Egypt’s Pan-Arabic revolution of 1952 gave the country a historical legitimacy which remained a distinctive feature for years, not only for Egypt but for many Arab countries.
However, Anwar Sadat’s decision to sign the Camp David Accords peace treaty with Israel and the policies adopted by his successor, Hosni Mubarak, actually killed the spirit of Pan-Arabism in Egypt.
After all the years of dormancy, a new historical legitimacy has begun emerging in Egypt since the revolution of February 11, 2011, and this time the Egyptians are striving to establish a new Islamic system. But the revolution has yet to realize its objectives, and the Islamist government of President Mohammed Morsi seems to lack the authority and determination to stop the foreign interference and to bring the situation under control. And by challenging the Islamists’ rule, the opposition groups are preventing Egypt from institutionalizing the Islamic legitimacy of the country.
Promoting Pan-Arab values against Islamic teachings has been the main agenda of the opposition groups, such as the liberals, the secularists, and the loyalists of the former regime. The main aim of this move is to weaken the position of the Muslim Brotherhood, and to this end, the opposition has repeatedly accused Morsi of establishing a new dictatorship.
The Western powers and their regional allies have used the dispute between the Pan-Arabists and the Islamists to exacerbate the crisis in Egypt. Some remnants of the former regime, who still have sensitive posts in the interior and intelligence ministries and also in the military, have played a major role in provoking the people to take to the streets. However, Morsi is Egypt’s legitimate president and the opposition will not be able to topple him with sporadic demonstrations and clashes.
The general sense of insecurity in Egypt will certainly lead to popular discontent, and there is even the risk that the people will eventually ask the military to restore order.
Thus, Morsi must moderate his stances on internal and international issues. Otherwise, the crisis will become more serious and the Pan-Arabists and the pro-Western groups will have a smoother path to power.
Mohammad Sadeq al-Hosseini is a political analyst and expert on the Arab world based in Tehran.
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