In a news analysis for JTA, Uriel Heilman writes: Egypt’s military coup is now nearly complete.
That may be distressing for Egyptian democracy, but it could help the Israel-Egypt relationship.
Sunday’s decision by military rulers in Egypt to rewrite the country’s constitution – a move that strips much of the power of the Egyptian presidency — confirms what many skeptics had warned about since Hosni Mubarak was deposed in February 2011: This wasn’t so much a revolution as a military coup.
It was the Egyptian army that played the decisive role during the 2011 uprising, siding with the people against the regime and overthrowing Mubarak. It was the military’s leaders who then assumed control of the country. And it was the army that again intervened this week in the middle of a presidential election that would have delivered control of the country to the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, Mohamed Morsi.
A few days before this weekend’s presidential vote, in which Morsi edged Ahmed Shafik, a former Mubarak-era prime minister and air force general, the military dissolved the country’s Islamic Brotherhood-dominated parliament. It did so by declaring that up to one-third of the legislators were elected illegally. The Brotherhood controlled 47 percent of seats in the body after Islamist parties captured more than 65 percent of the votes In Egypt’s first real democratic elections six months ago.
The moves against the parliament and the presidency make clear that Egypt’s military rulers are unwilling to cede power to a democratically elected government, especially if elections empower the Muslim Brotherhood.
“With this document, Egypt has completely left the realm of the Arab Spring and entered the realm of military dictatorship,” Hossam Bahgat, director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, said in widely quoted comments.
“It is a soft military coup that unfortunately many people will support out of fear of an Islamist takeover of the state,” Bahgat told The Associated Press.
That may be bad news for democracy and the Egyptian revolution, but it could be good for Israel.