COMMENTARY | Depending on how one looks at it, either the drive for democracy in Egypt or the plot by the Muslim Brotherhood to create an Islamist state along the Nile has suffered a grievous blow .
The Egyptian Supreme Court has ordered the newly elected Parliament dissolved, claiming that its formation was unconstitutional. It has also upheld the right of Ahmed Shafiq, Hosni Mubarak's last prime minister, to run for president. Shafiq is the favored candidate of the Egyptian Army and is running against the Muslim Brotherhood-picked candidate.
The move appears to be an attempt by the Egyptian Army to forestall the establishment of an Islamist state that would alienate the country's allies in the West and would break the cold peace with Israel, risking a Middle East war that Egypt could not win. As of right now, the Egyptian military council is in control of the country, more or less, with the power to arrest people who make trouble. Whoever is elected president will have extraordinary powers with no checks or balances, no parliament and not constitution.
The Muslim Brotherhood, understandably, is not taking things lying down. According to Reuters, it has called for protests on Friday, June 15, on the Muslim Sabbath. The question arises, where will the secular reformers fall in with, the Muslim Brotherhood against what amounts to a military coup, or with the Army, on the theory that whatever arises will be a more secular government without the extremism of Islamist sharia law.
Meanwhile, as usual unable to affect events in Egypt, the United States State Department was reduced to expressing the hope that the restoration of military rule would somehow still pave the way to democracy, according to the Sun Daily. The Obama Administration which, like every administration before it, had backed Mubarak as an American ally, had turned on the former Egyptian president when the original "Arab Spring" uprising occurred over a year ago.
Look for chaos and violence to reign for the foreseeable future, especially if Shafiq wins the presidential election. The Muslim Brotherhood has resorted to violence before to try to obtain its political goals and may well do so again. This would provide the Egyptian Army an excuse to crack down even harder, even against more secular democratic reformists. The current rulers of Egypt value order more than they do freedom.