Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Is The US Repeating The Same Mistake In Egypt?

Around a month ago, President Morsi decided to sack the Prosecutor General Abdel Mageed Mahmoud and appointed him as Egypt’s ambassador to the Vatican. Judges rose up against the president’s decision and threatened a nationwide boycott. Morsi immediately backed down, he even invited his nemesis to the presidential palace and reassured him that a “misunderstanding” happened.

Last Thursday, Morsi did not just sack the Prosecutor General (a demand revolutionaries called for since last year), but he issued a constitutional declaration granting himself absolute power over Egypt and safeguarding his decisions from any challenge. In addition to protecting his decisions, he also protected the constitution assembly and the Muslim Brotherhood dominated Shura Council from any possible decision by the Constitutional Court to disband any of these two entities. In other words, Morsi sacked the Prosecutor General, installed himself as a Pharaoh and prepared the way to shove the MB constitution down our throats. And if our throats were not wide enough, he might try out our behinds.

So what gave Morsi the guts to take such sweeping decisions? Last month, he backed down under pressure from some judges. Last Thursday, the MB and their presidential envoy, Mohamed Morsi, decided to break  pandora’s box open and face the wrath of the entire civilian force, the revolutionaries, the judges and millions of Egyptians who did not vote for him (48% voted for Ahmed Shafik). What changed? What gave Morsi and MB “the balls”?

I truly believe that if it wasn’t for Morsi’s role in the Gaza ceasefire and the gratitude he got from the Obama administration (and Israel), neither him nor his organization would have had the guts to take such surprising decisions. The MB is doing exactly like Mubarak: give the Americans what they really want and do what you really want. By playing a key role in convincing Hamas to accept a ceasefire, the MB have proven to the US that they can keep the peace in Israel and Palestine. In addition, unlike Mubarak, being the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, they showed they can really have more influence on Hamas, their official branch in Palestine.

The Obama Administration’s  reaction so far can only be described as weak and does not coincide with the seriousness of Morsi’s dictatorial decisions. Is the US back to doing the same mistake they did with Mubarak? Trading temporary peace in the Middle East with democracy in Egypt. I am not saying that the US gave Morsi the green light, but may be he took Hillary Clinton’s praise after the ceasefire as an indication that the MB finally reached the goal they have been frantically working towards achieving even during Mubarak: to be accepted by the US as a legitimate alternative to the Mubarak regime.

President Morsi made his two bold decisions, the last of which was his assumption of sweeping powers, only 24 hours after meeting with Hillary Clinton. Coincidence? Only time will tell.

  Posted by BP at 1:52 am Comments (2)
Saturday, November 10, 2012

Understanding Yesterday’s Pro-Shariah Protest

Once again, Tahrir was almost full of hardcore Islamists demanding the imposition of the puritanical version of Shariah. Islamist groups, mostly Salafis, amassed thousands of their followers from various poor governorates outside Cairo to pressure Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood president to implement what they believe to be God’s law.

Yesterday’s crowd was big, but it still did not reach the level of previous Islamist rallies. The two major Islamist parties, the MB and the Salafi Nour party, did not participate and this fact explains the real motive behind those who were in Tahrir yesterday.

The MB and Nour party are by far the two major Islamist parties involved in ruling post Mubarak Egypt. The Nour party was struck with various divisions but they remain to be the most organized Salafi party. They are currently trying to manage their uneasy relationship with the MB and try to extract as much political benefits as possible. The Nour party became the sole representative of the Salafi current in Egyptian politics. When the US ambassador wants to meet the Salafis, she goes to the Nour party.

This explains what happened in Tahrir. It was much more than a group of parties calling for Shariah. What we saw yesterday was a show of power by those fringe Islamist parties that did not benefit much from post revolution Egypt. It was their way of telling us “hey, we are here. Don’t think the MB and Nour are the only big guys here, we are big too and we managed to fill Tahrir”. Yesterday’s crowd included Hazem Abu Ismael, the presidential candidate who got delisted because his mother held dual nationality. Yesterday was his come back.

  Posted by BP at 8:51 am Comments (4)