Interim Minister of Foreign Affairs Nabil Fahmy recently said one of the most important objectives of his ministry is to portray to the world the “correct and proper image” of Egypt.
In this context the ministry has been working overtime to relay this message abroad, even before Fahmy’s appointment. These efforts have come in the form of telephone conversations, meetings with ambassadors and even a tour of Africa for some diplomats.
It is undeniable that the international community have many questions about what is going on in Egypt. A coup is not something to be taken lightly, especially when democratic principles are so important to some of Egypt’s most important partners.
The question I am intrigued to know the answer to is this: what is the “correct and proper image” of Egypt? What is this message being sent around the world?
The ministry will tell you that they are giving assurances that the interim government is committed to the road map put forward by the armed forces. It will also tell you that national reconciliation and an all inclusive transition process is of the utmost importance.
This sounds great on paper and said down the telephone, but I wonder… how many diplomats hearing this message respond with: “How will you get the Muslim Brotherhood to participate?”
The Brotherhood will not negotiate anything until “a full reinstatement of the constitutional legitimacy of the state” is achieved. This includes reinstating the Shura Council and Morsi as president, something that the armed forces and interim government just won’t do.
The Brotherhood and Morsi have a still have support around the country and a transition process that does not explore every possible way of including them will only worsen the already heated situation.
Egypt is divided not into just pro and anti Morsi, secular and conservative or liberal and religious. Egyptians have their own ideas and not every conservative Muslim is a Morsi supporter, just as not every secularist is necessarily an ElBaradei supporter.
The claim that one side represents the “will of the people” is now just meaningless rhetoric. Amongst the anti-Morsi camp there is not just one point of view. Some wanted Morsi out of office but not through military intervention and many are overjoyed that the armed forces intervened. Others were ambivalent towards Morsi but are pro-armed forces. Some of these supporters may have seen the military’s intervention as a devaluation of their vote if they chose Morsi. Others, regardless of how they used their vote stand firmly by Morsi’s electoral legitimacy.
These differences of opinion are not going to go away easily, especially when a very large sector is demanding something that just won’t happen. If the stalemate continues and the interim government ploughs ahead with the road map then it will only further isolate Morsi’s supporters and any elections held will be met with a boycott. In which case Egypt’s next elected parliament would not be a truly representative body.
The diplomats of the world receiving the ministry’s image of Egypt are not fools. The reality of Egypt is not a secret. Now they need to decide what the best way to help the situation would be. That being said, Egyptians are tired of foreigners telling them how to run their country.
Stability in Egypt is what many countries around the world were happy with for decades despite the presence of oppressive authoritarian rule. By omitting some of the controversial details, the ministry’s “correct and proper image” might just be what the world wants to hear.