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Adil: U.S. should help restore democracy to Egypt

Published August 17, 2013 1:01 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Military coup after coup has kept Egypt under military control since 1952, when a military colonel, Gamal Nasir, overthrew King Farouk and ruled until his death in 1970. Then another military man, Anwar Al Sadat, ruled until his assassination in 1981, leading to the rule of Hosni Mubarik until 2011.

Finally the people of Egypt rose up just like the people of Pakistan to demand a people's government and succeeded in ushering a civilian government in 2012.

But unlike Pakistan, which tolerated the incompetent civilian government for five years just to continue the democratic process, the Egyptian military elite could not tolerate a presidency of an ordinary civilian, even though he was elected by the people, and conspired to remove him in one year. A democracy goes through infancy, childhood, adulthood and maturity and takes parental patience and time to bring it about.

In many developing nations, the primary reason for the establishment of militaries was to safeguard the borders against a supposed enemy, such as Israel in case of Egypt and India in the case of Pakistan. But soon the militaries in these countries created an upper and elite class to rule the masses. To maintain their grip on power they manage a network of businesses and land ownerships to weave a ruling class into the mainstream population of employees which include civilian and non-civilian subservient classes.

In Egypt the military controls more than 40 percent of the economic interest and ownership. Just as in Pakistan the military in uniform and retired is privileged to own businesses, lands, all kind of real property, licenses and permits. Its economic domination enables it to hire and control both civilian and military conscripts below average wages.

The military elite and their families enjoy the privileges of wealth, health care and education. Hosni Mubarik still enjoys them and controls from behind the scenes despite all kinds of charges of corruption and oppression by the civilian government which disappeared quickly.

In a military sense the militaries in Pakistan and Egypt have nothing to show as an accomplishment since Gamal Nasser's humiliating defeat by Israel in 1967, and breakup of Pakistan in 1971, creating Bangladesh. The ghosts of Israel and India, which the armies of Egypt and Pakistan created to scare their mass populations so they could continue their own oppressive rule, are now an illusion and the masses demand the basic needs of clean water, electricity, education and a democratic process to ensure a better future for their children.

No wonder humanity all over the Middle East is awakening and, if the militaries leave them alone, will usher into a more aware, educated and peaceful world. We need to recognize the aspirations of humanity in masses and rule of law to distance ourselves from the military and elite class of the developing nations. It is a worthy goal to correct our attitude toward humanity even if we differ with those masses on points of faith and culture.

We should contribute toward the basic needs of humanity in those countries, including education, and stop exporting any and all weapons of violence to military regimes in the world. It's time for the U.S. to demand the release of civilian President Mohammed Morsi, whether we like him or not; otherwise America will be remembered in Egypt just as Iranians do since the 1953 overthrow of Prime Minister Mohammed Musadaq, and will face the same consequences.

We need to trust and support humanity instead of living in Islamophobia and misguiding our own citizens in matters of foreign policy.

Rashad Adil is an attorney in private practice in Salt Lake City. He came to Utah from the Middle East in the 1970s as a VISTA volunteer.