Morsi’s wrongheaded power grab

David Rohde writes: After helping end the fighting in Gaza, impressing President Barack Obama, and negotiating a $4.8 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has fallen victim to what Bill Clinton calls “brass.”

Morsi’s hubristic post-Gaza power grab on Thursday was politically tone deaf, strategic folly and classic over-reach. It will deepen Egypt’s political polarization, scare off desperately needed foreign investment and squander Egypt’s rising credibility in the region and the world.

Television images of renewed clashes in Cairo, Alexandria, Port Said, and Suez will play into stereotypes that the Middle East is not ready for democracy. They will bolster suspicions inside and outside Egypt that the Muslim Brotherhood cannot be trusted.

I disagree with the skeptics and believe democracy can still be established in Egypt. But Morsi’s moves won’t help Egypt make the difficult transition.

“There was a disease but this is not the remedy,” Hassan Nafaa, a liberal political science professor and activist at Cairo University, told Reuters Friday. “We are going towards more polarization between the Islamist front on one hand and all the others on the other. This is a dangerous situation.”

An alarming dynamic is taking hold in Egypt. Power-grabs, brinksmanship and walk-outs are becoming the norm, as a bitter struggle plays out among newly empowered Islamists, vestiges of the Mubarak regime and the country’s deeply divided liberals. Political paralysis is the result — with rule by presidential decree, overreach by the judiciary, and a deadlocked constitutional assembly. As polarization deepens, desperately needed economic, political, and judicial reforms stall.

Friday’s street protests were relatively small compared to the massive Arab spring demonstrations.. But the trend is in the wrong direction. [Continue reading…]

The Guardian adds: Egypt’s most senior judges have condemned President Mohamed Morsi for granting himself sweeping new powers which they say amount to an “unprecedented assault” on the independence of the judiciary.

The supreme judicial council said work would be suspended in all courts and prosecution offices until the decree passed by the president earlier this week was reversed.

The announcement by the top judges, most of whom were appointed by former President Hosni Mubarak, came after tens of thousands of Egyptians took to the streets on Friday to protest against Morsi’s decree.

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2 thoughts on “Morsi’s wrongheaded power grab

  1. Renfro

    I am not that bothered by this…unless…it becomes permanent. And if wasn’t for the fact that Morsi was in the Brotherhood the nattering might be different and admiring of ‘these emergancy measures” he was taking to keep Egypt from up ending….mainly economicaly. There are still members of the former Mubarak regime that are trying to reverse the revolution and are tying to tank Morsi any way they can…and the ones in the Egytian court needed to go. A revolution is a revolution after all…revolutions are beginings, not endings…..they don’t operate perfectly the next or even after an election.
    Morsi has got to navigate the Brotherhood, the revolutionaries, the old Mubarak cronies, the US, Israel, now Hamas as well, the other Arab countries and a economy that has to be saved to avoid another revolution…..I’d give myself some f’ing kingly powers too to deal with all that.

  2. delia ruhe

    It’s not that the Middle East isn’t ready for democracy; it’s that the Brotherhood has a problem with it. This too shall pass. We knew when the Arab Spring began that it would take a long time to get sorted out. I mean, look at post-Soviet Russia. Given that the IMF now has its finger in the pie, Egypt may well have to go through a phase not unlike what Argentina and Bolivia and other South American state had to — and Bolivia still isn’t out of the woods.

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