Egyptian Muslim Brother says Mauritania coup reflects crisis in Arab democracy

Egyptian Muslim Brother says Mauritania coup reflects crisis in Arab democracy

[Article by Dr Isam al-Aryyan: “the coup in Mauritania and the crisis of democracy.”]


The 10th coup was not a surprise to the people of Mauritania. Its political and military elite was expecting the coup. However, the coup was a shock to the supporters of freedom and democracy in the Arab Homeland who welcomed the peaceful transition of power via free and fair elections. It should be recalled that the latest coup was staged in Mauritania in 2005, or more than two years ago. Egyptian Legal Counselor al-Khudayri was so impressed with the developments to the point he wrote: “I wish I was a Mauritanian.”


The military coup, which as usual, wrapped itself in the cloth of a “corrective movement,” is a reflection of the crisis that exists between the Arab societies, on the one hand, and Arab armies and elite, on the other. It is also a reflection of the crisis of the democratic transition of power and the management of the Arab societies through peaceful alternation of power. In addition, it is a reflection of the “conspiracy mentality” of the Arab citizen, and consequently, he reacts with despair, frustration, and unwillingness to actively participate in the party and political life for the sake of peaceful change.


Observers are now saying that the incoming president is the last commander of the military tribunal, ould Val, and that he will follow the same policies as those of Mu”awiyah Ould Tayeh but in a new form, that relations with the Zionist enemy will continue and expand, that the West is supporting him, and that these coup men are his loyal men who were with him in the former transitional military tribunal.


The role of the armies in the Arab political life is a very controversial question. This role has been going on in the past and modern history. The state bureaucracy used to have three functions. First is to protect and defend the country against foreign danger. The second is to keep law and order and achieve stability. And the third is to secure the prevelance of the system of justice among people. [Passage omitted, noting that Arab armies exist in a corrupt and despotic social environment and this is one of the reasons why they often act to overthrow one regime and install another]


The Arab elite has not managed to draft a specific role for the military in our country. In fact, the role of the military in Turkey, despite the criticism levelled against it, has beome an example of the role which should exist in a semi democratic country. The role of the army here is to achieve a reconciliation between Islamic culture and democratic traditions, all the more so because the Turks have managed to restrain the role of the military and to keep the Turkish army alienated from its function of staging coups.


The role of Europe in this connection is evident for everyone to see. In fact, Europe has opened the door of hope for Turkey to join the European Union and has constantly warned the military against interference in political life contrary to the West which supports the coups in the remaining part of the Arab and Islamic worlds. The Musharraf coup in Pakistan was not the last while France was accused of being behind the recent coup in Mauritania.


Supporters of the Mauritanian coup describe what happened as a corrective movement, and this enhances the suspicion that everything was planned by the military tribunal, that it was the army which brought in President Sidi Ould Cheikh after creating for him a parliamentary majority of the ruling party during the rule of President Ould Tayeh. [passage omitted, noting the major role of the army in political change]


If this suspicion is true, it would prompt the Arab citizen to loose faith in change by his free will and choice. In this case, even the scenario of democracy becomes something that is made by the military elite while the people and their political leaders and popular figures have absolutely no role to play.


Needless to say, military discipline dictates on the armies not to become involved in politics. Officers and soldiers confirmed to be involved in politics are dismissed from the military service while the commanders of the armies who have no political background or training run the affairs of the State after the military coup succeeds. These experiment on people what they have never expirmented all their lives. Thus the country reaps failure after failure because they no longer had a strong army capable of defending the country against foreign danger or a healthy civil administration that can achieve political, economic and social development, and the country starts revolving into a vicious circle of failure.


I can only recall with bitterness and regret the only political experiment of the military in the Arab World, namely, the experiment of the military wing of the Socialist Arab Ba”th Party in Syria and Iraq. In the two countries, the military ruled directly or from behind the curtain. Now we can see the tragic results with our own eyes.


What is more regrettable and painful is that when the Arab people despair from the failed political elite, they turn to the only disciplined national institution they have, namely, the armed forces, particularly in times of crises, exactly in the same way it is happening in our country at the present time. We expect the armed forces to save us from our ordeal, and consequently, we start turning into a new vicious circle of adventures and failures.


It is still early to judge the new political developments in Mauritania or the direction in which things will develop. However, the clear message of the Mauritanian coup has reached the Arab citizen who is still sitting by as a spectator or observer with no real role to play other than reacting emotionally to the scenes which he had no part in making. The Arab citizen is in fact incapable of leaving his seat if he ever gets bored of the repetition of these scenes. The doors for immigrations are closed in his face and the death boats are awaiting the immigrants.