I prefer to see what happened as a great fire, which many shared in starting, some out of negligence and stupidity, some out of revenge, some of out greed and some out of inattention. Everyone thought his own actions explained the fire’s outbreak, but the truth, God knows, is they all joined in starting it… And what matters is that they started it, and the army came to power claiming to put it out.
I underlined this passage, earlier this summer, in Ezzedine Choukri Fishere’s novel Bab El Khoroug, (‘The Way Out’). Choukri Fishere is a former Egyptian diplomat, a professor of political science and the author of several previous novels. He published Bab El Khoroug in instalments in the Egyptian newspaper El Tahrir last year. The novel, set in the year 2020, looks back on a military takeover, a complete breakdown of government and security, the rise of an unlikely dictator and the massacres he oversees, the election of a Muslim Brotherhood president, and yet another military coup.
Not all the details are plausible and not all the scenarios correspond to anything we’ve seen. But the human, political and geostrategic elements are all familiar. By now, the only major plot point that doesn’t have a real-world parallel is the regional war that forms the book’s backdrop. [Continue reading…]