HALA ELKHOLY > Morsi takes Egypt by surprise

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Egyptians should be immune to surprises by now, but they were again taken off balance this week when the nation was informed of the president’s decision to relieve Field Marshal Hussein Tantawy and his deputy General Sami Enan, of their positions, decorate them and take them on as advisors. In one neat stroke, President Morsi ended the shared power status quo that has prevailed since his election.

Currently, and until Egypt has a constitution and elects its new parliament, Morsi enjoys total power.

It took a few hours for the new reality to sink in. For those who looked to the army to safeguard a complete takeover of the Muslim Brotherhood, the decisions were a harsh wake up call. Egyptians, who voted Morsi into power, were joined by some who hailed this as move forward towards the change required. For most, it once more rocked their worlds with confusion and the fear of the unknown. The news seemed to be well received internationally, and a few days later positive economic support for the country was highlighted by the newly appointed prime minister. 

The president himself was quick and adamant to reassure everyone that this was not done in retaliation against anyone or any institution, insisting that the move was in the best interest of Egypt.

The two were replaced by younger officers from the ranks who are yet not well known by the public. The move included other leading officers who were also relieved of their posts and given non-military positions. The president was confident enough to leave on a state visit the next morning.

There is no doubt that the changes were well received within the political establishment and seemingly also within the military. After more than a year of a public power struggles between the Supreme Military Council, who had been managing Egypt’s affairs, and the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice party, this one smooth move ended the standoff peacefully in favor of the latter. However, the opposition is growing. Again, President Morsi has yet to demonstrate that his loyalty is to Egypt and not the brotherhood, that he is non-partisan, and that he will live up to his presidential promises, which he must do if he is to gain the trust and support of many Egyptians. 

The package of decisions included more to contemplate: Two other, even more consequential decisions were announced. The president named a deputy, Judge Mekky, and declared the June constitutional decree null and void. Without a constitution and short of an elected Parliament, Morsi reigns freely for the moment. A deputy who comes from the judiciary and is known to favor its independence might indicate an emphasis on creating a different legal structure and changes in legislation and indeed respect for the rule of law in the days to come.

On the other hand, fears of the consolidation of the rule of political Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood have been fueling the less-organized opposition into action. Calls for demonstrations on Aug. 24 have been controversial. The newly born Constitution Party seems to be slowly but surely setting up throughout the country. Its strength, together with its ability to consolidate the power of the handful of other liberal parties that have been engaged in the confrontation so far will only become apparent in the expected parliamentary elections this year.


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Rimon Tree

8/19/2012 3:00:12 PM

Nageyec bey! Don't you know that Hitler had the support of the majority as well? And he immediaterly did what Mursi does: Centralizing all the power on himself and his party after having claimed to establish "democracy" with the same incredible falsehood the MB promised not to present a presidential candidate. Shouldn't the people have been rather "scared" about that?

Nageyec Conduz

8/19/2012 12:10:14 PM

Rimon tree, your bye bye democracy sound like that Egypt was democratic under the late dictator Mubarak or all those powers which you have listed were safer in the hand of the junta. If this is the case you are arguing for, like it or not, Egypt is already different country. President Mursi has the backing of the majority of the Egyptians and may be this is what you are scared of.

Aryeh Rapaport

8/18/2012 2:59:50 PM

Mursi is wise! Turkey had to deal with military-civilian power struggles for decades which limited her potential and increased instability. Egypt in a smart way (with respect & honor) dismissed its old leaders which enables fresh blood, different personalities & loyalties. The Q is what happens now! Does he dismiss more ministers, military and inject MB people? Does he keep current figures and focus on internal policies? Does he attack Israel? These are Q's he should be more clear about.

Aryeh Rapaport

8/18/2012 2:50:30 PM

Blue, do you think its in Egypt interest to be "backed" by Russia? Iran? Turkey? China? India? Who should back Egypt? Mursi is not "backed" by US but sustaining relations with that country as its sustaining relations with ALL other countries. Do you expect Mursi to wake up a day after election and change regional partners? As I said who would be better? Egypt, SA, Turkey are 3 ME powers "realities" all friends with US...

Rimon Tree

8/18/2012 2:29:26 PM

Mursi took Egypt by surprise and he took her over completely, executive and legislative power, jurisdiction (probably Sharia), media, constitution commission all in one hand. Bye, bye democracy, come on theocracy! Thank you US and Qatar!

Blue Dotterel

8/18/2012 4:42:40 AM

Morsi at the moment is a dictator backed by US neo-liberalism. The "changes" that have occurred are more the result of bribes (2 billion from tyrannical Qatar) than democracy. Morsi is a technocrat educated in the US and subject to US control. Nothing has changed in Egypt except that there is a new dictator with a better democratic veneer to bamboozle the people.
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