Was the June 30 uprising akin to the January 25 revolution, a continuation of it, or a failure of it?
It was a good thing for Egypt, for a variety of reasons, that Mohammed Mursi prevailed over Mubarak’s last Prime Minister, Ahmad Shafiq, in the run-offs last year. It was a pity, however, that within just a few weeks, it became clear that Mr. Mursi felt no obligation to keep to promises he made to the electorate. Criticism of Mr. Mursi and his administration began then, and rightly so, as holding those in power to account is one of the freedoms that were given by the 25th of January revolution. In the spring, there were those who urged Mr. Mursi to change course in order to avoid a situation that might lead to a military intrusion into the civilian arena in the summer (for the author’s article on this in these pages, see here).
Some of that all panned out – but the military did not wait for mass deaths to intervene. It’s been clear for months that the military has been in touch with different parts of the opposition as well as the government, and even with civil society groups that wanted early presidential elections. Their message had always been clear to the opposition and to the government: it is best you sort out your differences. Less clear, however, were the disputes the military leadership was having with Mr. Mursi on national security issues, particularly within Sinai. The military hoped they could prevail upon the president to listen to his national security advisors in the military – but they knew that any intervention on their part beyond private counsel would be illegitimate.
[The economy is] an issue where [Rouhani] has a greater chance of avoiding real gridlock within the system itself. It’s not nearly as dangerous as taking on issues of political prisoners or trying to open up the political space to those who feel marginalized.