Blame the “OmniOpposition”
On one level, the domestic and foreign supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt are, ironically, an incredibly impressive propaganda machine for the Egyptian opposition: at least, in terms of their assessment of the power of the opposition.
Bassem Youssef, the Egyptian political satirist, declared that after his decree in November, President Morsy should no longer be described as ‘President Morsy’, but rather, had become ‘Super-Morsy’. It seems that according to the supporters of the Brotherhood in Egypt, the opposition should no longer be described as such – it must now be given its true name: ‘the Omniopposition’.
This OmniOpposition is labelled as such because, it seems, it is everywhere – and does everything. The economy is failing? It has little or nothing to do with the fact that the government’s economic plan is in desperate need of, well, economic experts. It has little or nothing to do with the fact that the government did not see fit to invest its political capital into trying to push the economy into a more healthy place, and chose to, instead, expend it (and waste it) on political-power issues like the constitution. No: it is the fault of the ‘OmniOpposition’.
It is they who are responsible for the fact that the economy is hurting, and will likely hurt even more in the months to come. It is they who are responsible for the devaluation of the currency – not the government who is, ahem, governing.
The OmniOpposition, likewise, is responsible for the immensely polarising discourse. Their insipid media is to blame. It’s not, for example, the fault of preachers and other supporters of the Brotherhood that has described this as pretty much a modern day religious war, where one side in life and death is on God’s side, and where on the other side is; well, on the other side. No, the power of the ‘opposition media’ is to blame – even though that same ‘opposition media’ has had guests, many times, from government forces and supporters of the government.
The state media, where journalists and reporters now fear to even interview members of the opposition for fear of getting into trouble with their superiors, cannot possibly be that powerful – even while the overwhelming majority of Egyptian citizens get their news first and foremost from the state media. No, it is the incredibly powerful ‘opposition media’ – and thus when there are laws being touted to restrict its freedom, they must be excused in order to curb the power of the OmniOpposition.
It is the OmniOpposition that must be faulted, of course, for not fully ‘recognising’ the legitimacy of the current government, although all leaders of the opposition have made it clear that they recognise President Morsy as, in fact, the elected president of Egypt.
By not fully ‘recognising’ (not quite sure what they would have to do to recognise this fact more), they are crippling the institutions of the state, and causing them not to function. How that is possible is something of a mystery – but the OmniOpposition must be held to account for the failings of the institutions of the state.
The OmniOpposition, it must be said, is responsible for the failure of any type of consensus building, as they have opted not to join to the ‘national dialogue’ that is underway. Never mind, of course, the fact the public prosecutor (an appointee of President Morsy) ordered an investigation into several opposition leaders for essentially treason. An investigation that came to an abrupt halt when the lawyer who had raised the complaint leading to that investigation withdrew his complaint.
Presumably, treasonous activities are so important that not only can be they investigated several weeks after the government’s supporters speak of them – but such investigations can be dropped out of a sense of being charitable. Quite.
It is due, one assumes, to the power of the OmniOpposition that complaints are raised by the prosecutor general to actual investigations, even where evidence is somewhat, umm, absent. When it comes to complaints, however, vis-a-vis the supporters of the government, such as the violence outside the presidential palace, the virtual siege by Hazem Abu Ismail supporters on Media City against ‘opposition media’ (although Hazem Abu Ismail was a guest on such media…) and so on, the investigations are somehow held up. A lot. If ever they take place…
The irony in all of this, which perhaps escapes the supporters of the government, is this: the OmniOpposition is barely an opposition, let alone this powerful. The opposition’s leadership was not responsible for the recent protests – they ran after them. They’ve missed opportunities time and time again, and while they might wish they had more power than they had, the reality is: they have very little. The Egyptian people deserve a better opposition – no question.
But in this country, the real loci of power exist in the Muslim Brotherhood, the army, the institutions of the state (which may be loyal to the government or not, but certainly aren’t loyal to the opposition leadership), and the Egyptian people. Those who have sought the power to govern, and have succeeded at the ballot box, have the responsibility of governance – and cannot explain or reduce the magnitude of their failings by looking elsewhere. Or at least, they won’t be fooling the Egyptian people if they try.
Dr. H. A. Hellyer, a non-resident fellow at the Brookings Institution, is a Cairo-based specialist on Arab affairs, and relations between the Muslim world and the west. Fellow at ISPU, he was previously senior practice consultant at Gallup, and senior research fellow at Warwick University. Find him online @hahellyer and www.hahellyer.com.
This article was originally published by Daily News Egypt.