LONDON – The events that led Egypt’s military to remove President Mohamed Morsi confronted the army with a simple choice: intervention or chaos. Seventeen million people in the street is not the same thing as an election. But it is an awesome manifestation of people power.
Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood was unable to shift from being an opposition movement to being a governing party. Of course, governments govern badly or well or averagely. But this is different. Egypt’s economy is tanking. Ordinary law and order has virtually disappeared. Services are not functioning properly.
Individual ministers did their best. A few weeks back, I met the tourism minister, who I thought was excellent and had a sensible plan to revive the sector. A few days later, he resigned, after Morsi took the mind-boggling step of appointing as Governor of Luxor province (a key tourist destination) someone who was affiliated with the group responsible for the terrorist attack in 1997 – Egypt’s worst ever – in which more than 60 tourists in Luxor were killed.
Now the army is faced with the delicate and arduous task of steering the country back onto a path toward elections and a rapid return to democratic rule. We must hope that they can do this without further bloodshed. Meanwhile, however, someone will have to run things and govern. This will mean making some tough, even unpopular decisions. It will not be easy.