On July 3, the Egyptian military forcefully removed the first democratically elected civilian president in Egypt. Mohammed Morsi was removed after a protracted demonstration against his regime by millions of frustrated Egyptians. The Defense Minister, General Abdul Fattah Al-Sisi had warned Morsi of the impending action if he does not find a timely and satisfactory solution to the differences with his opponents. Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood rode to power on the back of a popular revolution that overthrew Egypt's long time tyrant, Hosni Mubarak.
Since Morsi and the brotherhood came to power under the Freedom and Justice Party platform, tensions have increased in Egyptian society. There has been increased strife between Christians and Muslims. Christians are terrified and are emigrating in large numbers to the United States and Europe. The plan of the Brotherhood was to drive all Christians out of Egypt as happened in Iraq after Saddam Hussein's overthrow. The economy was in a free fall because foreign investors were scarred to invest and wealthy Arab nations like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and The United Arab Emirates with held their financial assistance to Egypt. Tourists stayed away because of insecurity and uncertainty. Unemployment was skyrocketing and prices of basic commodities were getting beyond the reach of the average citizen.
Moreover, Morsi was issuing bizarre decrees and gradually concentrating power in his hands, setting the stage for another dictatorship. Nobody knew how governmental decisions were made and transparency was thrown out of the window. The founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hassan Al Banna had articulated a one party theocracy for Egypt, millions of Egyptians were beginning to believe that Morsi and the Brotherhood were slowly dragging them towards Theocratic State. Egypt is an Islamic nation, but Egyptians do not want an Islamic or a theocratic state. In addition, Morsi was trying to drag Egypt into the Syrian quagmire, and the army was very nervous about that. Hence the stage for confrontation was set.
After all is said and done, strategic errors made by Morsi and the Brotherhood led to their down fall. First, as a civilian, Morsi should have avoided an early confrontation with the leadership of the army. The manner in which he removed Marshall Tantawi and the military leadership that handed over power to him did not sit well with the army. He should have left Tantawi as Minister of defense until he consolidates power. This is a consequence of inexperience and proved costly. Secondly, he promised to appoint a Christian as a Vice President but reneged on that promise. That alienated the Christian population and deepened the mistrust between Christians and Muslims. Third, the moderate Gulf states led by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait were not comfortable with a radical Brotherhood regime in Egypt and saw it as a threat to their own governments. Their reaction was to with hold economic assistance to Egypt, thereby exacerbating economic difficulties. Fourth, Morsi and the Brotherhood became too comfortable and failed to take a lesson from the past.
In the 1940's, the British prevented the founder of the Brotherhood Hassan AL Banna from taking a seat in parliament after he was elected, and in the 1990's the Algerian army prevented an Islamic party from taking power after it won an election. This action led to a brutal civil war. Fifth, Morsi failed to learn that no far reaching social and political transformation can take place in a any country with the old order still in place. The army is always a representative of the old order. You cannot build a new order on the back of the old order. The old order must be swept away. Allende in Chile and Mossadegh in Iran made the same mistakes and paid the price. Khomeini and the Mullahs in Iran learnt that lesson and are still in power.
Now that the deed has been done, what is next for Egypt?. The army has been careful to project its action as a “corrective action” backed by popular will, not a classic coup. It has quickly assembled a civilian caretaker government under the Presidency of Adly Mansour, a Mubarak era judge. In order to assure Egypt's friends in the United States and Europe, Mansour has appointed Mohammed el Baradei, former Chief of the Atomic Energy Commission as Vice President for foreign affairs. The Egyptian army receives about $1.5 billion from the United States annually and will lose this assistance if Washington sees the military action as a coup.
However, the United States and other European nations are quietly sympathetic to the Egyptian army. The United States is going ahead to supply Egypt with the f-16 jets that were in the pipeline before Morsi's overthrow. Moreover, since Morsi's fall, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates have pledged a sum of $12.1 billion dollars to the new regime. This is the money they with held from the Brotherhood regime.
The dust has not yet settled in Egypt. The possibility of civil war in Egypt is real. Brotherhood inspired Muslims are accusing Christians of being behind the overthrow of a Muslim ruler, and are instigating attacks on Christians. Unlike before, Christians have vowed to fight back. The Brotherhood have refused to join the Mansour caretaker government and may likely go underground and start a violent confrontation with the army. They are well organized and well armed. They have turned violent before under Nasser, Sadat and Mubarak and could do it again.
However, one thing is clear-majority of Egyptians are proud to belong to an Islamic nation but do not want a theocratic state. And the Christian minority are glad that attempts by the Brotherhood to Iraqinize them have been prematurely aborted by the army.
*Dr. Leonard Madu is President of the African Caribbean Institute and African Chamber of Commerce. He is also a Fox TV foreign affairs analyst and writes from Nashville, TN.
Was it not two years ago, when the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ revolution took place in Egypt? The long-time brutal and iron-fisted dictator Hosni Mubarak was dethroned and drove out of power. For the first time in the history of Egypt a democratic and free election was held and President Mohammed Morsi was elected by majority votes.
In the so-called revolution in Egypt that ushered in President Morsi, the army played a vital and somewhat constructive role in the ushering of democracy. When the people of Egypt rose up against Mubarak and his henchmen, the Egyptian army took the side of the people that swiftly made the difference and facilitated the removal of Mubarak from power.
Egyptian army has been known for its independence but with birth of democratic dispensation in Egypt the army was expected to succumb to the constitutional authority of presidency and accept the civilian control of the military. But that was not necessary the case, President Morsi has encountered a major problem in reining in the elongated power of the army.
Morsi could not be accused of not trying to tame the army’s adroitness and bravado. He made some changes in the army industrial complex by removing some top army brass and replaced them with those loyal to him. Yet the threat of the army to his ruler ship has never been subsided nor absolutely contained because the root of army domination could not be easily diminished by his limited surgical application. A more strategic planning and application with enhanced skill must be sufficiently applied to transform the army to a loyal institution in democratic arena. The inability to accomplish the task was part of Morsi’s failure and now he is paying for his mistake and incompetence.
The successful removal of the former President Mubarak with the aid of the army may have brought a temporary euphoria and a comfort level with populace. But it opened the door for the army to assume the role as guardian of democracy and this unassigned responsibility may be quite troubling. The army in democracy should not dabble into politics, and should be subject to the constitutional supremacy of civil authority. The function of the army is to defend the country from outside enemies and not to become the kingmaker. This is not how a healthy democracy is supposed to be run.
Most of the problems of President Morsi were self inflicted which was rooted in his paucity of political maturity. In democracy there are always political opponents and minorities, and without doubt that their views and rights must be jealously protected and respected.
But beyond Muslim Brotherhood party, many felted left out and detected the wall of intolerance erected. With pursuit and enhancement of non-secularism by Morsi administration, he invariably becomes more vulnerable because the public perceived his absconding of democratic principle for sectarianism.
Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, the Egyptian defense minister photo: Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Egypt’s army without a doubt was at a logger head with President Morsi, who fails to fully appreciate the threat of the army and the best possible way to neutralize the army’s ambition of being a credible alternative to Muslim Brotherhood Party. Morsi failed to do what was necessary to keep away the army from direct or indirect intervention in the country’s politics.
As a democratic elected politician, President Morsi failed to understand that his greatest power, strength and authority come from the people of Egypt who are the true guardian of the country’s democracy. Instead of working assiduously and diligently to unite the Egyptian people including his opponents and those that did not vote for him. Morsi rather pursued a one-dimensional grab of power, a miscalculation that rather strengthened the hands of the army. Unbeknownst to him, he succeeded in making the army more relevant, even as an alternative in political arena and landscape.
By his blind spot and sloppy leadership he enhanced the prestige of the army and unknowingly establishes the army as the custodian of Egypt’s democracy. The army beat Morsi at the political game of chess. Morsi spoke about ‘legitimacy’ without acknowledging his mandate and the power of the people that legitimacy rests on. Mori‘s political calculus forgone the grassroots (Arab Street) as he became more philosophical instead of being pragmatic.
President Morsi failed because he was so-much in hurry to appease his Muslim brotherhood compatriots at the expense of the rest of his political opponents and populace. As an elected national leader he should have bring everybody to the table including his liberal opponents, minorities and those at peripheral of the society and negotiate a more accommodative political umbrella. Rather to his detriment he miscalculated and snubbed his political opponents, thereby falling into the hands of the more superlative army.
The Egyptian army's strategic ‘political party’ is more accentuated than Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood party. The army without doubt is a political rivalry to Muslim Brotherhood. Never let their uniform and mannerism fool anybody, the army is a major stakeholder and the military top brass are not about to trade it for anything or for anybody. The army is clever, if not sophisticated and knows precisely what they want, what to do and how to get there.
President Morsi lopsided mind-set, naivete and ‘Johnny-just-arrive’ syndrome were his weakest link to his methodology of governance. Morsi never understands how to maximize his power and gain control of the situation. Take for instance, when the army gave him the 48 hours ultimatum, he misread the tea leaf and missed the opportunity to rally the public, thereby weakens the grip of the army. But rather he fell into their hands by coming across as dictatorial, stubbornly uncompromising and undemocratic.
Emeka Chiakwelu is an Analyst and Principal policy Strategist at AFRIPOL – Africa Political and Economic Strategic Center.
Egypt's Islamist president unilaterally decreed greater authorities for himself Thursday and effectively neutralized a judicial system that had emerged as a key opponent by declaring that the courts are barred from challenging his decisions.
Riding high on U.S. and international praise for mediating a Gaza cease-fire, Mohammed Morsi put himself above oversight and gave protection to the Islamist-led assembly writing a new constitution from a looming threat of dissolution by court order.
But the move is likely to fuel growing public anger that he and his Muslim Brotherhood are seizing too much power.
In what was interpreted by rights activists as a de facto declaration of emergency law, one of Morsi's decrees gave him the power to take "due measures and steps" to deal with any "threat" to the revolution, national unity and safety or anything that obstructs the work of state institutions.
Morsi framed his decisions as necessary to protect the revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak nearly two years ago and to cement the nation's transition to democratic rule. Many activists, including opponents of the Brotherhood, criticize the judiciary as packed with judges and prosecutors sympathetic to Mubarak. Brotherhood supporters accuse the courts of trying to block their agenda.
"He had to act to save the country and protect the course of the revolution," said one of Morsi's aides, Pakinam al-Sharqawi, speaking on Al-Jazeera. "It is a major stage in the process of completing the January 25th revolution," she said, alluding to the starting day of last year's uprising against Mubarak.
In a nod to revolutionary sentiment, Morsi also ordered the retrial of Mubarak and top aides on charges of killing protesters during the uprising. He also created a new "protection of the revolution" judicial body to swiftly carry out the prosecutions. But he did not order retrials for lower-level police acquitted of such killings, another widespread popular demand that would disillusion the security forces if carried out.
Liberal politicians immediately criticized the decrees as dictatorial and destined to divide a nation already reeling from months of turmoil following Mubarak's ouster. Some said they exceeded the powers once enjoyed by Mubarak.
"Morsi today usurped all state powers & appointed himself Egypt's new pharaoh," pro-reform leader Mohamed ElBaradei wrote on Twitter. "A major blow to the revolution that could have dire consequences."
ElBaradei later addressed a news conference flanked by other prominent politicians from outside the Brotherhood, including two presidential candidates who ran against Morsi, Amr Moussa and Hamdeen Sabahi.
They pledged to cooperate to force Morsi to rescind his assumption of greater powers. "We will work together as Egyptians until we achieve the goals of our revolution," said ElBaradei, a former director of the U.N.'s nuclear agency and Nobel peace laureate.
They called for mass protests Friday to demand the dissolution of the declarations. The audience interrupted the press conference, chanting "Down with the Guide's rule," referring to the Supreme Guide of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood group, Mohammed Badie.
The prospect of large rival protests involving Morsi's opponents and supporters in Cairo on Friday raises the likelihood of clashes.
Thousands from the rival camps were already out on the streets of Cairo late Thursday in an increasingly charged atmosphere.
A crowd of Brotherhood supporters massed outside the Supreme Court building and offices of the prosecutor general – whom Morsi removed in Thursday's edict. They chanted slogans for "the cleansing of the judiciary," shouting, "The people support the president's decisions." Leading Brotherhood member Mohammed el-Beltagi, attending the rally, singled out several critics of Morsi from among the ranks of the judiciary for criticism.
Meanwhile, blocks away near Tahrir Square, hundreds of demonstrators held a fourth straight day of protests against Morsi and the Brotherhood. "Brotherhood is banned from entry," declared a large banner at the protest.
Wael Ghonim, an icon of the anti-Mubarak uprising, rejected Morsi's decisions, arguing the president could have protected the revolution without concentrating so much power in his hands.
"The revolution was not staged in search for a benign dictator, there is a difference between revolutionary decisions and dictatorial decisions. God is the only one whose decisions are not questioned."
The Egyptian leader decreed that all decisions he has made since taking office in June and until a new constitution is adopted and a new parliament is elected cannot be appealed in court or by any other authority. Parliamentary elections are not likely before next spring.
The decree also barred the courts from dissolving the controversy-plagued assembly writing the new constitution. Several courts have been looking into lawsuits demanding the panel be disbanded.
The Brotherhood and Morsi allies who dominate the assembly have pushed to give the draft an Islamist slant that opponents fear would marginalize women and minority Christians, infringe on personal liberties and even give Muslim clerics a say in lawmaking. Liberal and Christian members withdrew from the assembly during the past week to protest what they say is the hijacking of the process by Morsi's allies.
Morsi on Thursday extended by two months, until February, the deadline for the assembly to produce a draft, apparently to give members more time to iron out their differences.
He also barred any court from dissolving the Islamist-led upper house of parliament, a largely toothless body that has also faced court cases.
The president made most of the changes Thursday in a declaration amending an interim constitution that has been in effect since shortly after Mubarak's fall and has over time become a ramshackle patchwork. The military, which took power after Mubarak, set the precedent for the executive unilaterally issuing constitutional changes, which it did several times during its 16-month rule.
The moves come as Morsi basks in lavish praise from President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for mediating an end to eight days of fighting between Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers. Clinton was in Cairo on Wednesday, when she held extensive talks with Morsi.
Morsi not only holds executive power, he also has legislative authority after a previous court ruling just before he took office on June 30 dissolved the powerful lower house of parliament, which was led by the Brotherhood. With two branches of power in his hands, Morsi effectively took away many prerogatives of the third, the judiciary.
The provision for a retrial of Mubarak appeared to be a gesture to public opinion. The decree called for "new investigations and trials" against those who held "political or executive" positions in the old regime and who are accused of killing protesters.
Mubarak was convicted in June to life in prison for failing to stop the killing of protesters during last year's uprising against his rule, but many Egyptians were angered that he wasn't convicted of actually ordering the crackdown and that his security chief, Habib el-Adly, was not sentenced to death. Several top police commanders were acquitted, and Mubarak and his sons were found not guilty of corruption charges.
But the decree would not mean retrials for the dozens of lower-level police officers who have been acquitted or received suspended sentences in trials for killing protesters – verdicts that have outraged many Egyptians. That exclusion will guarantee Morsi the loyalty of the powerful but hated police force.
Morsi on Thursday also fired the country's top prosecutor, Abdel-Maguid Mahmoud. A Mubarak-era appointee, Mahmoud has faced widespread accusations that his office did a shoddy job collecting evidence against Mubarak, el-Adly and the police in trials.
Morsi first fired Mahmoud in October but had to rescind his decision when he found that the powers of his office do not empower him to do so. So on Thursday, he decreed that the prosecutor general could serve in office only for four years, with immediate effect on Mahmoud, who had held the post since 2006. Morsi replaced Mahmoud with Talaat Abdullah, a career judge, and swiftly swore him in.
Thursday's decisions were read on state television by Morsi's spokesman, Yasser Ali. In a throwback to the days of the authoritarian Mubarak and his predecessors Anwar Sadat and Gamal Abdel-Nasser, the television followed up with a slew of nationalist songs.
AP correspondent Aya Batrawy contributed to this report.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has held her first meeting with Egypt's new Islamist president and says that America's "share strategic interests far outnumber our differences" with Cairo.
Clinton hoped to use the meeting to steer Mohammed Morsi toward opening a dialogue with the military that could end the country's political crisis. She said afterward that it is up to the Egyptians to decide the way ahead _ and that "requires dialogue and compromise, real politics."
Clinton also is voicing support for the democratically elected government and says the U.S. wants to help it be successful. THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton hoped to use her first meeting with Egypt's new Islamist president on Saturday to steer Mohammed Morsi toward opening a dialogue with the military that could end the country's political crisis.
Clinton's talks with Morsi at the presidential palace kicked off a series of high-level meetings aimed at stabilizing Egypt's democratic transition and its alliance with the United States, once rock-solid but now increasingly shaky.
They didn't shake hands, at least publicly, and their initial greeting was the subject of speculation because of Morsi's Muslim faith.
"Things change (at) kind of warped speed," Clinton told Morsi. The president, speaking in English, said, "We are very very keen to meet you and happy that you are here." Clinton and Morsi were seated perpendicular to one another, the American on a sofa and the Egyptian on a chair.
Her schedule also included sessions with the head of the military council, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, and the foreign minister, Mohamed Amr. Morsi is in the middle of a showdown with the generals who ruled Egypt for 16 months after President Hosni Mubarak's ouster and who handed power over to him on June 30. The generals retained far-reaching powers and stripped Morsi of many of his before they stepped down and he was inaugurated.
That move followed a decision last month by Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court to dissolve the Islamist-dominated parliament, the first democratically elected, after ruling that a third of its members were elected illegally. Morsi has issued a decree to bring lawmakers, many of whom are Morsi's allies in the Muslim Brotherhood, back into session.
The U.S. has been careful not to take sides, focusing on principles instead of personalities and parties. The Obama administration has called on all sides to negotiate a path forward that remains faithful to the ideals of Egypt's 2011 revolution. The message speaks to Washington's broader effort to build a new relationship with Egypt after three decades of close cooperation with Mubarak despite his abysmal record on democracy and human rights.
This has involved some uncomfortable changes for the U.S., including occasionally harsh criticism of once faithful partners in the Egyptian military and words of support for Islamist parties far more skeptical of the American agenda for the Middle East.
In her discussions, Clinton was expected to stress the need for Egypt to adhere to its 1979 peace treaty with Israel, while also seeking continued counterterrorism cooperation and offering U.S. support to help Cairo regain control of the increasingly lawless Sinai Peninsula _ a major security concern for Israel.
For Egypt's sake, Clinton was prepared to promise hundreds of millions of dollars in debt relief, private investment capital and job creation funds. She planned to tell Morsi that she was sending a large business delegation to Cairo in September to strengthen U.S.-Egyptian economic ties.
Clinton was to visit the port city of Alexandria on Sunday to meet with women and young entrepreneurs, and then was to head to Israel. Her stop in the Mideast comes after a weeklong trip to Asia, where she courted investments and sought democratic reforms from governments long seen as closer to China than the U.S.