Last week, I wrote that the Egyptian army was trying to emulate the “old Turkish model” in its attempts to transition Egypt to a democracy. The crux of this model is to set up a form of military tutelage so that the commanders can maintain, if perhaps indirectly, some influence over the elected civilian authority.
When Egypt started taking the first steps toward democracy after the fall of the Mubarak regime, this was the plan that the SCAF (Supreme Council of the Armed Forces), under Marshall Tantawi, engineered. Presidential elections were held in a free atmosphere and Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, was elected with 51 percent of the vote. In the meantime, the military council assumed some of the president’s powers, annulled parliament and consolidated its control over the new government.
There are indications that Marshall Tantawi was inspired by the Turkish model of the 1980s. He even had the 1982 Turkish constitution translated into Arabic to study it in detail.
Turkey’s EU minister Egemen Bagis wrote in an article for the Huffington Post that the Egyptian generals were making a mistake by adopting the “old Turkish model.” According to him, Turkey lived through a tragedy in the 1980’s and the “military tutelage” model is dead and buried under the rule of the current AKP [Justice and Development party] government. The message he was trying to convey was that if they were going to reference a Turkish model, it should be the “full democracy” model that has been given life by the AKP.
Although the Egyptian military finds the 1980 version of the Turkish model attractive, Morsi has an affinity for the version that Bagis referred to in his article.
The salient feature of this [full-democracy] model is the full withdrawal of the military from governance and politics during the transition process.
Morsi clearly stated that a similar transition to civilian rule is also desired for Egypt. In a speech earlier this week, he highly praised the military but then expressed hope that the country would move to full civilian rule and that the military will then focus on its vital duties of national defense and security.
Morsi has two options for establishing his authority: either through confrontations or through reconciliation. We understand that he has opted for the latter.
That is not going to be easy in Egypt’s current situation. The new leader has to be extremely careful in what he says and does. He should avoid hasty moves or forcing issues, and he must gain the confidence of the opposing sides.
He could benefit from Turkey’s experiences in this process. Who knows, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu might have touched upon this when he met Morsi a few days ago. It is significant to hear that Davutoglu told Morsi that Turkey is ready to closely cooperate with Egypt in every field.
Morsi is known as a moderate and pragmatic politician who is open to outside world. Although he was in the ranks of the Muslim Brotherhood, he is resigned to embrace the “entirety of the Egyptian people.” In his latest statements, he spoke of giving weight to the economy and respecting foreign policy commitments.
Analysts who are closely observing Egypt believe that Morsi will not seek confrontations with the army or the liberal segment of the population, and that he will leave the resolution of the [old] regime issues to time. This also means he is planning a “soft transition” to implement his own agenda.
We shall see what kind of Egypt will emerge from all of this.