fact a passive vote. The question is who to vote for. Shafiq, on the face of it, is the revolutionaries’ worse choice. After all, he is Mubarak’s “third son”. Moving from revolution to effective governance requires the revolutionaries to eschew the self-indulgence of idealism for the burden of responsibility. Some pills are bitter, but they are better than the alternatives. There are 7 reason why Shafiq is a better choice than Mursi

1- Shafiq will be the last president of the first republic, while Mursi will be the first president of the tedious Islamic state.  If Shafiq is forced to adopt measures to make the presidency accessible to civilians in 4 years then much will have been accomplished.

2- Shafiq will be hemmed in by both the Islamists and the Army. He is unlikely to go far off the rails. Mursi will be the MB puppet and will be itching to control the Army, resulting in a one-party state, and a party that believes it has a divine mandate at that. Failing that, a coup is possible and highly undesirable. Egypt does not need that now.

3- Egyptians’ needs must be addressed in proper sequence. The most critical need is to reform the security services and shore up the foreign reserves. A deal to support Shafiq in exchange for an ironclad agreement to reform the police is far more likely to work (and more likely to be supported by the Army), than an adventure with Mursi & El-Shater to rebuild the police. Tourism is the most immediate means of shoring up the reserves, and is likely to suffer under the heavy hand of the MB, which will always seek to play to the cultural issues due to its inherent minority status.

4- The ugly attack on the Copts as having elected Shafiq  has no factual basis (most of Shafiq’s support is from the Delta which has low Coptic population), but is  indicative of the MB mindset. This bodes badly for social peace. It is likely that Mursi will bumble into a sectarian conflict that might draw in outsiders. This is not a happy scenario.

5- There are implications to a Mursi foreign policy. Egypt will ally with Qatar  and will be opposed by the UAE (read their police chief blast about MB subversion). Consider that the sovereign fund of Qatar is around $50B, Saudi Arabia  and UAE around $600B, and that the UAE has a higher educational and social standard. Which of these countries will make a better partner for the development of Egypt ?

6- The NDP is a spent force, while the MB still commands the blind and unquestioning loyalty of its members. Of these two parties which are less likely to resist the rise of new political forces.

7- Mursi has never unequivocally announced that he will pledge allegiance to Egypt over the MB Murshid.

Whatever the Egyptian revolution has accomplished , all Egyptians (including sympathizers) have much to be proud of. But the revolution is passing through its dangerous stage where the better can become the enemy of the good and the idealism and emotional forces it unleashed have to be harnessed to the service of  slow and steady gains for the common man, possible only with co-operation and co-opting of non-revolutionary or even counter-revolutionary forces. Having rescued Egypt from the dull hand of police authoritarianism, the revolutionaries can ill-afford handing Egypt to the intolerant and dissembling authoritarianism of the MB. These forces, armed with the certainty that God is their agent, will tolerate  no dissent, brook no political opposition and crack down with ruthlessness born of the certainty of faith and self-righteousness.

But perhaps most importantly, the majority of Egyptians chose non-Islamists in the first round and it is incumbent on the revolutionaries to do all they can to make sure that the rules of the game do not contradict this clear choice.

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