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Egypt returns to the square. Square one.

Well, two days before Egyp­t’s his­toric pres­i­den­tial runoff between the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood’s Mohammed Mor­si and Mubarak’s ex-Prime Min­is­ter Ahmed Shafiq it looks like Egyp­t’s rev­o­lu­tion is back to the square. No, not mass protests in Tahrir square, although that looks like a very real pos­si­bil­i­ty soon­er or lat­er. That’s because Egyp­t’s rev­o­lu­tion is back to square one:

NY Times
Blow to Tran­si­tion as Court Dis­solves Egypt’s Par­lia­ment

Pub­lished: June 14, 2012

CAIRO — A pan­el of judges appoint­ed by Egypt’s oust­ed pres­i­dent, Hos­ni Mubarak, threw the nation’s trou­bled tran­si­tion to democ­ra­cy into grave doubt Thurs­day with rul­ings that dis­solved the pop­u­lar­ly elect­ed Par­lia­ment and allowed the top­pled government’s last prime min­is­ter to run for pres­i­dent, esca­lat­ing a strug­gle by rem­nants of the old elite to block Islamists from com­ing to pow­er.

The rul­ings by Egypt’s Supreme Con­sti­tu­tion­al Court were quick­ly con­demned as a “coup” by Islamists, lib­er­als and schol­ars. The court’s action, com­ing two days before a pres­i­den­tial runoff, set up a show­down with the Islamists who con­trolled Par­lia­ment. They said Thurs­day night that they refused to dis­solve the leg­is­la­ture and vowed to win the pres­i­den­cy despite the signs of oppo­si­tion with­in the gov­ern­ment over­see­ing the vote.

The rul­ings recalled events that have played out across the region for decades, when sec­u­lar elites have cracked down on Islamists poised for elec­toral gains, most famous­ly when the dis­so­lu­tion of Algeria’s Islamist-led Par­lia­ment start­ed a civ­il war 20 years ago.

Cit­ing a mis­ap­pli­ca­tion of rules for inde­pen­dent can­di­dates, the court sought to over­turn the first demo­c­ra­t­i­cal­ly elect­ed Par­lia­ment in more than six decades and the most sig­nif­i­cant accom­plish­ment of the Egypt­ian revolt. Many ana­lysts and activists said Thurs­day that they feared the deci­sion was a step toward re-estab­lish­ing a mil­i­tary-backed autoc­ra­cy, though it was not yet clear whether the mil­i­tary lead­er­ship was will­ing to risk a new out­break of unrest by sup­press­ing the country’s most pow­er­ful polit­i­cal forces.

The streets were most­ly qui­et on Thurs­day as orga­niz­ers digest­ed the rul­ings. Activists met to plot a response, and some groups announced plans for a major demon­stra­tion on Fri­day night.

The mil­i­tary rulers did not issue a state­ment on the court’s deci­sion. But the Web site of the state news­pa­per Al Ahram report­ed that the gen­er­als said the pres­i­den­tial runoff would still take place on sched­ule.

“From a demo­c­ra­t­ic per­spec­tive, this is the worst pos­si­ble out­come imag­in­able,” said Sha­di Hamid, research direc­tor of the Brook­ings Doha Cen­ter in Qatar. “This is an all-out pow­er grab by the mil­i­tary.”

The tim­ing of the rul­ing seems like a trans­par­ent attempt to under­mine the Islamists just two days before Mohamed Mor­si of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood is set to com­pete in the runoff against Ahmed Shafik, a for­mer air force gen­er­al and Mr. Mubarak’s last prime min­is­ter.

If the rul­ing is car­ried out, who­ev­er wins the pres­i­den­tial race would take pow­er with­out the check of a sit­ting Par­lia­ment and could exer­cise sig­nif­i­cant influ­ence over the elec­tions to form a new one. The new pres­i­dent will also take office with­out a per­ma­nent con­sti­tu­tion to define his pow­ers or duties. A 100-mem­ber con­sti­tu­tion­al assem­bly appoint­ed by Par­lia­ment and includ­ing dozens of law­mak­ers may also be dis­solved. And in any event, the rul­ing gen­er­als are expect­ed to issue their own inter­im char­ter dur­ing the draft­ing.

Elect­ing a pres­i­dent with­out either a con­sti­tu­tion or a par­lia­ment is like “elect­ing an ‘emper­or’ with more pow­er than the deposed dic­ta­tor. A trav­es­ty,” Mohamed ElBa­radei, the Nobel Prize-win­ning diplo­mat and for­mer pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, said in a com­ment online.


In the weeks before the first round of pres­i­den­tial vot­ing, the Broth­er­hood-led Par­lia­ment passed a law block­ing Mr. Shafik and oth­er top offi­cials of the Mubarak gov­ern­ment from com­pet­ing for the pres­i­den­cy. But many lib­er­al jurists said that the nar­row tar­get­ing of the law appeared ques­tion­able. An elec­toral com­mis­sion of Mubarak-appoint­ed judges set it aside. And on Thurs­day, the high court ruled it uncon­sti­tu­tion­al.


So, in a rul­ing two-days before the his­toric pres­i­den­tial runoff the Egypt­ian Mubarak-era tran­si­tion­al gov­ern­ment dis­solve the entire par­lia­ment BUT decides to pro­ceed with the pres­i­den­tial elec­tions any­ways. And the can­di­date that wins, Mor­si OR Shafiq, is expect­ed to have near dic­ta­to­r­i­al pow­ers because there will be no par­lia­ment AND no new con­sti­tu­tion.

Sur­prised? Well, you’re not alone. The lead­ers of the youth move­ment that cat­alyzed the entire rev­o­lu­tion are feel­ing sur­prised too. They’re sur­prised and under­stand­ably feel­ing a lit­tle naive that they trust­ed either the mil­i­tary OR the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood. Exas­per­a­tion appears to be the sen­ti­ment of the day in Egypt:

NY Times
Revolt Lead­ers Cite Fail­ure to Uproot Old Order in Egypt

Pub­lished: June 14, 2012

CAIRO — They top­pled a pharaoh, but now the small cir­cle of lib­er­als, left­ists and Islamists who orches­trat­ed Egypt’s rev­o­lu­tion say they real­ize they failed to uproot the net­works of pow­er that Hos­ni Mubarak nur­tured for near­ly three decades.

They were naïve, they say, strung along by the gen­er­als who seized pow­er in their name.

Many of the young lead­ers say that in those ear­ly days they were too afraid of appear­ing to grab pow­er for them­selves. Some say they were just intox­i­cat­ed by their vic­to­ry over Mr. Mubarak. “You could say we just want­ed to be hap­py,” said Asmaa Mah­fouz, anoth­er ear­ly orga­niz­er.


All now say they were suc­cess­ful­ly manip­u­lat­ed by the mil­i­tary lead­ers.

“We were duped,” Mr. Maher of April 6 recalled. “We met with the Supreme Coun­cil of the Armed Forces on Feb. 14, and they were very cute. They smiled and promised us many things and said, ‘You are our chil­dren; you did what we want­ed to do for many years!’ ” Then they offered the same smiles and vague promis­es the next week, he said, and the next month after that.

Oth­ers fault the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, the 84-year-old Islamist group, Egypt’s best-orga­nized polit­i­cal force. Before Mr. Mubarak’s ouster, the Broth­er­hood lent its full sup­port to a unit­ed front push­ing for the pres­i­den­tial can­di­da­cy of the Nobel Prize-win­ning diplo­mat Mohamed ElBa­radei, an inspi­ra­tion and men­tor to the young orga­niz­ers. Dur­ing the revolt in Tahrir Square, the Broth­er­hood became a pil­lar of the protests, its lead­ers tak­ing their cue from the youth.

But since Mr. Mubarak’s ouster, Broth­er­hood lead­ers have shown lit­tle inter­est in lis­ten­ing to the younger lead­ers or con­sult­ing with Mr. ElBa­radei. Instead, the Broth­er­hood almost imme­di­ate­ly began prepar­ing for elec­tions. With the gen­er­als, it backed a ref­er­en­dum sched­ul­ing par­lia­men­tary elec­tions before the draft­ing of a new con­sti­tu­tion.

“They betrayed us at the first cor­ner and con­tin­ue to betray us,” Ms. Moore said. The result­ing timetable killed any hope of uni­ty against the mil­i­tary among those mobi­lized by the revolt.


Yes, this has been a bad, frus­trat­ing week for Egyp­t’s nascent democ­ra­cy and it’s impor­tant to note that the week was­n’t exact­ly going well before Thurs­day’s court rul­ing. As the above arti­cle point­ed out, part of the lib­er­al youth reform­ers grow­ing list of frus­tra­tions was the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood’s and mil­i­tary’s deci­sion to sched­ule the par­lia­men­tary elec­tions before the draft­ing of a new con­sti­tu­tion. That issue of the new con­sti­tu­tion appears to be put on hold for the moment because the 100-per­son con­sti­tu­tion­al com­mit­tee was going to draw heav­i­ly from par­lia­men­tary mem­bers which is kind of dif­fi­cult now that there’s no par­lia­ment.

Still, it’s worth recall­ing that, had the court NOT dis­solved the par­lia­ment, the com­po­si­tion of the con­sti­tu­tion­al draft com­mit­tee was a key source of divi­sions between the var­i­ous move­ments. It has been a source of con­flict for months, and just last week it appeared that this issue was on track to being resolved after a rather unchar­ac­ter­is­tic con­ces­sion by the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood to reserve half the seats on the com­mit­tee for sec­u­lar rep­re­sen­ta­tives. That’s right, the same par­ty that has been break­ing promise after promise in a seem­ing­ly end­less pow­er grab was actu­al­ly con­ced­ing pow­er to dom­i­nate the draft­ing of Egyp­t’s new con­sti­tu­tion. Too good to be true? Yep:

Egypt’s lib­er­als walk out of con­sti­tu­tion meet­ing
June 10, 2012|Aya Batrawy, Asso­ci­at­ed Press

Egypt­ian lib­er­als walked out of a meet­ing Sun­day to select mem­bers of a pan­el to write the country’s new con­sti­tu­tion, charg­ing that Islamists were try­ing to take seats allo­cat­ed for sec­u­lar par­ties.

The walk­out could throw the writ­ing of the con­sti­tu­tion, which would lay out the pow­ers of the pres­i­den­cy, into fur­ther dis­ar­ray at a time when uncer­tain­ties mar both the course of the pres­i­den­tial runoff elec­tion on June 16–17 and the legal­i­ty of par­lia­ment.

The dis­pute was part of the con­tin­u­ous tur­moil Egypt has under­gone since last year’s over­throw of long­time auto­crat­ic leader Hos­ni Mubarak. Pro­test­ers have been killed in bat­tles with the mil­i­tary, an Islamist-major­i­ty par­lia­ment elect­ed last year has upset lib­er­als con­cerned about Egypt’s civ­il state and the first round of pres­i­den­tial elec­tions pushed two of the most divi­sive can­di­dates into the runoff.

Sunday’s dis­pute fol­lowed a walk­out ear­li­er this year by lib­er­als, joined by a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Egypt’s pre­mier Islam­ic insti­tu­tion, Al-Azhar, in protest at the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood and ultra­con­ser­v­a­tive Salafis tak­ing most of the seats dur­ing the first attempt to select the pan­el writ­ing a new con­sti­tu­tion.

That pan­el was dis­solved in April after the pull­out.

It appeared the prob­lem had been solved a few days ago when the country’s rul­ing gen­er­als and 22 par­ties agreed that Islamists would have just half of the seats on the 100-mem­ber pan­el to draft the new con­sti­tu­tion.

Law­mak­er Emad Gad of the lib­er­al Free Egyp­tians Par­ty said his group and oth­ers met Sun­day to dis­cuss their nom­i­nees for Tuesday’s pan­el selec­tion when the dis­pute sur­faced. The pow­er­ful Broth­er­hood and Salafi Nour Par­ty, who togeth­er won 70 per­cent of the seats in par­lia­ment, were not present when the lib­er­als walked out.

“We were talk­ing about the divi­sion of seats between sec­u­lar and Islamists as 50–50. Then we were sur­prised to find that all 50 were just for the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood and Salafis,” he told The Asso­ci­at­ed Press.

Gad said the Broth­er­hood and ultra­con­ser­v­a­tive Salafis want­ed 50 of the 100 seats on the pan­el for their mem­bers only and to push oth­er Islamists into slots meant for sec­u­lar par­ties and civ­il soci­ety.

He said that the Islamist Wasat Par­ty and the more rad­i­cal Gamaa Islamiya, who were present in Sunday’s meet­ing, were pro­mot­ing their nom­i­nees for seats meant for sec­u­lars.

If the Broth­er­hood and Salafis take 50 seats for them­selves, and 21 seats go to gov­ern­ment insti­tu­tions, it would leave just 11 seats for the remain­ing par­ties in par­lia­ment and 18 seats for “the rest of Egypt”, Gad said.

He said he under­stood the agree­ment reached on Thurs­day to mean that first there would be 21 seats allo­cat­ed for insti­tu­tions like the Cop­tic Church, Al-Azhar mosque, the mil­i­tary and min­istries. He said that half of the remain­ing 79 seats were then sup­posed to go to Islamists of all affil­i­a­tions.

“We hold the rul­ing mil­i­tary coun­cil respon­si­ble for not being clear enough,” Gad said. “If they want to repeat what hap­pened last time, then they can move head on Tues­day with select­ing the pan­el.”


Shafiq’s can­di­da­cy itself could be decid­ed Thurs­day when the country’s Con­sti­tu­tion­al Court may rule on the legal­i­ty of a law aimed at dis­qual­i­fy­ing him from the pres­i­den­tial race for serv­ing as Mubarak’s pre­mier.

Egyp­tians also await the court deci­sion that day on a rul­ing by a low­er court that found laws gov­ern­ing par­lia­men­tary elec­tions were ille­gal. If the rul­ing is upheld, par­lia­ment could be dis­solved.

Yes, as should be expect­ed by now, the MB promised seats to the sec­u­lar groups and then appeared to allo­cate those seats to the ultra-crazy MB-off­shoot Gamaa Islamiya. There prob­a­bly was­n’t too much cel­e­brat­ing in Egyp­t’s tourism sec­tor upon hear­ing that news.

So did the walk­out by the lib­er­al reform­ers thwart the sched­uled cre­ation of the Islamist-dom­i­nat­ed 100-per­son con­sti­tu­tion­al com­mit­tee on Tues­day? Ummm....:

Post­ed on Tues­day, 06.12.12
New pan­el set to draft Egypt’s con­sti­tu­tion 4 days before vote for pres­i­dent

CAIRO — Egypt’s Par­lia­ment on Tues­day select­ed a 100-mem­ber assem­bly to write a new con­sti­tu­tion for the coun­try, head­ing off a threat from the rul­ing Supreme Coun­cil of the Armed Forces that it would impose its own char­ter if Par­lia­ment failed to act.

The selec­tion of the assem­bly came just four days before Egyp­tians go to the polls to select a new pres­i­dent amid height­ened con­cerns about the influ­ence of Islamists in the gov­ern­ment. The pres­i­den­tial runoff pits Mohammed Mor­si, a mem­ber of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, against Ahmed Shafik, a for­mer air force gen­er­al who was the last prime min­is­ter appoint­ed by top­pled Pres­i­dent Hos­ni Mubarak.

Many of Morsi’s oppo­nents have accused the Broth­er­hood, which dom­i­nates Par­lia­ment, of try­ing to con­trol all branch­es of Egypt’s gov­ern­ment, includ­ing the writ­ing of the con­sti­tu­tion. A pre­vi­ous assem­bly named to write the char­ter was dom­i­nat­ed by Islamists, who held 70 per­cent of the seats, and was dis­solved after lib­er­al politi­cians refused to take part.

The new assem­bly select­ed Tues­day seemed designed to appeal to a broad­er spec­trum of vot­ers. Among those appoint­ed were rep­re­sen­ta­tives of eight polit­i­cal par­ties, 28 legal and con­sti­tu­tion­al experts, sev­en women, 10 Mus­lim schol­ars, eight Cop­tic Chris­tians, sev­en union rep­re­sen­ta­tives and sev­en mem­bers with ties to so-called rev­o­lu­tion­ary par­ties or vic­tims of vio­lence dur­ing the anti-Mubarak upris­ing last year.

But Islamists still had a major pres­ence, pro­vok­ing com­plaints from 10 polit­i­cal par­ties that announced they’d boy­cott the panel’s work.

Among the panel’s mem­bers were Emad Abdel­ghafor, the head of the Nour Par­ty, which draws its sup­port from fol­low­ers of con­ser­v­a­tive Salafi Islam; Essam el Erian, the sec­re­tary-gen­er­al of the Mus­lim Brotherhood’s Free­dom and Jus­tice Par­ty; and Sheikh Yass­er Burha­mi, the sec­re­tary-gen­er­al of Egypt’s Salafi Call Move­ment.

“All this effort was wast­ed because the polit­i­cal Islam cur­rent insists on con­trol­ling the assem­bly and pre­fer­ring their nar­row per­son­al inter­est to that of the pub­lic,” the 10 par­ties said in a state­ment, refer­ring to the roles in the assem­bly of the Free­dom and Jus­tice Par­ty and the Nour Par­ty.

Also named to the pan­el was Gen. Mam­douh Shahin, a mem­ber of the Supreme Coun­cil of the Armed Forces.


Accord­ing to the inter­im con­sti­tu­tion, the assem­bly must draft a new char­ter in six months, a dead­line that legal schol­ars said was unrea­son­able. Rush­ing the process, they warn, will result in an incom­plete doc­u­ment that will lead to more insta­bil­i­ty.

“This is absolute rub­bish,” Hos­sam Issa, a law pro­fes­sor at Ain Shams Uni­ver­si­ty in Cairo, said about the time­line.

With the major­i­ty of the assem­bly mem­bers belong­ing to the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, some ana­lysts pre­dict­ed that a Mor­si vic­to­ry would lead to greater pow­ers for the pres­i­dent. A Shafik vic­to­ry would lead to few pow­ers, said Fou­da Rafat, a law pro­fes­sor at Cairo Uni­ver­si­ty.

The biggest mis­take of the con­sti­tu­tion-writ­ing process already has hap­pened, how­ev­er, Rafat said.

“They chose to hold the elec­tion before writ­ing the con­sti­tu­tion. They put, as you Amer­i­cans say, the cart before horse.”

So before the MB-dom­i­nat­ed par­lia­ment was dis­solved, observers were spec­u­lat­ing that a win by the MB in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion would result in greater pres­i­den­tial con­sti­tu­tion­al pow­ers while a win by Shafiq will lead the con­sti­tu­tion­al pan­el to place more lim­its on those pow­ers. And now, with no par­lia­ment and no con­sti­tu­tion­al com­mit­tee, it does­n’t mat­ter who wins: Egypt is poten­tial­ly elect­ing a dic­ta­tor this week­end.

What a week.


13 comments for “Egypt returns to the square. Square one.”

  1. In in wake of a his­toric runoff where the scope of pow­ers of the new­ly elect­ed pres­i­dent is thrown into ques­tion fol­low­ing the dis­so­lu­tion of the par­lia­ment and the con­sti­tu­tion­al com­mit­tee, one might won­der just who’s going to be in charge in Egypt and how much pow­er are they going to have in the inter­im while the new path for­ward gets laid down. The Egypt­ian mil­i­tary just answered that ques­tion. Not much:

    Wash­ing­ton Post
    Egypt mil­i­tary issues decree giv­ing armed forces sweep­ing pow­ers as ear­ly results of pres­i­den­tial vote trick­le in

    By Leila Fadel and Ernesto Lon­doño, Updat­ed: Sun­day, June 17, 4:41 PM

    CAIRO — Short­ly after polls in Egypt’s land­mark pres­i­den­tial vote closed Sun­day night, Egypt’s mil­i­tary lead­ers issued a con­sti­tu­tion­al decree that gave the armed forces vast pow­ers and appeared to give the pres­i­den­cy a sub­servient role.

    The dec­la­ra­tion, pub­lished in the offi­cial state gazette, estab­lish­es that the pres­i­dent will have no con­trol over the military’s bud­get or lead­er­ship and will not be autho­rized to declare war with­out the con­sent of the Supreme Coun­cil of the Armed Forces.

    The doc­u­ment said the mil­i­tary would soon appoint a body to draft a new con­sti­tu­tion, which would be put to a pub­lic ref­er­en­dum with­in three months. Once a new char­ter is in place, an elec­tion will be held to chose a par­lia­ment that will replace the Islamist-dom­i­nat­ed one dis­solved Thurs­day by the country’s top court.


    You have to won­der just how dif­fer­ent the reor­ga­ni­za­tion of civ­il soci­ety and gov­ern­ment will be if we see a repeat of the show­down in Tahrir Square between the pub­lic and the mil­i­tary.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 17, 2012, 2:41 pm
  2. There are some past pre­dic­tions at the end of this arti­cle that are top­i­cal­ly trou­bling:

    Al Ara­biya
    Egypt could plunge into Alge­ria like sce­nario of bloody vio­lence: Alger­ian Islamists

    Sun­day, 17 June 2012

    By Ramadan Belam­ry

    Egypt could plunge into an “Alge­ria like sce­nario” of bloody vio­lence after the rul­ing mil­i­tary coun­cil exe­cut­ed a court order to dis­solve the country’s elect­ed par­lia­ment, Alger­ian Islamist lead­ers warned on Sun­day.

    Alge­ria expe­ri­enced a decade-long civ­il war which wit­nessed excep­tion­al sav­agery and bloody vio­lence when the mil­i­tary inter­vened in 1992 to unseat Pres­i­dent Chadli Bend­je­did and can­cel the sec­ond round of an elec­tion after the Islam­ic Sal­va­tion Front (FIS) won the first round.

    For­mer FIS founder el-Hache­mi Sah­nouni described events in Egypt in the past few days “as an explic­it coup against the people’s will, and it would only bring about evil regard­less of what the mil­i­tary coun­cil says.”

    Sah­nouni told Al Ara­biya that he was “wor­ried that the biggest Arab coun­try might plunge into vio­lence sim­i­lar to what occurred in Alge­ria.”

    “If this hap­pens, it will be a cat­a­stro­phe not only for Egypt but for all of the Arab coun­tries.”

    Sah­nouni added that the dis­so­lu­tion of Egypt’s Islamist-dom­i­nat­ed par­lia­ment was “sim­i­lar to what hap­pened in Alge­ria in 1991.”


    Before it announced run­ning for pres­i­den­tial elec­tions, Egypt’s Mus­lim Broth­er­hood move­ment warned in March 2012 that the coun­try could expe­ri­ence an Alger­ian like sce­nario if “oth­er forces” tried to “block the Islam­ic trend.”

    “If the Islam­ic trend tries to become dom­i­nant in posi­tions of author­i­ty, we could encounter big prob­lems,” said Mohamed el-Belt­a­gi, Broth­er­hood leader, accord­ing to Egypt Inde­pen­dent.
    “If the oth­er forces strive to block or cen­sor the Islam­ic trend we will encounter a big­ger prob­lem,” he added.

    (Trans­lat­ed from Ara­bic by Mustapha Ajbaili)

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 19, 2012, 10:59 pm
  3. It’s hard to know what exact­ly to expect upon read­ing this update on Egyp­t’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, but three words come to mind:

    Duck and cov­er:

    Report: Shafik to be named Egypt­ian pres­i­dent
    By the CNN Wire Staff
    updat­ed 1:28 PM EDT, Fri June 22, 2012

    Cairo (CNN) — Ahmed Shafik, the last prime min­is­ter under for­mer Egypt­ian leader Hos­ni Mubarak, will be named the coun­try’s new pres­i­dent on Sun­day, the semi-offi­cial Ahram Online news site report­ed Fri­day, cit­ing sev­er­al unnamed gov­ern­ment sources.

    There’s been no offi­cial con­fir­ma­tion from the lead­er­ship in Cairo as the coun­try anx­ious­ly await­ed the results of last week’s run-off elec­tion between Shafik and Mus­lim Broth­er­hood can­di­date Mohamed Mor­si, both of whom have claimed they’ve won the elec­tion.

    Shafik will be declared vic­tor with 50.7% of the vote, the news out­let said.

    Sources at the coun­try’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion com­mis­sion would not con­firm claims of Shafik’s vic­to­ry. Thou­sands gath­ered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the cen­ter of last year’s rev­o­lu­tion that led to the top­pling of Mubarak, as the news report cir­cu­lat­ed.

    Ear­li­er Fri­day, Egyp­t’s mil­i­tary rulers said they won’t reverse their wide­ly deplored con­sti­tu­tion­al and judi­cial changes and warned politi­cians to keep a lid on elec­tion-relat­ed unrest.

    “We will face any­one who will pose a chal­lenge to the pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tors with an iron fist,” the Supreme Coun­cil of the Armed Forces said.

    Mil­i­tary rulers dis­solved the low­er house of par­lia­ment last week, extend­ing their pow­er and spark­ing accu­sa­tions of a coup.


    Egyp­t’s Pres­i­den­tial Elec­tion Com­mis­sion has delayed, from Thurs­day until a date to be announced, the release of the results of the elec­tions. An elec­toral offi­cial said author­i­ties are review­ing around 400 elec­toral vio­la­tion reports sub­mit­ted by the two can­di­dates.

    Egypt­ian reform leader Mohamed ElBa­radei — the for­mer head of U.N. Inter­na­tion­al Atom­ic Ener­gy Agency and the win­ner of a Nobel Peace Prize — said he’s been in close con­tact with the mil­i­tary coun­cil and the intel­li­gence ser­vices on the one hand, and Mor­si on the oth­er, and has urged them to avoid a show­down.

    He said if Shafik, seen as a can­di­date of the pro-Mubarak old guard, is declared the win­ner “we are in for a lot of insta­bil­i­ty and vio­lence ... a major upris­ing.” He isn’t as wor­ried about a Mor­si vic­to­ry because Shafik sup­port­ers are unlike­ly to take their anger to the streets, he said.

    He described the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion as “a total, com­plete 100 per­cent mess.”

    Mus­lim Broth­er­hood law­mak­ers met with polit­i­cal lead­ers to dis­cuss plans for a coali­tion to fight what they believe is a pow­er grab by the mil­i­tary, accord­ing to the Face­book page of its Free­dom and Jus­tice Par­ty.

    “We will NOT accept this coup against democ­ra­cy,” it said, adding that “togeth­er, we will march on to com­plete the rev­o­lu­tion.”


    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 22, 2012, 10:28 am
  4. It’s offi­cial. Mor­si takes it:

    NY Times
    For Islamists in Egypt, Mor­si Vic­to­ry Is a Sym­bol­ic Win

    Pub­lished: June 24, 2012

    CAIRO — Egypt’s mil­i­tary rulers on Sun­day offi­cial­ly rec­og­nized Mohamed Mor­si of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood as the win­ner of Egypt’s first com­pet­i­tive pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, hand­ing the Islamists both a sym­bol­ic tri­umph and a potent weapon in their strug­gle for pow­er against the country’s senior gen­er­als.

    Mr. Mor­si, 60, an Amer­i­can-trained engi­neer and for­mer law­mak­er, is the first Islamist elect­ed as head of an Arab state. But 16 months after the mil­i­tary took over at the ouster of Pres­i­dent Hos­ni Mubarak, Mr. Morsi’s vic­to­ry is an ambigu­ous mile­stone in Egypt’s promised tran­si­tion to democ­ra­cy.

    After a week of doubt, delays and fears of a coup since a pub­lic bal­lot count showed Mr. Mor­si ahead, the gen­er­als have proven a mea­sure of respect for at least some core ele­ment elec­toral democ­ra­cy — they have accept­ed a polit­i­cal oppo­nent over their ally, for­mer Gen­er­al Ahmed Shafik, after a vote that inter­na­tion­al mon­i­tors called cred­i­ble.

    But Mr. Morsi’s recog­ni­tion as pres­i­dent does lit­tle to resolve the larg­er stand­off between the gen­er­als and the Broth­er­hood over the insti­tu­tions of gov­ern­ment and the future con­sti­tu­tion. With just two weeks to go until their promised exit from pow­er by June 30, the gen­er­als instead shut down the demo­c­ra­t­i­cal­ly elect­ed and Islamist-led Par­lia­ment; took over its pow­ers to make laws and set bud­gets; decreed an inter­im con­sti­tu­tion strip­ping the new pres­i­dent of most of his pow­er; and re-imposed mar­tial law by autho­riz­ing sol­diers to arrest civil­ians. And the gen­er­al gave them­selves an effec­tive veto over pro­vi­sions of a planned per­ma­nent con­sti­tu­tion as well.


    After 84 years as an often out­lawed secret soci­ety strug­gling in the pris­ons and shad­ows of mon­archs and dic­ta­tors, the Broth­er­hood is now clos­er than ever to its stat­ed goal of build­ing an Islamist democ­ra­cy in Egypt. “In my dreams I want­ed this to hap­pen, but it is unbe­liev­able,” said Hudai­da Has­san, a 20-year-old from Menoufiya.

    Even in a vic­to­ri­ous moment, how­ev­er, the Brotherhood’s lead­er­ship acknowl­edged that the strug­gle was far from over: lead­ers imme­di­ate­ly pledged to con­tin­ue the sit-in, fight­ing on in the courts and in the streets to restore the Par­lia­ment. And in his first state­ment as pres­i­dent-elect, Mr. Mor­si vowed to swear the oath of office before the seat­ed Par­lia­ment and not before the Supreme Con­sti­tu­tion­al Court as the gen­er­als had decreed.

    Field Mar­shall Mohamed Hus­sein Tanta­wi, the chair­man of the mil­i­tary coun­cil, con­grat­u­lat­ed Mr. Mor­si. The Brotherhood’s polit­i­cal arm said on its Web site that the offi­cial pres­i­den­tial guard who pre­vi­ous­ly pro­tect­ed Mr. Mubarak had arrived at Mr. Morsi’s home to begin pro­tect­ing him. It was a stark con­trast from the days less than two years ago when the arrival of armed offi­cers at the home of a Broth­er­hood leader inevitably meant a trip to one of Mr. Mubarak’s jails.

    Ful­fill­ing a cam­paign pledge to rep­re­sent all Egyp­tians, Mr. Mor­si resigned from the Broth­er­hood and its polit­i­cal arm, the Free­dom and Jus­tice Par­ty. State media report­ed Sun­day morn­ing that the prime min­is­ter and cab­i­net would resign imme­di­ate­ly, mak­ing way for Mr. Mor­si to appoint his own team. As the Broth­er­hood has reached out to rebuild alliances with lib­er­al and oth­er sec­u­lar activists for its con­test with the gen­er­als, Mr. Mor­si has pledged to name a prime min­is­ter and oth­er top offi­cials from out­side the Broth­er­hood as part of a uni­ty gov­ern­ment.

    At the same time, how­ev­er, Mr. Mor­si has always cam­paigned not as an indi­vid­ual with a vision of his own but rather as an execu­tor of the Brotherhood’s plat­form. He was the group’s sec­ond choice nom­i­nee, put for­ward after the dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion of the group’s lead strate­gist and most influ­en­tial leader, Khairat el-Shater, and Mr. Mor­si has vowed to car­ry out the pro­gram Mr. Shater has spent more than a year devis­ing to reform and remake Egypt’s gov­ern­ment min­istries. Mr. Mor­si and Mr. Shater have nev­er effec­tive­ly dis­pel accu­sa­tions that Mr. Shater would wield the true pow­er in a Mor­si gov­ern­ment.

    Even after the two-month pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, Mr. Mor­si remains an unfa­mil­iar fig­ure to most Egyp­tians. He earned a doc­tor­al degree in mate­ri­als engi­neer­ing at the Uni­ver­si­ty of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia in 1982 — putting him in the Unit­ed States for the tumul­tuous years after Islamists assas­si­nat­ed Pres­i­dent Anwar Sadat and Pres­i­dent Muabrak cracked down on the Broth­er­hood.

    Those who knew him in Los Ange­les say Mr. Mor­si nev­er appeared notably polit­i­cal or reli­gious. But he returned to teach at Zagazig Uni­ver­si­ty in the Nile Delta, where he became a leader in the Broth­er­hood and even­tu­al­ly won of its first mem­bers of the Mubarak-dom­i­nat­ed Par­lia­ment.

    He was picked by high­er-ups to lead the Brotherhood’s small par­lia­men­tary bloc, which then includ­ing just 18 mem­bers out of more than 500 law­mak­ers. He thus played a key role in the group’s first exper­i­ment in mul­ti­par­ty elec­toral democ­ra­cy and coali­tion build­ing. But in sub­se­quent years, as he was ele­vat­ed to the Brotherhood’s gov­ern­ing board, he gained the rep­u­ta­tion as an inter­nal enforcer, known for dis­cour­ag­ing voic­es of dis­sent.

    When the Broth­er­hood adopt­ed a hypo­thet­i­cal draft par­ty plat­form in 2007 that cit­ed Islam­ic tenets as requir­ing that nei­ther a women nor a non-Mus­lim should be eli­gi­ble to be Egypt’s pres­i­dent, Mr. Mor­si was a chief defend­er of those planks, inter­nal­ly and exter­nal­ly.

    Since Mr. Mubarak’s ouster, the Broth­er­hood has jet­ti­soned those posi­tions from its plat­form. But dur­ing the cam­paign, Mr. Mor­si said that as a per­son­al mat­ter he still believed the pres­i­den­cy should go only to a male Mus­lim.


    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 24, 2012, 12:52 pm
  5. If you thought this roller coast­er ride was com­ing to an end...you would be wrong. Loop-d-loops lie ahead:

    Egyp­t’s leg­is­la­ture con­venes despite court rul­ing

    CAIRO (AP) — Egyp­t’s Islamist-dom­i­nat­ed par­lia­ment opened a new front in the coun­try’s lead­er­ship show­downs Tues­day by meet­ing in defi­ance of orders that dis­band­ed the cham­ber and brought Pres­i­dent Mohammed Mor­si in con­flict with both the pow­er­ful mil­i­tary and the high­est court.

    The ses­sion was brief — last­ing just five min­utes — and sug­gest­ed that law­mak­ers sought more of a sym­bol­ic stance rather than a full-scale back­lash against rul­ings that inval­i­dat­ed the cham­ber over appar­ent irreg­u­lar­i­ties in Egyp­t’s first elec­tions since the fall of Hos­ni Mubarak 17 months ago.

    But it fur­ther nudged Egypt deep­er into a poten­tial pow­er strug­gle between Mor­si and mil­i­tary chiefs, who have vowed to uphold the judi­cial rul­ing that led to par­lia­ment being dis­solved last month.

    For the moment, all sides appear to be mov­ing with some cau­tion in acknowl­edg­ment of Egyp­t’s volatile back­drop: The mil­i­tary with the pow­er to clamp down on dis­sent but with­out wide­spread sup­port on the streets where Mor­si’s Mus­lim Broth­er­hood is strong.

    Secu­ri­ty forces made no attempt to block law­mak­ers as they arrived at the par­lia­ment build­ing in cen­tral Cairo.

    In the back­ground, mean­while, a spe­cial pan­el is work­ing on Egyp­t’s post-Mubarak con­sti­tu­tion and an all-out bat­tle between the ris­ing Broth­er­hood and the coun­try’s old guard estab­lish­ment could send the entire process into a tail­spin.

    The cri­sis atmos­phere has grown steadi­ly since Mor­si issued an order Sun­day to recon­vene the 508-seat leg­is­la­ture. His exec­u­tive order said it was revok­ing the mil­i­tary’s June 15 order to dis­band the cham­ber based on the pre­vi­ous rul­ing by the Supreme Con­sti­tu­tion­al Court.

    The court said a third of the cham­ber’s mem­bers were elect­ed ille­gal­ly by allow­ing can­di­dates from polit­i­cal par­ties to con­test seats set aside for inde­pen­dent can­di­dates. The court was expect­ed to rule lat­er Tues­day on three cas­es ques­tion­ing the legal­i­ty of the pres­i­den­t’s order. A low­er court also look­ing into com­plaints against Mor­si’s order post­poned its deci­sion until July 17.

    Mor­si’s pres­i­den­tial decree also called for new par­lia­men­tary elec­tions after a new con­sti­tu­tion is adopt­ed, which is not expect­ed before the end of the year. In effect, it puts the cur­rent par­lia­ment in a sort of care­tak­er sta­tus — rais­ing fur­ther spec­u­la­tion that Mor­si could be buy­ing time with the cur­rent defi­ance.

    The dis­pute over the fate of par­lia­ment has divid­ed the nation just as Egyp­tians hoped for a sem­blance of sta­bil­i­ty after the tumult since the Arab Spring ouster of Mubarak. Egypt has seen a dra­mat­ic surge in crime, dead­ly street protests, a fal­ter­ing econ­o­my and seem­ing­ly non-stop strikes, sit-ins and demon­stra­tions.


    Lots of loop-d-loops.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 10, 2012, 7:55 am
  6. A ‘civil­ian counter-coup’ coor­di­nat­ed with an inter­nal putsch. That sounds like a done deal:

    Egypt pres­i­dent sweeps out army rulers

    By Edmund Blair

    CAIRO | Mon Aug 13, 2012 11:00am EDT

    (Reuters) — Egypt­ian Pres­i­dent Mohamed Mur­si has dri­ven back the biggest chal­lenge to civil­ian rule by dis­miss­ing top gen­er­als and tear­ing up their legal attempt to curb his pow­er in a bold bid to end 60 years of mil­i­tary lead­er­ship.

    Tak­ing the coun­try by sur­prise, Mur­si pushed Field Mar­shal Hus­sein Tanta­wi into retire­ment. The 76-year-old fig­ure­head of the old order, he took charge of the biggest Arab nation when Hos­ni Mubarak fell last year and remained head of its pow­er­ful, ad hoc mil­i­tary coun­cil after the Islamist was elect­ed in June.

    The armed forces, which had sup­plied Egyp­t’s pres­i­dents for six decades after oust­ing the monar­chy, have shown no sign of chal­leng­ing the move announced late on Sun­day, though a senior judge did speak up on Mon­day to ques­tion Mur­si’s right to act.

    Low­er-rank­ing gen­er­als and oth­er offi­cers may, how­ev­er, sup­port a change that shifts pow­er in the mil­i­tary to a new gen­er­a­tion. One ana­lyst said Mur­si mount­ed a “civil­ian counter-coup” coor­di­nat­ed with an inter­nal putsch in the armed forces.

    State media cit­ed a mil­i­tary source dis­miss­ing talk of any “neg­a­tive reac­tions” by the gen­er­als to a deci­sion which, giv­en their ear­li­er dis­so­lu­tion of par­lia­ment, now hands Mur­si what lib­er­al crit­ic Mohamed ElBa­radei described as “impe­r­i­al pow­ers”.

    Mur­si and his long-sup­pressed Mus­lim Broth­er­hood had been expect­ed to roll back the influ­ence of the army, a close ally of Wash­ing­ton and recip­i­ent of $1.3 bil­lion in annu­al U.S. mil­i­tary aid; but many had pre­dict­ed a process that would take years of del­i­cate diplo­ma­cy to avoid spark­ing a mil­i­tary back­lash.

    Instead, just six weeks after he was sworn into office and seem­ing­ly tak­ing advan­tage of a mil­i­tary deba­cle on the Sinai bor­der that embar­rassed the army, Mur­si announced sweep­ing changes in the high com­mand and reshaped Egyp­t’s pol­i­tics.

    “Mur­si set­tles the strug­gle for pow­er,” said a head­line in the state-owned Al-Akhbar dai­ly, a news­pa­per that is tra­di­tion­al­ly a mouth­piece for the army-backed estab­lish­ment.

    “Mur­si ends the polit­i­cal role for the armed forces,” wrote the inde­pen­dent Al-Mas­ry Al-Youm. Anoth­er, Tahrir, called it the “pres­i­den­t’s rev­o­lu­tion against the mil­i­tary”.


    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 13, 2012, 1:34 pm
  7. Well that did­n’t take long:

    Egypt’s Islamist pres­i­dent now has pow­ers that rival author­i­tar­i­an pre­de­ces­sor Mubarak

    By Asso­ci­at­ed Press, Updat­ed: Tues­day, August 14, 3:34 PM

    CAIRO — Egypt’s Islamist pres­i­dent has giv­en him­self the right to leg­is­late and con­trol over the draft­ing of a new con­sti­tu­tion. He has installed at the top of the pow­er­ful mil­i­tary a defense min­is­ter like­ly to be behold­en to him.

    Under Mohammed Morsi’s author­i­ty, offi­cials have moved to silence influ­en­tial crit­ics in the media. And though a civil­ian, he declared him­self in charge of mil­i­tary oper­a­tions against mil­i­tants in the Sinai penin­su­la.

    Over the week­end, Mor­si ordered the retire­ment of the defense min­is­ter and chief of staff and reclaimed key pow­ers the mil­i­tary seized from him days before he took office on June 30. With that, Egypt’s first freely elect­ed pres­i­dent amassed in his own hands pow­ers that rival those of his oust­ed author­i­tar­i­an pre­de­ces­sor, Hos­ni Mubarak.

    If left unchecked, there are fears Mor­si and his fun­da­men­tal­ist group, the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, could turn the clock back on the country’s tumul­tuous shift to demo­c­ra­t­ic rule and pur­sue their goal of some­day turn­ing the most pop­u­lous Arab nation into an Islam­ic state.

    The Broth­er­hood already won both par­lia­men­tary and pres­i­den­tial elec­tions after the upris­ing last year that forced Mubarak out. The ques­tion now is whether there is any insti­tu­tion in the coun­try that can check the pow­er of Mor­si and the Broth­er­hood and stop them from tak­ing over the nation’s insti­tu­tions and con­sol­i­dat­ing their grip.

    “Are we look­ing at a pres­i­dent deter­mined to dis­man­tle the machine of tyran­ny ... or one who is retool­ing the machine of tyran­ny to serve his inter­ests, remov­ing the military’s hold on the state so he can lay the foun­da­tions for the author­i­ty of the Broth­er­hood?” promi­nent rights activist and best-sell­ing nov­el­ist Alaa al-Aswani wrote in an arti­cle pub­lished Tues­day in an inde­pen­dent dai­ly.

    “He must cor­rect these mis­takes and assure us through actions that he is a pres­i­dent of all Egyp­tians,” wrote the sec­u­lar al-Aswani before warn­ing that Egyp­tians will nev­er allow Mor­si to turn Egypt into a “Broth­er­hood state.”

    Nobel Peace Prize lau­re­ate Mohamed ElBa­radei, the country’s top reform leader, issued a sim­i­lar warn­ing on Mon­day. After Mor­si stripped the mil­i­tary of leg­isla­tive author­i­ty, and in the absence of par­lia­ment, he cau­tioned that the pres­i­dent holds “impe­r­i­al pow­ers.”


    Now Mor­si is in effect both the exec­u­tive and leg­isla­tive branch­es com­bined. And his back­ers are show­ing some tell-tale signs of wield­ing pow­er unchecked.

    Last week, Broth­er­hood mem­bers of parliament’s upper house named 50 new edi­tors of state-owned pub­li­ca­tions, many of them known to be sym­pa­thet­ic to the group. The move tight­ened the Brotherhood’s stran­gle­hold on the media after one of its mem­bers took over the Infor­ma­tion Min­istry in a new­ly appoint­ed Cab­i­net backed by the group and led by a devout Mus­lim.

    Mor­si and the Broth­er­hood remained silent when a mob of sup­port­ers attacked a media com­plex in a Cairo sub­urb, smash­ing offices and cars to pun­ish crit­ics of the pres­i­dent. Sup­port­ers also intim­i­date and some­times scuf­fle with pro­test­ers out­side the pres­i­den­tial palace.

    And though he is a civil­ian, the pres­i­dent declared him­self to be run­ning mil­i­tary oper­a­tions against rad­i­cal Mus­lims in Sinai after sus­pect­ed mil­i­tants killed 16 Egypt­ian sol­diers on the bor­der with Israel on Aug. 5.

    Mor­si, accord­ing to insid­ers, is expect­ed to press ahead with efforts to expand the Brotherhood’s con­trol.


    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 14, 2012, 2:29 pm
  8. Just a quick update...Mor­si has now acquired “super pow­ers”:

    Egypt pres­i­dent names main­ly Islamist advis­er team

    By MAGGIE MICHAEL, Asso­ci­at­ed Press – 22 hours ago

    CAIRO (AP) — Egyp­t’s Islamist pres­i­dent Mohammed Mor­si on Mon­day named a team of 21 advis­ers and aides that includes three women and two Chris­tians and a large num­ber of Islamist-lean­ing fig­ures, back­ing off cam­paign promis­es to appoint a Chris­t­ian and a woman as vice pres­i­dents.

    The move is the lat­est by Mor­si, a long­time mem­ber of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood who was inau­gu­rat­ed in late June, to estab­lish his author­i­ty and break with the era of oust­ed Pres­i­dent Hos­ni Mubarak by form­ing his own lead­er­ship.

    Mor­si’s office has sought to depict him as inde­pen­dent of the Broth­er­hood and as a leader who wants to bring a wider polit­i­cal spec­trum behind him, includ­ing lib­er­als — but the Broth­er­hood still holds the pre­pon­der­ance of pow­er in his admin­is­tra­tion.

    In midst of a fierce pres­i­den­tial elec­tion cam­paign ear­li­er this year, Mor­si sought to broad­en his sup­port and allay fears of Broth­er­hood dom­i­nance by promis­ing to appoint a youth, a woman and a Chris­t­ian to vice pres­i­dent posts. The promise brought an out­cry from ultra­con­ser­v­a­tive Islamists known as Salafis who said they would not accept a Chris­t­ian or woman vice pres­i­dent, since they say nei­ther is allowed to serve as head of state.

    Since Mor­si’s inau­gu­ra­tion, some Broth­er­hood offi­cials have con­tend­ed he was forced into the promis­es, sig­nal­ing that he would like­ly back down. Ear­li­er this month, Mor­si appoint­ed a senior judge, Mah­moud Mek­ki, as vice pres­i­dent. When asked, Mor­si’s spokesman Yass­er Ali told reporters that there will be only one vice pres­i­dent for the time being.

    Instead, Ali on Mon­day announced the for­ma­tion of Mor­si’s “pres­i­den­tial team,” which includes four senior aides and a 17-mem­ber coun­cil of advis­ers, which includes sev­en fig­ures seen as polit­i­cal lib­er­als and 10 who have Islamist lean­ings of var­i­ous degrees.

    The rolling back of the promis­es reflects Mor­si’s grow­ing con­fi­dence as a pres­i­dent who holds “super pow­ers” exceed­ing those of his pre­de­ces­sors, said Nabil Abdel-Fatah, a schol­ar with Al Ahram Cen­ter for Polit­i­cal and Strate­gic Stud­ies. Mor­si holds both exec­u­tive pow­er and leg­isla­tive author­i­ty after he side­lined the top mil­i­tary gen­er­als who ruled Egypt after Mubarak’s ouster on Feb. 11. 2011. The gen­er­als had dis­solved par­lia­ment and tak­en on leg­isla­tive pow­ers, so when they were side­lined, Mor­si seized the pow­er to make laws — a pow­er he has used once so far.

    “The announce­ment of the new team has noth­ing to do with the promis­es Mor­si made before,” said Abdel-Fatah. “Those chose will pose no chal­lenge to the pres­i­dent ... this is only for cos­met­ic pur­pos­es.”

    Abdel-Fatah said the appoint­ments sug­gest­ed Mor­si does not want to share pow­ers with a vice pres­i­dent. “This is just anoth­er sign that we are head­ing to a dead­lock with the Broth­er­hood insist­ing on monop­o­liz­ing pow­er,” he said.


    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 28, 2012, 10:49 am
  9. Here’s an update on the ever evolv­ing Egypt­ian polit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion: We just passed the 100 day mark­er of Mohammed Mor­si’s term and the reviews are not exact­ly sup­port­ive:

    Egyp­t’s lib­er­als, Islamists clash, 110 report­ed injured

    By Yas­mine Saleh and Mar­wa Awad

    CAIRO | Fri Oct 12, 2012 7:45pm EDT

    (Reuters) — Oppo­nents and sup­port­ers of Egypt­ian Pres­i­dent Mohamed Mur­si clashed in Cairo on Fri­day in the first street vio­lence between rival fac­tions since the Islamist leader took office.

    Islamists and their oppo­nents threw stones, bot­tles and petrol bombs, and some fought hand-to-hand, show­ing how feel­ings still run high between the rival groups try­ing to shape the new Egypt after decades of autoc­ra­cy, although the streets have gen­er­al­ly been calmer since Mur­si’s elec­tion in June.

    The Health Min­istry said 110 peo­ple had sus­tained light to mod­er­ate injuries, state media report­ed.

    A gov­ern­ment is in place, but Islamists and lib­er­als are at log­ger­heads over the draft­ing of the new con­sti­tu­tion, which must be agreed before a new par­lia­ment can be elect­ed.



    Some demon­stra­tors pulled down a tem­po­rary podi­um that had been erect­ed on a side of the square for speech­es. Lat­er, Islamists took over the square, trig­ger­ing scuf­fles in near­by streets as they tried to keep rival groups out.

    Two bus­es parked near the square were set alight. Wit­ness­es said they had been used by the Broth­er­hood to bring in sup­port­ers.

    The Broth­er­hood’s Free­dom and Jus­tice Par­ty (FJP) in a state­ment expressed its “sor­row” over what hap­pened to the bus­es it said were used to bring mem­bers to Cairo. It also con­demned an attack on the Broth­er­hood’s head­quar­ters in the indus­tri­al city of El-Mahal­la El-Kubra.

    “We went to protest against the con­stituent assem­bly and Mur­si’s fail­ure in his 100 days, and Islamists pre­vent­ed us and are now con­trol­ling the square,” said Islam Wagdy, 19, a mem­ber of a group set up by left­ist politi­cian Hamdeen Sabahy.

    An FJP spokesman denied this. “What hap­pened today was an attempt by the lib­er­al pow­ers ... to pre­vent Islamists express­ing their views and protest­ing in Tahrir, which belongs to all Egyp­tians and not to a cer­tain cur­rent,” Ahmed Sobeih said.

    There was no inter­ven­tion by police, who have often been the tar­get of pro­test­ers’ anger because of their bru­tal­i­ty against demon­stra­tors in last year’s revolt.

    The Broth­er­hood, which joined Fri­day’s protest, had said it should focus on this week’s court rul­ing.

    The charge by men on camels and horse­back was one of the most vio­lent inci­dents of the upris­ing that oust­ed Mubarak in Feb­ru­ary 2011. The case has been close­ly watched by those seek­ing jus­tice for the hun­dreds killed in the revolt.

    The court acquit­ted top Mubarak-era offi­cials such as for­mer low­er house speak­er Fathi Sorour and Mubarak aide Safwat Sherif, both of whom are scorned by many Egyp­tians.


    In an appar­ent bid to appease the pub­lic, the pres­i­dent had said late on Thurs­day he was mov­ing Abdel Maguid Mah­moud out of that posi­tion to make him ambas­sador to the Vat­i­can, because Egypt­ian law pre­vent­ed him being dis­missed.

    Mah­moud denounced the move and told Egypt­ian media he would stay on. The influ­en­tial judges’ club con­demned the deci­sion as inter­fer­ence and called for a meet­ing of judi­cial offi­cials on Sun­day to dis­cuss action, the state news agency report­ed.

    Even some polit­i­cal groups who want­ed Mah­moud out ques­tioned the way Mur­si had done it. The lib­er­al Free Egyp­tians Par­ty said chang­ing the pros­e­cu­tor should be an inde­pen­dent judi­cial move.


    First off, it turns out that this entire time we all thought Mor­si was sup­posed to be the “uncharis­mat­ic” B‑team stand-in for Kharait el-Shater but he’s actu­al­ly the mas­ter of the dead­pan deliv­ery. Mak­ing the Vat­i­can ambas­sador­ship the “pun­ish­ment” assign­ment for chief pros­e­cu­tor Abdel Maguid Mah­houd? Ha! He could­n’t “fire” Abdel so he sends him to purgatory....at the Vat­i­can. And total­ly dead­panned. Clas­sic! He’s chan­nel­ing Kauf­man(get well soon Jer­ry). Sure, Mor­si end­ed up back­ing down on the reas­sign­ment threat, but that whole skit still showed poten­tial.

    Sec­ond­ly, and as evi­denced by the burn­ing bus­es and gen­er­al may­hem, the cre­ation and rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the new Egypt­ian con­sti­tu­tion is going to con­tin­ue to be a BIG issue going for­ward. It an his­toric step into a per­ma­nent post-mil­i­tary-rule era that requires enor­mous com­pro­mise from all par­ties across Egyp­t’s new mul­ti-polar polit­i­cal spec­trum. The new con­sti­tu­tion is also guar­an­teed to be high­ly con­tro­ver­sial since there appears to be a Mus­lim Brotherhood/Salafist attempt to use this his­toric oppor­tu­ni­ty to offi­cial­ly enshrine the Mus­lim Brotherhood’s/Salafist’s reli­gious pet peeves into Egyp­t’s civil­ian life. Per­ma­nent­ly. Burn­ing bus­es cer­tain­ly isn’t/aren’t good. Nei­ther is ambigu­ous­ly applic­a­ble con­ju­ga­tion. Or theoc­ra­cy:

    Lib­er­als strug­gling to pre­vent Islamist dom­i­na­tion in writ­ing of Egypt’s new con­sti­tu­tion
    By Asso­ci­at­ed Press,

    CAIRO — Islamists are seek­ing to enshrine in Egypt’s long-await­ed new con­sti­tu­tion a num­ber of arti­cles that sec­u­lar­ists and lib­er­als fear would bring theo­crat­ic rule and severe­ly set back civ­il lib­er­ties, includ­ing pro­vi­sions that could empow­er cler­ics to review laws and would stip­u­late that women’s rights can­not vio­late Shari­ah law or “fam­i­ly duties.”

    Lib­er­als and sec­u­lar­ists have been strug­gling to keep out the pro­vi­sions, but are find­ing them­selves out­num­bered and vul­ner­a­ble to being over­ruled on the 100-mem­ber assem­bly that is writ­ing the char­ter meant to set the path for post-rev­o­lu­tion Egypt.

    The assem­bly, where Islamists hold a major­i­ty, has been debat­ing the con­sti­tu­tion over near­ly 50 ses­sions dur­ing the past months. But the wran­gling has heat­ed up as the body gets clos­er to vot­ing on a final draft, which would then be put to a yes-or-no ref­er­en­dum by the pub­lic, expect­ed by the end of the year. Lib­er­als, how­ev­er, say they have few tools to block Islamists’ demands oth­er than walk­ing out of the assem­bly — a step they have wavered on tak­ing for fear or los­ing their voice entire­ly.

    Around 100 women protest­ed against the Islamists’ pro­vi­sions Tues­day out­side the upper house of par­lia­ment, where the assem­bly has been hold­ing its ses­sions. They chant­ed against a “reli­gious state” and shout­ed, “Down with the rule of the Broth­er­hood.”

    Mag­da Adly, one rights activist at the gath­er­ing, warned of “a con­sti­tu­tion that only sees women as tasked to make babies,” say­ing the Islamists’ pro­vi­sions would open the door to dra­mat­i­cal­ly low­er­ing the mar­riage age for women and end­ing restric­tions on female gen­i­tal muti­la­tion.

    Bat­tles also spilled into the court­room Tues­day as a Cairo court con­vened to exam­ine near­ly 40 suits call­ing for the assem­bly to be dis­band­ed. Lawyers from the two sides pushed and shoved each oth­er in shout­ing match­es that forced the judges to post­pone the hear­ing for a week. If the court even­tu­al­ly orders the assem­bly dis­band­ed, Islamist Pres­i­dent Mohammed Mor­si would form the new one, and lib­er­als’ have lit­tle faith it would be any more favor­able to them.

    The con­sti­tu­tion has been long await­ed as a key step in estab­lish­ing a democ­ra­cy in Egypt after last year’s ouster of auto­crat­ic ruler Hos­ni Mubarak. The upris­ing that forced Mubarak out was led by pro­gres­sive, sec­u­lar activists who ral­lied pub­lic anger over wors­en­ing pover­ty, the monop­oly on pow­er by Mubarak’s rul­ing par­ty, ram­pant cor­rup­tion and wide­spread abus­es by secu­ri­ty and intel­li­gence agen­cies.

    But in the near­ly 20 months since, Islamists have emerged as the strongest polit­i­cal pow­er. Mor­si, Egypt’s first freely elect­ed pres­i­dent, is a vet­er­an fig­ure from the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, which dom­i­nat­ed par­lia­men­tary elec­tions last year. Also pow­er­ful are the ultra­con­ser­v­a­tive Salafis, who call for an even stricter imple­men­ta­tion of Islam­ic Shari­ah law than the Broth­er­hood.


    Some parts of the new char­ter that appear to have con­sen­sus so far would set a more demo­c­ra­t­ic sys­tem for Egypt, reduc­ing the over­whelm­ing pow­ers that the pres­i­dent has long held and increas­ing the author­i­ties of par­lia­ment.

    But a num­ber of arti­cles put for­ward by Islamists have raised lib­er­als’ con­cerns.

    One pro­pos­al would estab­lish a pow­er­ful polit­i­cal role for Egypt’s pre­mier Islam­ic insti­tu­tion, Al-Azhar, say­ing the opin­ion of its top cler­ics would be “the final or main ref­er­ence for the state in what­ev­er is relat­ed to Shari­ah law.” Some fear that would estab­lish an Iran­ian-style sys­tem where cler­ics over­see laws passed by par­lia­ment. Al-Azhar is gen­er­al­ly seen as a mod­er­ate body, but con­ser­v­a­tives and Salafis have been gain­ing influ­ence in its ranks.

    “Islamists will con­tin­ue to rule the coun­try through this insti­tu­tion (Al-Azhar) even if they lose elec­tions,” the Nation­al Front For Jus­tice and Democ­ra­cy, an inde­pen­dent group mon­i­tor­ing the assembly’s delib­er­a­tions, said in a recent report.

    There has been a sharp debate over revis­ing the sec­ond arti­cle of the pre­vi­ous con­sti­tu­tion which says the “prin­ci­ples of Shari­ah” are the main source of leg­is­la­tion. Many Islamists see that lan­guage as too vague and want it changed to “the rul­ings of Shari­ah,” which they see as pro­vid­ing for a more strict adher­ence to their inter­pre­ta­tion of Islam­ic law.

    In oth­er Islamist-backed arti­cles, women would enjoy equal rights as men as long as they do not “vio­late Shari­ah” or “fam­i­ly duties.” Islamists also blocked attempts to intro­duce a clause guar­an­tee­ing Egypt’s adher­ence to inter­na­tion­al treaties it has already joined on end­ing dis­crim­i­na­tion against women. They wor­ried that such a clause could be used to ban female gen­i­tal muti­la­tion or pre­vent low­er­ing of the mar­riage age, which they saw are allowed under Shari­ah. Some Salafi sheiks have called for allow­ing girls to be mar­ried with the onset of puber­ty.

    Anoth­er pro­posed clause would stip­u­late that Chris­tians and Jews have the right to abide by their “own reli­gious laws” and choose “their reli­gious lead­er­ship,” a pro­vi­sion that Islamists say pro­tects minori­ties. Crit­ics say it con­tra­dicts the prin­ci­ples of equal cit­i­zen­ship and enshrines a sec­ond-class sta­tus.

    Anoth­er arti­cle would rec­og­nize the right of Chris­tians and Jews to con­duct their rit­u­als and build places of wor­ship, but on the con­di­tion they do not “vio­late pub­lic order.” That could allow law­mak­ers to main­tain restric­tions on the build­ing of church­es, since church con­struc­tion has often prompt­ed sec­tar­i­an strife in the past.

    Oth­er claus­es are heavy with vague ref­er­ences to pre­serv­ing the “morals” and “tra­di­tions” of Egypt­ian soci­ety, which crit­ics fear could be used to restrict free­doms of speech and polit­i­cal activ­i­ty.

    “This is a dis­as­ter,” said left­ist politi­cian Hus­sein Abdel-Razek. “The pro­posed arti­cles reflect the core of polit­i­cal Islam cur­rents like the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood and Salafis. They are auto­crat­ic and repres­sive at heart.”

    Nehad Aboul-Qom­san, head of the Egypt­ian Cen­ter for Women rights, raised a warn­ing over the rights women won over the years, say­ing, “We are los­ing them now.”


    As a region­al leader, Egypt is one of those coun­tries that’s big­ger than itself so Egyp­t’s new con­sti­tu­tion is a huge deal glob­al­ly because we all need Egyp­t’s neigh­bor­hood to get on track ASAP. Egypt just spent 30+ years under mil­i­tary rule and has enough urgent prob­lems on its own, it does­n’t need to spend the next three decades wal­low­ing under the rule of pow­er-hun­gry Islamists. So it’s quite a pleas­ant turn of events for the glob­al com­mu­ni­ty that the cur­rent crop of Egypt­ian youths that are up to the task of mak­ing a real viable future for the coun­try. But that viable future for Egyp­t’s assumes folks like Mor­si don’t muck up Egyp­t’s con­sti­tu­tion with a per­ma­nent MB-veto. Giv­en their sig­nif­i­cant orga­ni­za­tion­al advan­tages at the moment, the MB will prob­a­bly be able to engage in quite a bit of con­sti­tu­tion­al muck­ing dur­ing this first round. But it’s impor­tant to keep in mind that we’re still in the ear­ly stages of Egyp­t’s post-Mubarak future. It’s going to be very inter­est­ing to watch this gen­er­a­tion of young Egyp­tians going for­ward because if Mor­si’s “first 100 days” reviews are any indi­ca­tion of what to expect, the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood short-term “youth prob­lem” could turn into a long-term “most of Egyp­t’s adults prob­lem”. And then there’s the cur­rent prob­lem with the chief pros­e­cu­tor, Mr. Mah­moud. The one that was­n’t sent to pur­ga­to­ry at the Vat­i­can. He’s still the chief pros­e­cu­tor:

    Egypt Broth­er­hood Offi­cials Inves­ti­gat­ed Over Protest Clash­es
    By Salma El War­dany and Ahmed El-Sayed on Octo­ber 15, 2012

    Egypt­ian Pros­e­cu­tor-Gen­er­al Abdel- Meguid Mah­moud has ordered an inves­ti­ga­tion into alle­ga­tions two top Mus­lim Broth­er­hood offi­cials incit­ed attacks on women dur­ing a Cairo protest last week, his office said.

    The inves­ti­ga­tion of Mohamed El-Belt­agy and Essam El-Erian stemmed from Oct. 12 clash­es between sec­u­lar groups and mem­bers of the Brotherhood’s polit­i­cal par­ty that left over 140 injured. The inci­dent under­scored the ten­sions that have built up between Islamists back­ing Pres­i­dent Mohamed Mur­si and sec­u­lar­ists who have grown increas­ing­ly wor­ried about the Islamists’ hold on gov­ern­ment.

    Mahmoud’s order comes days after he defied Mursi’s attempt to remove him from office, a move crit­i­cized by the judi­cia­ry as an attempt by the pres­i­dent to encroach on their inde­pen­dence and author­i­ty. Mur­si lat­er said Mah­moud would remain in his post instead of being sent off as Egypt’s ambas­sador to the Vat­i­can.


    The com­plaints were filed with Mahmoud’s office by at least one female activist who alleged the Broth­er­hood sup­port­ers attacked women at the demon­stra­tion.

    The clash­es occurred as the Broth­er­hood orga­nized a protest against the acquit­tal of sev­er­al top offi­cials from oust­ed Pres­i­dent Hos­ni Mubarak’s gov­ern­ment on charges of involve­ment in the so-called “Bat­tle of the Camel,” in which pro­test­ers were killed dur­ing last year’s revolt. Sep­a­rate­ly, oth­er groups protest­ed both the acquit­tals and Mursi’s rule.

    Yep. Lot’s of long-term prob­lems for the MB and Salafists. Win­ning hearts and minds can be dif­fi­cult when you lack both. Even when you learn from the best.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 15, 2012, 9:25 pm
  10. Sweet sweet unchecked pow­er. It’s good to be the king pres­i­dent:

    Egyp­t’s Morsy gives him­self new pow­ers, orders retri­als in pro­test­er deaths
    From Mohamed Fadel Fah­my, CNN
    updat­ed 6:32 PM EST, Thu Novem­ber 22, 2012

    (CNN) — Egypt­ian Pres­i­dent Mohamed Morsy has issued an order pre­vent­ing any court from over­turn­ing his deci­sions, essen­tial­ly allow­ing him to run the coun­try unchecked until a new con­sti­tu­tion is draft­ed, his spokesman announced on state TV Thurs­day.


    Polit­i­cal rivals also expressed dis­may Thurs­day evening.

    “Morsy is tak­ing over the exec­u­tive, judi­cial, and leg­isla­tive pow­ers in his hands, and this is a dan­ger­ous path,” said the Twit­ter account of Hamdeen Sabahy, a for­mer pres­i­den­tial can­di­date.

    “Morsy has issued immu­ni­ty to any laws he issues. This is the birth of a new dic­ta­tor,” tweet­ed Khaled Ali, anoth­er for­mer pres­i­den­tial can­di­date.

    Hun­dreds of Mus­lim Broth­er­hood sup­port­ers, mean­while, stood out­side the gen­er­al pros­e­cu­tor’s office Thurs­day to sup­port Morsy’s decrees.

    Morsy declared that any laws or decrees he’s made since he took office June 30, and until a new con­sti­tu­tion is put in place, are final and can­not be over­turned or appealed, his spokesman said on state-run TV.

    Morsy also declared that a 100-man coun­cil draft­ing a new con­sti­tu­tion, plus the upper house of par­lia­ment, can­not be dis­solved. And he grant­ed the coun­cil two more months to fin­ish a draft con­sti­tu­tion, mean­ing the pan­el has six months to fin­ish.

    That means Morsy, who ear­li­er this year took over leg­isla­tive pow­ers from the mil­i­tary coun­cil that ruled after Mubarak’s ouster, could have at least six months of unchecked rule by decree. The draft con­sti­tu­tion would go to a ref­er­en­dum before it is final­ized.

    He also fired Egyp­t’s gen­er­al pros­e­cu­tor, who had tak­en crit­i­cism from pro­test­ers in recent months because they believe pros­e­cu­tions over demon­stra­tors’ deaths were insuf­fi­cient. Morsy swore in Talaat Ibrahim as the new gen­er­al pros­e­cu­tor on Thurs­day.

    Morsy’s moves come three days after the start of vio­lent protests in cen­tral Cairo, large­ly by peo­ple angry at Morsy’s gov­ern­ment and the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, the Islamist move­ment to which Morsy belongs. They also come amid tur­moil in the con­sti­tu­tion pan­el, which has been torn between con­ser­v­a­tives want­i­ng the con­sti­tu­tion to man­date Egypt be gov­erned by Islam’s Sharia law, and mod­er­ates and lib­er­als who want it to say that Egypt be gov­erned by prin­ci­ples of Sharia.

    The announce­ments also come a day after Morsy helped bro­ker a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas after an eight-day con­flict between the sides.


    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 22, 2012, 4:31 pm
  11. It’s look­ing more and more like Egypt might be in for anoth­er rev­o­lu­tion. Mor­si is refus­ing to back down on his pow­er grab while simul­ta­ne­ous­ly call­ing for ‘dia­logue’ with oppo­si­tion so they could plan togeth­er on how to move Egypt for­ward after the con­sti­tu­tion is rat­i­fied. And the oppo­si­tion does not appear to be inter­est­ed in more ‘dia­logue’ with Mor­si:

    Pro­test­ers surge around Egyp­t’s pres­i­den­tial palace
    By Edmund Blair and Yas­mine Saleh

    CAIRO | Fri Dec 7, 2012 2:13pm EST

    (Reuters) — Tens of thou­sands of Egypt­ian pro­test­ers surged around Pres­i­dent Mohamed Mur­si’s palace in Cairo on Fri­day after break­ing through barbed wire bar­ri­cades and climb­ing onto army tanks guard­ing the premis­es.

    “The peo­ple want the down­fall of the regime” and “Leave, leave,” they chant­ed, using slo­gans used in the upris­ing that top­pled Mur­si’s pre­de­ces­sor Hos­ni Mubarak in Feb­ru­ary 2011.

    Oppo­si­tion lead­ers ear­li­er reject­ed a nation­al dia­logue pro­posed by the Islamist pres­i­dent as a way out of a cri­sis that has polar­ized the nation and pro­voked dead­ly street clash­es.

    Elite Repub­li­can Guard units had ringed the palace with tanks and barbed wire on Thurs­day after a night of vio­lence between Islamist sup­port­ers of Mur­si and their oppo­nents, in which sev­en peo­ple were killed and 350 wound­ed.

    Islamists, who had obeyed a mil­i­tary order for demon­stra­tors to leave the palace envi­rons, held funer­als on Fri­day at Cairo’s al-Azhar mosque for six Mur­si par­ti­sans who were among the dead. “With our blood and souls, we sac­ri­fice to Islam,” they chant­ed.

    Mur­si had offered few con­ces­sions in a speech late on Thurs­day, refus­ing to retract a Novem­ber 22 decree in which he assumed sweep­ing pow­ers or can­cel a ref­er­en­dum next week on a con­sti­tu­tion new­ly draft­ed by an Islamist-dom­i­nat­ed assem­bly.

    Instead, he called for a dia­logue at his office on Sat­ur­day to chart a way for­ward for Egypt after the ref­er­en­dum, an idea that lib­er­al, left­ist and oth­er oppo­si­tion lead­ers rebuffed.

    They have demand­ed that Mur­si rescind the decree in which he tem­porar­i­ly shield­ed his deci­sions from judi­cial review and that he post­pone the Decem­ber 15 ref­er­en­dum before any talks begin.

    A leader of the main oppo­si­tion coali­tion said it would not join Mur­si’s dia­logue: “The Nation­al Sal­va­tion Front is not tak­ing part in the dia­logue,” said Ahmed Said, a leader of the coali­tion, who also heads the lib­er­al Free Egyp­tians Par­ty.

    The Fron­t’s coor­di­na­tor, Mohamed ElBa­radei, a Nobel peace lau­re­ate, urged “nation­al forces” to shun what he called an offer based on “arm-twist­ing and impo­si­tion of a fait accom­pli”.

    Murad Ali, spokesman of the Broth­er­hood’s Free­dom and Jus­tice Par­ty (FJP), said oppo­si­tion reac­tions were sad: “What exit to this cri­sis do they have oth­er than dia­logue?” he asked.

    Mur­si’s decree giv­ing him­self extra pow­ers sparked the worst polit­i­cal cri­sis since he took office in June and set off renewed unrest that is dim­ming Egyp­t’s hopes of sta­bil­i­ty and eco­nom­ic recov­ery after near­ly two years of tur­moil fol­low­ing the over­throw of Mubarak, a mil­i­tary-backed strong­man.

    The tur­moil has exposed con­trast­ing visions for Egypt, one held by Islamists, who were sup­pressed for decades by the army, and anoth­er by their rivals, who fear reli­gious con­ser­v­a­tives want to squeeze out oth­er voic­es and restrict social free­doms.

    Caught in the mid­dle are many of Egyp­t’s 83 mil­lion peo­ple who are des­per­ate for an end to polit­i­cal tur­bu­lence threat­en­ing their pre­car­i­ous liveli­hoods in an econ­o­my under severe strain.

    “We are so tired, by God,” said Mohamed Ali, a labor­er. “I did not vote for Mur­si nor any­one else. I only care about bring­ing food to my fam­i­ly, but I haven’t had work for a week.”

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 7, 2012, 1:19 pm
  12. @Pterrafractyl: Thanks for cov­er­ing this on here! Peo­ple need­ed to hear this, I think. At least there’s some hope that the MB’s moves to secure ulti­mate pow­er in that coun­try will back­fire on them.....we can only hope, any­way. =)

    Posted by Steven L. | December 8, 2012, 2:39 pm
  13. It was anoth­er whirl­wind day for Egyp­t’s cri­sis. First, we get reports that Mor­si is plan­ning on declar­ing mar­tial law and call­ing in the mil­i­tary:

    Mor­si Is Seen on a Path to Impos­ing Mar­tial Law in Egypt

    Pub­lished: Decem­ber 8, 2012

    CAIRO — Strug­gling to quell street protests and polit­i­cal vio­lence, Pres­i­dent Mohamed Mor­si is mov­ing to impose a ver­sion of mar­tial law by call­ing on the armed forces to keep order and autho­riz­ing sol­diers to arrest civil­ians, Egypt­ian state media announced Sat­ur­day.

    If Mr. Mor­si goes through with the plan, it would rep­re­sent a his­toric role rever­sal. For decades, Egypt’s mil­i­tary-backed author­i­tar­i­an pres­i­dents had used mar­tial law to hold on to pow­er and to pun­ish Islamists like Mr. Mor­si, who spent months in jail under a sim­i­lar decree.

    A turn back to the mil­i­tary would also come just four months after Mr. Mor­si man­aged to pry polit­i­cal pow­er out of the hands of the country’s pow­er­ful gen­er­als, who led a tran­si­tion­al gov­ern­ment after the ouster of the long­time strong­man Hos­ni Mubarak.

    The flag­ship state news­pa­per Al Ahram report­ed that Mr. Mor­si “will soon issue a deci­sion for the par­tic­i­pa­tion of the armed forces in the duties of main­tain­ing secu­ri­ty and pro­tec­tion of vital state insti­tu­tions.” The mil­i­tary would main­tain its expand­ed role until the com­ple­tion of a ref­er­en­dum on a draft con­sti­tu­tion next Sat­ur­day and the elec­tion of a new Par­lia­ment expect­ed two months after that.


    Mr. Mor­si has not yet for­mal­ly issued the order report­ed in Al Ahram, rais­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ty that the news­pa­per announce­ment was intend­ed as a warn­ing to his oppo­nents. Although the plan would not ful­ly sus­pend the civ­il law, it would nonethe­less have the effect of sus­pend­ing legal rights by empow­er­ing sol­diers under the con­trol of the defense min­is­ter to try civil­ians in mil­i­tary courts.


    Moataz Abdel-Fat­tah, a for­mer advis­er to Egypt’s tran­si­tion­al prime min­is­ter who is close to Defense Min­is­ter Abdul Fat­tah el-Sisi, sug­gest­ed that the gen­er­als might have prompt­ed Mr. Mor­si to announce the pos­si­bil­i­ty of mar­tial law as a warn­ing to all the polit­i­cal fac­tions to end the cri­sis.

    “The mil­i­tary is say­ing, ‘Do not let things get so bad that we have to inter­vene,’ ” Mr. Abdel-Fat­tah said. “In the short term it is good for Pres­i­dent Mor­si, but in the long run they are also say­ing, ‘We belong to the peo­ple, and not Mr. Mor­si or his oppo­nents.’ ”

    The military’s return to the streets at Mr. Morsi’s request would be a turn of events that was almost unimag­in­able when he took office in June.

    The top gen­er­als had pushed for months to main­tain a role in Egypt­ian pol­i­tics and to lim­it the president’s pow­ers — in part, their sup­port­ers argued, as a safe­guard against an Islamist takeover.

    After tak­ing office Mr. Mor­si spent months court­ing the gen­er­als, some­times earn­ing the deri­sion of lib­er­al activists for his pub­lic flat­tery of their role. In an August decree, he relied on the back­ing of some top offi­cers to remove the hand­ful of gen­er­als who had insist­ed on main­tain­ing a polit­i­cal role. And then last month, despite the protests of the same activists, the new Islamist-backed draft con­sti­tu­tion turned out to include pro­tec­tions of the military’s auton­o­my and priv­i­leges with­in the Egypt­ian gov­ern­ment, sug­gest­ing an under­stand­ing between the two sides that may now come into effect.


    On Sat­ur­day, Mohamed Badie, the Mus­lim Brotherhood’s spir­i­tu­al guide, held a news con­fer­ence to argue that the group had been the vic­tim of its oppo­nents’ attacks and not an aggres­sor, at times almost plead­ing with its oppo­nents not to let their fear of the Islamists keep them away from nego­ti­at­ing a res­o­lu­tion to the cri­sis.

    “I am telling every­one, ‘Do not hate the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood so much that you for­get Egypt’s inter­est,’ ” he said. “You can be angry at us and hate us as much as you want.” But he added: “Pro­tect Egypt. Its uni­ty can­not take what is hap­pen­ing right now.”

    So we have what appear to be some sort of mar­tial law warn­ing com­ing from Mor­si at the mil­i­tary’s request (recall that Mor­si was the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood’s polit­i­cal “fix­er” and lia­son with the Egypt­ian secu­ri­ty forces before becom­ing pres­i­dent). And the mil­i­tary itself also issued a state­ment call­ing for dia­logue and warn­ing of a “dark tun­nel” for Egypt should the mil­i­tary be forced to inter­vene. So there’s a very strong mes­sage being sent to Mor­si’s oppo­nents to end the street protest.

    And now, lat­er in the day, we get a new decree. A decree to annul the pre­vi­ous decrees...well, some of them. The decree about the con­sti­tu­tion­al rat­i­fi­ca­tion vote next week is still in force:

    8 Decem­ber 2012 Last updat­ed at 17:54 ET
    Egypt cri­sis: Pres­i­dent Mor­si ‘annuls’ pow­ers decree

    Egypt­ian Pres­i­dent Mohammed Mor­si has annulled a decree he issued last month that huge­ly expand­ed his pow­ers and sparked angry protests, offi­cials say.

    How­ev­er, a news con­fer­ence in Cairo was told that a ref­er­en­dum on a draft con­sti­tu­tion would still go ahead as planned on 15 Decem­ber.

    Mr Mor­si’s crit­ics have accused him of act­ing like a dic­ta­tor, but he says he is safe­guard­ing the rev­o­lu­tion.

    He said the extra pow­ers were need­ed to force through reforms.

    Since tak­ing office, Mr Mor­si has been at log­ger­heads with the judi­cia­ry.

    “The con­sti­tu­tion­al decree is annulled from this moment,” said Selim al-Awa, an Islamist politi­cian act­ing as a spokesman for a meet­ing Mr Mor­si held ear­li­er with polit­i­cal lead­ers.

    Post­pone­ment call

    The pres­i­den­t’s sup­port­ers say the judi­cia­ry is made up of reac­tionary fig­ures from the old regime of strong­man Hos­ni Mubarak.

    But his oppo­nents have mount­ed almost con­tin­u­ous protests since 22 Novem­ber, when the decree was passed.

    They are also furi­ous over the draft­ing of a new nation­al con­sti­tu­tion because they see the process as being dom­i­nat­ed by Mr Mor­si’s Islamist allies.

    An umbrel­la oppo­si­tion group, the Nation­al Sal­va­tion Group, has demand­ed Mr Mor­si rescind his decree and post­pone a ref­er­en­dum on the new con­sti­tu­tion due on 15 Decem­ber.


    It’s look­ing like Egypt may have found itself in the unfor­tu­nate sit­u­a­tion of hav­ing to not only ask the ques­tion “Can the unstop­pable force move the unmov­able object?” but also answer it. Is a decree to end all future decrees pos­si­ble now that the decree-on/de­cree-off prece­dent has been set or is Egypt going to be stuck in a per­pet­u­al state of an unde­clared decree threat? And if the mil­i­tary is real­ly form­ing an Islamist alliance it’s we may end up with a sit­u­a­tion of selec­tive enforce­ment of that threat (e.g. when the youth protests in the future they get a crack­down but if the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood does it there’s no response). While the decree annul­ment does look like a pos­i­tive step over­all, this is also a poten­tial­ly omi­nous turn of events. If the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood can estab­lish ear­ly on that there is an implic­it threat that civ­il dis­obe­di­ence will results in mar­tial law and a decree-spree, that threat is going to go a long way towards accom­plish­ing the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood’s long-term vision for an unde­mo­c­ra­t­ic Islamist state in Egypt.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 8, 2012, 5:12 pm

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