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.