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Obsessed with Turkish Models in Egypt

[ ["Together, one hand united for the future. Recep Tayyip Erdogan," Cairo, Egypt. 14 September 2011. Photo by Hesham Sallam]

Shortly after the outbreak of Turkey’s Gezi Park protests, Egyptian public forums were flooded with a variety of expressions that drew parallels between the respective situations in each of the two countries. The trend reinforced the international media’s initial characterization of protests in Turkey as the manifestation of a region-wide backlash against ruling Islamist parties. Scholars and researchers immediately responded with meticulous explanations for why Turkey is not Egypt, highlighting the stark differences between the two contexts, and offering nuanced arguments for why popular mobilization in Turkey is neither an extension of the so-called “Arab Spring” nor a prelude to a second round of uprisings in the region.

Missing from this debate, however, is the context in which various political actors in Egypt have long competed to appropriate and mold Turkey’s democratic experience (or what has been dubbed the “Turkish model”) in a broader struggle to define the acceptable parameters of the emergent political system in Egypt. It does not take much to reach the conclusion that Turkey and Egypt represent vastly distinct political arenas, and that public debates in Egypt about the “Turkish model” have done great injustice to the nuances of Turkey’s dynamic experience with democratic institutions over the past three decades. Yet, however simplified, portrayals of the so-called Turkish model in Egyptian public discourse—before and after the outset of the Gezi Park protests—reveal a great deal about the character of longstanding struggles for revolutionary change in Egypt.

In many ways, what the “Turkish model” constitutes exactly has been an important arena of political contestation in Egypt over the past two years—one that elucidates ongoing conflicts between various revolutionary and counter-revolutionary forces in the country. More specifically, over the course of the past two years, different wielders of power in Egypt have selectively used Turkey’s experience with democratic institutions to justify and advance a variety of counter-revolutionary initiatives. It is for this reason that many activists, political leaders, and commentators were quick to draw (or in some cases dismiss) parallels between Turkey’s protests and the confrontations between the ruling Muslim Brotherhood and its challengers. More broadly, a reading of the political battles and compromises that the “Turkish model” has embodied over the past two years in Egypt underscores some of the enduring challenges that partisans of the January 25 Revolution face today in light of the 30 June protests and calls for President Mohamed Morsi’s resignation. 

What Can the Army Do for You

The earliest mention of the “Turkish model” in post-Hosni Mubarak Egyptian public debates occurred in the summer of 2011, as military leaders began leaking reports about their interest in carving out a new political system in which the army would enjoy unconventional privileges that would be shielded from the democratic process. For instance, in mid-July 2011, Egyptian news outlets were reporting about statements made by a military official that the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) will seek to implement the “Turkish model” in Egypt: “We want a model like Turkey, but we will not force it…Egypt as a country needs this to protect our democracy from the Islamists. We know this group does not think democratically.” Yahya al-Gamal, who at the time served as deputy prime minister in the SCAF-sponsored government of Essam Sharaf, had said weeks earlier that Egypt would try to benefit from the “Turkish constitutional experience,” describing it as “rich and wonderful.” Al-Gamal said: “The Turkish constitutional experience was fruitful for its people and its country, and has contributed significantly to its advancement, and we should work on following its path toward the country's stability and our own development in various fields.” The subtle reference of course was to Turkey’s 1982 constitution, which afforded the military a great deal of influence and provided immunity for its leaders. It was even reported a few days later that the Ministry of Culture ordered the translation of Turkey’s 1982 constitution, and held a seminar about the document featuring the participation of Tahani el-Gebali, a Supreme Constitutional Court judge known for her pro-military views, and Ambassador Mohamed Refaa al-Tahtawi, who would later become President Morsi’s chief of staff.

Coinciding with reports of Egyptian authorities’ interest in replicating the so-called Turkish experience was a debate within the country’s political community on whether or not to support a SCAF-initiated proposal for devising a set of “supra-constitutional principles.” Supra-constitutional principles were understood to denote provisions that prospective constitutional writers would have to incorporate into any draft constitution. Complementing demands for such principles were calls for defining criteria governing the selection of constitution writers in order to ensure that the future Constituent Assembly would be sufficiently representative of Egypt’s diverse political trends. Because Islamist groups, especially the Brotherhood, were poised to make considerable gains in the legislative elections that fall, which would have translated into significant influence over constitution writing, liberal figures began voicing support for proposals for supra-constitutional principles in the summer of 2011. The idea was for these principles to safeguard political rights and liberties and to preserve the non-religious nature of the state, regardless of which group ends up controlling the Constituent Assembly after the elections.

It was not long after these proposals were floated that it became clear that civil liberties and the non-religious character of the state were not the only things that supra-constitutional principles were meant to safeguard. By mid-August, officials were leaking statements that the supra-constitutional principles that the SCAF-sponsored government was preparing contained provisions that granted the military sweeping privileges and legal bases to intervene in politics as it deems necessary, citing (once again) the military’s interest in enforcing the “Turkish model.” By November 2011, this was no longer a rumor, as politicians were openly discussing a set of supra-constitutional principles that promulgated these proposals. The principles were known collectively as the “al-Selmi” document, named after then-Deputy Prime Minister Ali al-Selmi, who took the lead in building support for said provisions. Most controversially, the document contained a provision that tasked the military with “protecting constitutional legitimacy,” and delegated all military affairs—including discussion of its budget— away from an elected parliament and to a military-dominated National Defense Council. This meant, among other things, that the large economic empire that the military long controlled was to remain off limits for elected institutions and the public. In other words, it became apparent that the “Turkish model” to which Egyptian officials were referring throughout the preceding months was one in which the military, shielded from any meaningful accountability and transparency, both stood above as well as limited the power of elected institutions. 

What was perhaps interesting is how this vision was not limited to military circles and SCAF-sponsored government officials. Many self-professed liberals rallied behind SCAF’s initiative and called openly for institutionalizing a political role for the military in the post-Mubarak constitutional order. For example, in July 2011, presidential hopeful Hisham Bastawisi submitted to SCAF proposals for supra-constitutional principles, including provisions calling for the formation of a military-controlled body that would be tasked with overseeing military affairs instead of elected institutions, much like what was later proposed in the al-Selmi document. Similarly, Hamdeen Sabbahi pledged in June 2011 that, if elected, he would ensure that the military’s powers are expanded in a new constitution.

Among those who supported a stronger role for the military in post-Mubarak Egypt were a host of secular figures who promoted the idea that a politically empowered military was the best check against the growing influence of Islamist political currents. Osama al-Ghazali Harb, leader of the liberal Democratic Front Party told the Washington Post few months before the al-Selmi document came to surface that Islamists posed a greater threat to democracy in Egypt than the military, arguing for a constitution that would task the military with a “role for guaranteeing democratic stability in the country.” 

Such demands did not disappear with the election of President Mohamed Morsi and the formal end of military rule on 30 June 2012. In fact, they intensified, and references to the “Turkish model” were once again front and center. Just as pro-military politicians were promoting a widespread call for protests on 24 August 2012 to “bring down the rule of the Brotherhood,” al-Destour newspaper released a set of headlines on its front page on 11 August warning of the perils of continued Muslim Brotherhood control of the presidency. The paper stated that the Muslim Brotherhood would try to impose its own constitution to the detriment of civil liberties and freedoms, and that it would seek to replace senior military leaders with its own loyalists. The series of headlines concludes:

Saving Egypt from the imminent destruction will not happen without the unity of the army and the people, the formation of a national salvation front consisting of political and military leaders, and the upholding an unequivocally civil state with military protection, exactly like the Turkish system. 

In sum, when it first made its debut in political discourse in Egypt, the term the “Turkish model” came to embody a vision for a political system in which Egypt’s military would retain its unusual privileges and override conventional modes of accountability and transparency all in the name of preserving democratic stability. 

What Can Political Islam Do For You 

It was not long after SCAF’s ascendancy that the Muslim Brotherhood advanced an alternative vision for what the “Turkish model” meant in the context of Egypt. The decision of Egypt’s largest Islamist group to choose “Freedom and Justice” as the name of its newly founded party in the spring of 2011 immediately drew the attention of observers who saw similarity between the name of the Brotherhood’s party and that of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (commonly known by its Turkish acronym AKP). It was even reported that Turkish Prime Minister and AKP leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan jokingly remarked at a 2011 Cairo gathering that Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood should pay royalties to his party for borrowing part of its name.

It was clear in the immediate aftermath of Mubarak’s downfall that the Brotherhood looked to the AKP experience as a ruling party with great interest. This was apparent in the frequency of FJP visits to Turkey to meet with their AKP counterparts—with a view to develop strategies for dealing with pressing governance challenges that Egypt’s ruling party faced, not to mention the Brotherhood’s expressed interest in deepening economic ties and various forms of cooperation with Turkey

The Brothers’ own campaign rhetoric during both the legislative and presidential elections reflected a perspective that sets Turkey as the standard against which their own achievements in Egypt should be judged. It was between the lower and upper house legislative elections in early 2012 when an FJP official stated that his party’s program would make Egypt’s economy better than that of Turkey in the course of seven years. This was not the only time that Muslim Brotherhood figures, or government officials, under Brotherhood rule referred to Turkey as the benchmark for evaluating their own performance. More recently, Muslim Brotherhood sponsored Minister of Information Salah Abdel Maqsoud stated that if people would just show some patience toward the current regime, it would deliver successes that far exceeds those of the Turkish experience. 

The Muslim Brotherhood’s use of the AKP’s experience in its own propaganda was most visible in April 2012 when the Brotherhood announced that it would nominate its strongman Khairat El-Shater in the prospective presidential election. Although the presidential elections commission ended up disqualifying El-Shater, and the Brotherhood ultimately rallied behind the candidacy of FJP leader Mohamed Morsi, the promo of El-Shater’s short-lived campaign was comically memorable. The promo was based on a song that featured a chorus calling on Egyptians to celebrate the arrival of Egypt’s “Erdogan.” The chorus went: “Here comes the happy news. Soon the whole world will be festive. Rejoice, oh country, for he is coming…the new Erdogan of Egypt.”    

 


[Khairat El-Shater presidential election campaign promo]

 

The appeal of the Turkish experience to the Brotherhood was rather different from, though (as explained below) not inconsistent with, the military’s vision of a Turkish model. As opposed to the constitution-centric vision that the military and its supporters espoused of a political process that is managed and—if necessary—arbitrated by the army, the Brotherhood’s portrayal of the Turkish experience was much more focused on its currently ruling AKP and the party’s perceived success in the realm of economic management and, to some extent, foreign policy. To the Brotherhood, the Turkish model exemplified the triumph of a fellow Islamist party in asserting and institutionalizing its electoral and political dominance, and to employ its "internationally recognized" record in delivering economic prosperity to contain and sideline its ideological adversaries.

This line of reasoning was reflected on a rare occasion in a July 2011 article in the Lebanese al-Akhbar by high-ranking Brotherhood and FJP leader Essam El-Erian, who shared his views of the so-called Turkish model. Interestingly, the article seemed to—at least in part—come in response to prevailing opinions at the time among some Egyptian liberals who saw in Turkey’s democratic experience a model for “upholding secularism.” El-Erian laments that many proponents of the Turkish model are seeking to impose “an exclusionary, abhorrent secularism,” and "to give the military a political role under the pretext of protecting the democratic political system, when in reality this is done to protect secularists, minorities, and foreign interests." Those who hold that view, El-Erian writes, “forget that Turkish democracy has corrected its mistakes, and that Turkish secularism is in decline with the proper application of democracy.”

If not the legacy of secular continuity, what then are the virtues of the Turkish model for El-Erian? Reflecting a strong interest in the record of the AKP, he says that the case of Turkey has shown that peaceful, democratic processes, and not violent uprisings and coups, are the best path for implementing the “Islamic project.” El-Erian praises what he describes as the success of Turkey’s Islamists in building popular support by balancing between their societal mission to promote the faith and their role in formal political life. He further attributes the political success of Turkish Islamists to their economic policies, and their ability to “to deal with businesspeople,” “promote transparency and competitiveness,” and “stimulate savings and investments,” such that they managed to secure people’s continued support. El-Erian argues in his exposé that Turkey’s domestic stability and cohesion are the basis on which the country was able to assume an important regional and international role in recent years.

The vision that El-Erian articulates in his piece is distinct in two important respects.

Firstly, it is prefaced with a strong rejection of the narrative that portrays Turkey’s example as one of secular triumph. This was not surprising given an underlying context in which many Egyptian liberals at the time were actively advocating for supra-constitutional principles that could supposedly protect against any attempts by the electorally powerful Islamists to alter the “non-religious” character of the state. In other words, El-Erian’s vision reflected a broader effort to contest the dominant, secular-friendly understanding of the Turkish model—one that the Brotherhood viewed with great skepticism.

The selectiveness with which the Brotherhood approaches Turkey’s democratic experience, specifically the Brothers’ strong rejection and denial of its secular dimensions, was quite apparent during Prime Minister Erdogan’s visit to Egypt in September 2011. After tens of thousands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters received the Turkish premier at the Cairo airport with enthusiastic chants, the group’s officials later issued strongly worded statements in response to remarks by Erdogan encouraging Egyptians to adopt a secular constitution. "Secular states,” Ergodan said, “do not mean areligiosity, but rather respect for all religions and granting every individual the freedom to practice his own religion." Erdogan was also quoted as saying that he heads a secular state, even though he himself is not secular, and that he does not consider the AKP to be an “Islamist party.” The irony was uncanny. The main character in the Brotherhood’s fairy tale account of the “Turkish model” was publically disputing the basic elements of the same “success story” that he had supposedly led. 

Muslim Brotherhood spokesperson Mohamed Ghozlan countered that Erdogan’s comments constituted an unacceptable attempt at interfering in Egyptian domestic affairs. Rejecting the Turkish Prime Minister’s call for a secular constitution in Egypt, FJP leader Mohsen Radi said that the “Turkish model” is not applicable to Egypt. "Neither Erdogan, nor anyone else has the right to interfere in the domestic affairs of another country and impose a specific model on it," said none other than Essam El-Erian only a few months after publishing his exposé of the virtues of the so-called Turkish model. Therefore, on some levels, Erdogan’s visit was a rare moment that highlighted how conveniently selective the Brotherhood was in conceptualizing the “Turkish model” in order to accommodate its own vision for the “new” Egypt—one that was highly antagonistic toward calls for separating religion and politics.

Secondly, El-Erian’s aforementioned vision of the Turkish model proceeds on the explicit assumption that the current political dominance of the AKP is grounded in its economic success, which afforded it a popular base, one that would ultimately overwhelm its political rivals. The view resonates with Brotherhood statements that economic prosperity is on the way, and that critics must hold off until the FJP’s so-called renaissance project bears its fruits. This line of reasoning was apparent in Muslim Brotherhood General Guide Mohamed Badie’s remarks last March in response to growing strikes, protests, and calls for bringing down Muslim Brotherhood. He called on Egyptians to show some patience and to look at the “Turkish experience,” in which the ruling AKP succeeded in gradually achieving a “Turkish renaissance” since coming to power in 2002.

Despite the stark difference in the economic contexts, as many critical observers have noted, the Brotherhood and its affiliates have presented Turkey’s recent economic experience, which the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has often touted as one of the success stories of neoliberal reform, as a source of inspiration. During the lead up the 2011-2012 legislative elections, FJP Secretary General Saad El-Katatny said that his party, if elected, would seek to apply the Turkish economic experience in Egypt. This attitude did not seem to change after the Brotherhood’s FJP assumed power. Most recently, al-Morsy Hegazy, the minister of finance in the Mohamed Morsi-sponsored government, said in April 2013 that Egypt plans to look for guidance in Turkey’s internationally lauded record in economic reform. His comments came as the Egyptian government was (and continues to be) engaged in talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to negotiate a controversial 4.8 billion dollar loan agreement. While thus far talks between the Egyptian government and the IMF have proceeded with little transparency and no clear engagement with domestic stakeholders, observers anticipate that the potential agreement will entail socially destabilizing reforms that could undermine the January 25 Revolution’s demands for greater social and economic rights.

The Turkish model for the Brothers seems to revolve around the story of political dominance justified and reinforced by an economic “renaissance” that has captured the admiration and approval of international financial institutions.

The Merger of Turkish Models: In Opposition to Popular Sovereignty

The tension between the respective visions of the military and the Brotherhood for a so-called Turkish model was apparent during the summer and fall of 2011. Throughout that period, the Brotherhood, along with other Islamist political forces, mounted strong opposition to the joint efforts of the SCAF and “liberal” politicians to advance the aforementioned supra-constitutional principles, or what was famously known as the al-Selmi document. The Brotherhood adopted an antagonistic tone toward the military and claimed that the SCAF was trying to undercut the will of people by imposing dictates on prospective constitution writers. At some point, then-FJP leader Mohamed Morsi—who would become president less than a year later—warned of a second revolution if the al-Selmi document were to pass. On 18 November 2011, the Brotherhood, along with allied groups, organized a million person rally in Tahrir Square, rejecting the proposed al-Selmi document and calling for an end for military rule.

Fast-forward a year later, Mohamed Morsi, now president of Egypt, was building support for a draft constitution, which failed to garner support from the vast majority of the non-Islamist political community. More importantly, the draft contained provisions that did not differ much from those proposed in the al-Selmi document, which the Brotherhood had once opposed. Specifically, the constitution delegated the affairs of the military away from parliamentary oversight and public scrutiny and, instead, to an officers-controlled National Defense Council. The absence of meaningful civilian oversight of military affairs in the Brotherhood sponsored constitution spoke to a tacit accommodation between the Muslim Brotherhood-controlled presidency and the military.

Even after the formal end of military rule on 30 June 2012, and the forced retirement of senior military generals on 12 August 2012, the Morsi presidency and the Muslim Brotherhood have worked hard on maintaining their accomodationist stance toward the military. For example, until this day no senior military leader has been brought to justice for crimes committed during SCAF’s rule. Morsi still refuses to act on a presidential fact-finding commission report that implicated senior army leaders in murdering and torturing protesters. When the said report was leaked to the media, causing public outcry, President Morsi responded by promoting military leaders and praising the army’s role in defending the January 25 Revolution. Since taking office, the president has not spared the military of praise at every critical juncture, most recently during his 26 June 2013 speech in which he scolded his opponents for calling for his resignation and early presidential election.

How did so much change within the course of one year?

It seemed that the military and the Brotherhood have reconciled the two abovementioned visions for the future of Egypt, combining the military’s admiration for the abnormal constitutional status that the Turkish army has maintained at different points in time with the Brotherhood’s lust for political dominance à la AKP. It is largely for this reason that the term “Turkish model” has proliferated in Egyptian political discourse. The wealth and dynamism of Turkish democratic experience over the past three decades have imbued the term the “Turkish model” with sufficient ambiguity such that it could mean vastly different things at the same time, including the two once-competing visions of the Muslim Brotherhood and the military. In other words, the term “Turkish model” in the context of Egypt has come to epitomize the joint efforts of the officers and the Brothers to build a political order that challenges revolutionary notions of popular sovereignty, be it by preserving the army’s unchecked ownership of significant parts of the country’s resources; supporting the political hegemony of Islamist forces; or sidelining demands for distributive justice in favor of orthodox economic prescriptions. There may be nothing Turkish about this so-called “Turkish model” of which Egyptians speak. But through the conveniently selective narratives of supporters of the army and the Muslim Brotherhood, the term has come to epitomize the diverse set of counter-revolutionary ambitions that Egypt’s wielders of power hold today. 

It is, therefore, unsurprising that the fusion of the two visions, or, stared differently, the beginning of the existing accommodation between the officers and the Brothers, started showing its earliest signs after one of the most intense episodes of revolutionary popular mobilization following Mubarak’s downfall. Widespread demonstrations happening the in the wake of the Mohamed Mahmoud Street battles (19-24 November), and the al-Qasr al-Einy Street clashes (16-19 December) cast doubt on whether legislative elections would proceed as scheduled, threatening to undermine the political gains that the Brothers had made up until that point. It was during that period that the Muslim Brotherhood came to experience firsthand the perils and unnerving uncertainties of unchecked popular mobilization.

As demonstrators and revolutionary protest movements called for an immediate end to military rule and demanded a civilian-led transition, the Brotherhood began tempering its opposition to the SCAF. It was clear to the Brothers that popular calls for a new transitional framework could have easily jeopardized the electoral gains that the group was poised to secure during the 2011-12 legislative election, by virtue of being the country’s most organized political force. Therefore, the Muslim Brotherhood—which had just been calling for an end to military rule in Tahrir Square on 18 November 2011 in the wake of the al-Selmi document controversy—withheld support for subsequent anti-SCAF demonstrations and went back to electoral campaigning. A few weeks later, Brotherhood officials, most famously Mahmoud Ghozlan, broke with their previously hostile orientation toward the military and signaled that they were ready to grant military leaders special privileges following the transitional period. This was the first clear indication of an emergent pact between the Muslim Brotherhood and the military. It was this evolving understanding that eventually provided the basis for the existing Egyptian political order, in which the Brotherhood’s control of the presidency and civilian bureaucracies is contingent upon its acceptance of the military’s longstanding political and economic privileges.

There is no question that the road to negotiating this understanding was full of bumps and public disagreements, but it did eventually take hold as evidenced by the 2012 constitution that institutionalized the pact between the Brothers and the officers. The irony was not lost on anyone when, two days before Morsi signed the said constitution into law in December 2012, then-Minister of Legal Affairs Mohamed Mahsoub stated that Egypt’s transition is following a path similar to that of Turkey. It also remains that the current pact—or what I have described in this article as the merger of the respective “Turkish models” of the Egyptian military and the Muslim Brotherhood—emerged in opposition to (and perhaps out of fear of) popular mobilization and revolutionary demands for deeper, more transformative change inside the Egyptian state.

Gezi Park, 30 June, and the Collapse of Models

For over two years since Mubarak’s ouster, the story of the Turkish model in Egypt remained an elite-led contest among the officers and powerful politicians. It reflected the counter-revolutionary discourse of the wielders of power as they competed and cooperated among themselves to carve out the terms of the new social order in post-Mubarak Egypt. Devoid of any respect to notions of popular sovereignty, this process excluded the partisans of the January 25 Revolution and widespread demands for a say in determining Egypt’s future. Thus, it was only natural for the “Turkish model” to evolve into a term that embodied everything revolutionary activists loath: exclusionary pacts; bureaucratic corruption; military control; elitist politics; regressive neoliberal economic prescriptions; and shallow democratic institutions. However, something changed in this equation with the outbreak of the Gezi Park protests in May 2013. After a long association between the “Turkish model” and a host of reactionary initiatives that successive rulers have imposed on them in the name of that model, partisans of the January 25 Revolution finally found in this once distasteful Turkish soap opera a protagonist with whom they felt a strong affinity: the people.

Claiming that Gezi Park protests have generated a new, progressive understanding of the “Turkish model” in Egypt is going too far. Yet at the same time, it is fair to say that the protests did provide activists with a rare opportunity to subvert the discourse of the wielders of power about the virtues of the Turkish experience and the promise it holds for the new Egypt. Such efforts also coincided with the lead up to the 30 June protests that Tamarod Campaign organized to pressure President Morsi into resigning after twenty-two million Egyptians signed a petition calling for early presidential elections. “Revolution, revolution in every place, down with Morsi and Erodgan,” chanted the Revolutionary Socialists in front of the Turkish Embassy in Cairo earlier this month at a demonstration organized in solidarity with the Turkish protests. In social media, Egyptian  revolutionary groups were reporting about anti-government protests in Turkey almost the same way they would if those demonstrations were happening in Egypt.

On the other hand, the FJP’s newspaper and official Facebook Page adopted an overtly critical tone of the Gezi Park protests, devoting a considerable amount of space to cover Prime Minister Erdogan’s reactions and statements. After years of presenting the AKP and the Turkish experience as template for success, Muslim Brotherhood officials were aggressively defending their Turkish “counterparts,” and assuring the public that what Erdogan confronts in Turkey is not a revolution, but rather a conspiracy aimed at the “Islamic project” in the region as a whole. “We will be triumph as an Islamic nation against the bats of dependency and humiliation," said Essam El-Erian in reaction to the Turkish protests. The Brotherhood did not hide the impression that its own credibility was on the line, and not just that of its allies in Turkey. For example, in reporting about Erdogan’s speech in an Ankara rally on 15 June, the FJP official Facebook Page posted photos of the gathering with the caption

Erdogan's speech at a rally of supporters of the Justice and Development Party in Ankara, organized under the slogan “respect the will of the people.” In the language of some: He is preaching to his family and tribe in the midst of supportive demonstrators of his own group.

The “family and tribe” (ahly wa ‘ashirati) expression comes in reference to an infamous phrase that Morsi used in the opening lines of his first speech after he was declared president. Critics often refer to that phrase to insinuate that the president only addresses his own partisans (“his family and tribe”) rather than all Egyptians. Clearly, for the administrators of FJP’s Facebook Page, it was not only Erdogan whom Egyptians were judging at that point, but also their very own Mohamed Morsi.

On a deeper level, the discursive war that surfaced between the Brotherhood and its challengers about the “Turkish model” following the outbreak of the Gezi Park protests symbolizes the challenges that partisans of the January 25 Revolution confront today on 30 June 2013. As they try to force the resignation of President Morsi in order make way for a more transformative change that lives up the expectations of the revolution, advocates of the Tamarod Campaign find themselves in a face-off with all the counter-revolutionary structures and institutions that the “Turkish model” has come to signify in the Egyptian context. Most notably, they find themselves in direct confrontation with the aforementioned pact between the officers and the Brothers. As explained, the formation of this pact was based on a reconciliation of two competing interpretations of the Turkish model. In this respect, one could argue that the challenge of 30 June is one of subverting the “Turkish model” that the Muslim Brotherhood and its partners inside the military have imposed on Egypt.

But what comes after subverting the model?

As many opponents of Muslim Brotherhood’s rule implicitly and explicitly call on (or hope for) the military to intervene and take the side of the protesters, one cannot help but grapple with the question: What alternative can emerge to replace the pact between the Brothers and the officers? A social order in which the state finally heeds popular demands for bread, freedom, and social justice? Or yet another, equally regressive “Turkish model,” in which the military and new civilian counterparts rule Egypt by exclusionary pacts, along the lines of the al-Selmi document? Or perhaps those who will take to the streets on 30 June and beyond will refuse to go full circle. Perhaps they will resist Turkish models altogether.

 

[This article is published jointly with Mada Masr.]

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