All Sorts of Things

Random posts on all sorts of things designed to inform and provoke.

Egypt: Should Morsi Finish His Term?

Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) has told Mohammad Morsi – the country’s newly elected president – to “respond to a wave of mass protests within 48 hours or face an intervention.”

The SCAF’s ultimatum, which does not clarify what the response should be, is scheduled to end at 5:00 pm on Wednesday and, aside from the NSA, no one knows what 5:10 pm will look like throughout Egypt.

This is an interesting development because it once again raises the age-old question of how much support should be given to a nascent democracy when the democratic leaders become increasingly autocratic and dictatorial.

Most readers will likely know that Morsi – a member of the Islamist Egyptian Brotherhood – came to power on the wave of a populist movement – idealistically termed the Arab Spring by a marketer likely working in a basement in Manhattan – that forced Egypt’s long-term president Hosni Mubarak to abdicate.

Morsi’s win in the subsequent election was not a surprise and the international community, which had championed the country’s move towards more transparent democracy, was pleased to hear talk of cooperation, reconciliation and inclusion from the Brotherhood.

However, all this turned out to just verbal flimflam as Morsi grew more autocratic by the day and began moving the country in an Islamist direction. In the meantime, the Egyptian economy sputtered, inflation continued to rise and unemployment refused to decline.

Consequently, even those Egyptians who had supported the Brotherhood began to reconsider their vote and joined the anti-Morsi protests thereby increasing their size, influence and impact.

The SCAF’s ultimatum to Morsi is an attempt by the armed forces to reclaim some of the power they had lost during the term of the current president. This surely has to be a good sign for the United States who has continued to send aid, primarily military-focused, to the country’s military.

The biggest negative impact of these developments will be on the region’s Islamists whose hopes of a cross-national political ascension have been dashed. No doubt, Morsi realizes this as he has adopted a multi-path counter strategy of proposing a fresh technocratic government, changes to the constitution and new parliamentary elections.

It’s doubtful these proposals will calm his opponents but then the fact is nothing short of his departure will appease them. Obviously, Morsi’s exit will raise other problems as his supporters don’t want him to leave because, as they rightly point out, he is a democratically elected president and they will do whatever they can to protect their votes.

Furthermore, there is no evidence that if Morsi did resign and new elections were held then any party other than the Muslim Brotherhood would get the largest number of votes. This means that the Egyptians will likely be back to the same place in a year or less.

In addition, there is no way this action will not hurt the country’s democracy which is based on leaders making mistakes, getting voted out for those mistakes and the populace learning from their errors and voting for better leadership. Of course, as voters in the US can attest, this doesn’t always work but, regardless, it is the best system out there.

The problem for Egypt is that other than the military it doesn’t have the institutions to assist in a peaceful transition of power. Therefore, it makes for the citizens to be concerned that Morsi’s presidency could usher in a period of Mubarak II.

This is why the military is so important here because it can assist in that peaceful transition by forcing Morsi to continue his presidency but share power in a democratic manner – and, I totally get the contradiction of my statement.

In conclusion, despite the anti-democratic actions taken by Morsi, the country’s citizens and military should do everything they can to assist Egypt navigate these uncharted waters and not turn the boat over. Implementing a short-term solution at the stake of a long-term problem is no resolution at all.

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2 comments on “Egypt: Should Morsi Finish His Term?

  1. ruleduke
    July 2, 2013

    You make some good points. However, I personally think – based on what data is available – that the Brotherhood would suffer electoral setbacks compared to previous elections. I do not think they would be able to take the presidency again – in part that was due to the way the rounds were run. And I think they would lose some of their gains in Parliament (they tripled their seats between 2005 and 2011; although the former election was rigged).

    • AHB
      July 3, 2013

      The only question I have is if not the Brotherhood then whom? Admittedly, a CivMil coalition could make a party and it could win the most votes but what are the chances of it becoming the country’s largest political party in a fair election. Egypt may soon join the long list of countries ruled by coalitions – not that there’s anything wrong with that.

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This entry was posted on July 2, 2013 by in International Affairs and tagged , , , , , , .
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