Egypt’s Morsi Drops a Bombshell
by Eric Margolis: Scandal
A year ago,
I was mixing with demonstrators in Cairo’s Tahrir Square calling
for an end to Mubarak’s dictatorship and democracy for Egypt’s 84
Being a natural-born
firebrand, I find most revolutions intoxicating – if almost inevitably
disappointing or even ghastly.
What a difference
a year makes. Tahrir Square is now packed with Egyptians protesting
against the new revolutionary government led by the elected president,
Mohamed Morsi. Egypt is in political turmoil.
Morsi was fresh
from brokering a cease-fire in Gaza that earned fulsome praise for
him from Washington which had until then been cool to Egypt’s first
ever democratically-elected president. Islamist Morsi then turned
around and staged a bombshell auto-coup.
a decree granting him extensive – critics charge dictatorial – powers
that exempts all of Morsi’s decisions and those of the elected constituent
assembly from challenge by Egypt’s courts and other high government
institutions. The decree is valid until a new parliament is elected.
Howls of "dictatorship"
came from Egypt and from many nations abroad – the very same nations
that warmly collaborated with Mubarak’s ugly dictatorship for 30
years. Foes of the Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood cried, "you see,
you can’t trust those Islamists."
All this is
very curious. So far, Morsi has moved with extreme prudence to implement
free elections, reassure Christians and secular liberals, and deftly
break the iron grip of Egypt’s bloated armed forces. Few believed
that the colorless, low-key Morsi, a former political prisoner,
would be able to out-manoeuver Egypt’s powerful, US-backed generals.
But he did, with deftness and remarkable skill, getting younger
senior officers to gently oust the pharaonic old guard.
to reign in the armed forces and return Egypt to civilian control.
But, until this week, Morsi and his allies in the Muslim Brotherhood’s
Freedom and Justice Party were unable to oust an entrenched cadre
of Mubarak-appointed officials and henchmen in the judiciary, security
police, academia, media and the diplomatic corps.
what is known as Egypt’s "deep government," the real power
in the nation that reported directly to Mubarak’s entourage.
regime had thwarted many of Morsi’s efforts to reform the corrupt
ruling system, construct a truly democratic republic, and break
the hold of Egypt’s pampered, westernized urban elite who enjoyed
almost total political and economic power under Mubarak.
government" very closely resembles a similar Kemalist secular
ruling structure in Turkey that controlled the powerful military,
security services, courts, universities, media, big business cartels,
and Islamic religious institutions. – and was closely allied to
the US and Israel.
grip of the Turkey’s "deep government" took now PM Recep
Erdogan and his AK Party ten years of patient siege – longer than
Sultan Mehmet to capture Constantinople. Erdogan finally managed
to put the military and security forces under civilian control,
free much of the economy from the Kemalist elite, and turn Turkey
into a impressive if not perfect modern democracy – generating a
us now trying this same shock therapy for Egypt, which desperately
needs to be shaken up and modernized. His biggest problem: Egypt
can’t feed itself nor generate funds to import food. So Cairo is
forced to rely on the United States and, now, Saudi Arabia and the
UAE, for a financial lifeline.
and munitions for Egypt’s US-equipped military are kept scarce by
Washington, meaning it can maintain internal security but not fight
Israel or any other power.
the formerly cautious, plodding Morsi has staged a coup of sorts
to purge what he calls the Mubarakist "weeviles’ thwarting
reform. Could the cure be worse than the disease?
coup has scared a lot of Egyptians and done nothing to burnish the
reputation of political Islamists. While his thunderous action is
in good part understandable, he should have taken a slower, more
patient Turkish approach. His abrupt action causes his many domestic
and foreign foes to unite against him.
Morsi will indeed renounce his newly assumed powers once a democratic
parliament opens and a new constitution enacted. If he does, he
will be hailed as a second Pericles or George Washington.
Alas, as Lord
Acton so famously and wisely warned, "all power corrupts; ultimate
power corrupts absolutely."
him mail] is the author of War
at the Top of the World and the new book, American
Raj: Liberation or Domination?: Resolving the Conflict Between the
West and the Muslim World. See his
© 2012 Eric Margolis
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