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Military, Political Islam, and the Future of Democracy in Egypt

Egypt’s democratization efforts require domestic and international considerations: Domestically, the country must focus on the economy at the expense of the military’s political role: While military involvement in politics is crucial to democratization, improvements in this area represents an outcome, not the cause, of the process. Discussions should concentrate on protecting lower- and middle classes, generate prosperity and create common ground between democracy and class interests. At the international level, Egypt requires countries to support democratization efforts and condemn extra-democratic actions. Meanwhile, the prominence of Islamists causes concerns for Western governments with regard to the Peace Treaty and Israel’s security.

Military Political Islam and the Future of Democracy in Egypt
Supporters of ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi show Morsi’s portrait and posters with the four finger symbol during a demonstration against the military backed government. AFP
 

When Hosni Mubarak was ousted from power in February 2011 in what became one of the defining moments of the Arab Spring, a furious public discussion ensued about the character of the soon-to-be-drafted Egyptian constitution. For many, the new constitution had to guarantee the privileges of democracy to all societal groups involved. As part of these discussions, a popular idea, especially among secular opposition groups and those close to the military, was whether the “Turkish model” should define the parameters of the Egyptian path to democracy. The “Turkish model” was shorthand for the “guiding” role that the Turkish military assumed since 1923. In this role, the military would, in principle, stay out of politics while when the fundamental values and principles of the state were threatened, the military would undertake its constitutional sanction to intervene to set things “right.” The Turkish military utilized this power on numerous occasions since the 1950s. 

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