So there is a third camp that has emerged in Egypt; just as there is one in every conflict, and particularly when the options on the forefront are not desirable. The members are Egyptians who neither want religious fascism nor the army.
A good place to start is Facebook where a search surfaced Ahrar Movement, the Third Direction and El Midan El Talet- the 3rd Square. They all believe in a third option; they all disagree on what that third option is. The groups are still in infancy; the “third camp” is still an idea, in my own opinion, that hasn’t formed into a strong trend or force of power. Until this happens, we are going to see a couple of different names and descriptions.
I connected with members and the founder of the Facebook group, the Third Direction to learn why they believe that the current tumult in the most populous and strategic Middle East country mandates other solutions.
The current political canvas has three general segments:
1) Pro-military rule
3) Revolutionary Block
Camp 3 includes the founders of Tamarod (not the signatories), and socialist and anarcho-communist groups (leftist anarchists/leftist liberals). Upper class Egyptians are scattered between segments 1 and 3. Lower class mostly belongs to Group 1. Today a good part of Camp 3 are sympathizing with the MB on humanitarian grounds and out of fear of a Nasser-like move by Sisi. These are the third way people.
THE SITUATION ON GROUND
June 30th saw everyone unite against the Islamists. With the latest wave of violence by the security forces, the June 30th movement has become fragmented, with some staying loyal to the army, and some others withdrawing their loyalty to the murderers.
The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) is trying to win over the revolutionary block by reminding them of what happened under SCAF in 2011 (the events that the MB themselves used to publicly support). Many here believe that the rhetoric adopted by the Brotherhood is more emotionally geared where they play victims of abuse (in contrast to their very violent rhetoric till date).
The military, on the other hand, is trying to cast away any fears that the revolutionary block might have about having a repeat of 2011 or Gamal Abdel Nasser’s military state. The military are avoiding confrontations since that could stir sympathy within the revolutionary block and disrupt the unity. The Brotherhood seem to be looking for such confrontations and are making sure the violence against them gets recorded.
“The Third way” is part of the revolutionary block segment that is sympathizing with the MB on humanitarian grounds but is against the MB as a political entity. No one seems to want Morsi back. Even the Ikhwaan, realizes that he won’t be coming back. So why has it been protesting and causing such confrontations, one may ask? This mystery remains unsolved.
The fear is that if Egyptians permit the army and the police to go beyond humane treatment today, then one-day Egypt will be in the MB’s shoes, especially if the military decides to cancel or postpone the elections.
The groups believe that the best thing the military can do is re-affirm the temporary status of this government by continuously reminding people that elections are coming and that they’ll soon be back on the road of a democratic process. As long as this is not the primary focus of the military’s rhetoric, Egyptians will always be worried that Abdel Fattah Saeed Hussein Khalil el- Sisi, the commander of Egypt’s armed forces, might make a Nasser move and will resort to the same violent methods being used against the MB today in controlling the Egyptian public.
Hisham Kahil belongs to this third generation of ideas. He tries to explain, “I think the third camp are also divided on whether the Rab3a people (Pro-Morsi Supporter camped in at Rab3a el 3adaweya square) are a real threat to security or not. I personally believe they are.”
Hisham believes that there are subtle differences between the youth group Tamarod and the revolutionary block.
“They certainly belong to that same age group but they seem not as naive as the other young revolutionary movements (leftists) which makes me think they share the rest of the block’s enthusiasm but are the better ones at practicing politics.”
The latter have learned from past mistakes; the former (leftist and anarchist groups) are too naive in his view.
Now, it is important to note that not each segment is completely homogeneous but they do share the same basic goals despite the variations. They all want Egypt to be a liberal social democracy akin to Scandinavian countries.
At first they had accepted Morsi’s 4-year term as a fact. The third way never expected Tamarod to be THAT successful in getting people to hit the streets but of course once they saw the numbers that supported them on the streets, they got a boost.
“It saves us the pain of waiting for a full term,” explained Kahil.
THE STATUS QUO
So as long as elections are made without postponements and dubious games the third camp are pretty much content with how things have been unfolding. So while elections are not until next year, Egyptians, save for the Morsi camp, are quite convinced with the delay. There is wide spread agreement that Sisi has a formidable task ahead of him- he has to stabilize the security situation, amend the constitution, and hold parliamentary elections- all of which must be done before the Presidential elections.
Kahil goes on to explain, “Installing a temporary president and adding politicians that the block considers as “Idols” like El Barad3y (and getting them to stand next to him as he announced Morsy’s kicking out) also helped us swallow the road map. Its as if the military went out of its way to re-assure us that they wont screw us over. “
The status quo has another advantage; with the Military and the MB head to head against each other will decrease the popularity of both. This is the perfect opportunity for the revolutionaries to restore image after SCAF and the MB destroyed it since the revolution in 2011.
If anything, this is the time the young movements should become better organized, be united and establish good rapport with all Egyptians so that when it’s election time, they can actually have a go at the ballot. The question that begs to be answered is whether the various segments of the third camp are able to do just this and emerge into something more concrete than a group on Facebook.
Listen to a commentary by Mohammed Wafaa Rizkallah, the 27-year old founder of the Third Direction.