Assad will breathe a sigh of relief at death of Arab Spring

Robert Fisk – The Independent June 16, 2012

The end of the Egyptian Revolution? I suppose we could have seen it coming; the marginalisation of the original rebels of Tahrir Square, fobbed off with a few trials, while the military encrusted themselves round the power Mubarak had given them and sopped up his obedient ministers as a façade of civilian rule.

And the Brotherhood – as uninvolved in Tahrir as Ahmed Shafik – moved in to take over after years of clandestinity and government torture. Mubarak’s men and the Brotherhood were never represented in Tahrir. “All we want is for Mubarak to go,” the young of Egypt used to shout. And that was all. Easy for the “deep state” to resolve. Almost all the top “Stasi” officers were acquitted. The police murderers are still at work. These men are happy with this latest instalment in Egypt’s tragedy.

The 1991 Algerian parallel is all too relevant. A democratic poll which the Islamists won, suspension of second-round elections, emergency laws that give the army special powers, torture, the round-up of elected members, savage guerrilla war – give and take a slight variation, only the last two have not yet begun in Egypt. But Algeria was less preposterous: le pouvoir had staged a coup and all who opposed it were “terrorists”. This process has also begun in Cairo. The army has been given powers of arrest. These powers are meant to be used.

In Egypt, the holding of a presidential election when the parliamentary power base of one of the candidates, Mohamed Morsi (the Brotherhood) has been dissolved by the supporters of his opponent, Shafik, before the final presidential poll is ridiculous.

A few days ago, Alaa al-Aswany, that fine Egyptian novelist-activist-dentist, predicted a plan already formulated: to massacre the revolutionaries. But this plan would not work, he said, because the return of Shafik, protected by the military, would mean the end of the revolution. But that was then. Now Shafik may well take power – if Morsi loses – without a parliament to control him.

Desperate days, then. But one thing to remember. The Mubarak-appointed Egyptian judges didn’t just get up on Thursday morning and decide to dissolve parliament. This was decided a long time ago. So was the retention of military power.

There will be plans ready for this weekend. They may even know the election result. I dare not think what this means for Egypt. The Arab Spring may be dead (the Arab awakening less so). But the security establishment in Washington will be pleased. So, I suspect, will President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. Now there’s a thought.

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Robert Fisk

Middle East correspondent for London’s Independent, often outspoken and out of step with the rest of the mainstream media

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