What Egypt needs now is leaders who can put aside their political differences, overcome real and perceived injustices and work for the good of the whole country. For now, this seems too much to ask.
The Muslim Brotherhood has had its president deposed, members killed during protests and its leaders are facing arrest and charges of inciting violence. They are understandably angry and will feel hard-pressed to join the political transition outlined by Egypt’s interim authorities.
But, however difficult, they have no choice but to recognise the consequences of their mistakes in government and become a constructive part of the efforts to stabilise the country. The alternative is to throw themselves into a dangerous spiral of protest and violence. The army and the interim authorities, who now hold power, must realise that they cannot run the country with the same arrogance that was the hallmark of the former president, Mohammad Mursi. They must learn from his mistakes.
It is necessary that the interim authorities go out of their way to win the support of the Brotherhood for a transition that leads to an inclusive, elected government in Egypt that will be able to meet the needs of all its people. A crackdown on the Brotherhood and the arrest of its leaders is politically unwise, to put it mildly.
Despite the popular mandate for overthrow of Mursi, the Brotherhood and its supporters have significant support in Egypt — enough to ensure a prolonged period of political and economic instability if they do not become part of the process.
And, the activists who led the revolt, must accept the most difficult responsibility of leadership — compromising and building popular consensus. While it is easy to mobilise discontent, Egypt cannot be run from the streets. Now its people must be counselled patience while the country finds its way out of its present predicament. It takes political discipline, hard choices and sustainable policies — not only populism — to build a prosperous country.
Egypt needs its leaders to understand their responsibilities to the country — and reach out to each other.