This week’s military coup in Egypt ended the Muslim Brotherhood’s brief rule as a democratically elected government, and post-coup crackdowns against the group have suggested that if another election is held, they won’t be welcome to run.
It’s being taken as a lesson in democracy for groups in the region, especially Islamic groups. The lesson is that democracy simply isn’t going to work for them.
Every call for an opposition faction to try to implement change in a country through political means must always be considered in the context of whether or not that country’s military will allow it. In a region awash with militaries with a long history of cracking down on Islamist factions, the answer is simply no.
In the near term this may be welcomed by some, as abandoning the Egypt model will likely take momentum away from Islamist political movements region-wide, especially in nations with a history of coups.
In the long run, however, barring a popular ideology from political participation must inevitably set the stage for more violent transfers of power, as the failure of democracy to facilitate a peaceful transition of power will encourage such factions to re-visit violence as a means of facilitating change.