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Friday, July 05, 2013
"Bye Bye, Morsi"
It's been rather amazing to
The enormous crowds of millions
and millions in Tahrir Square and elsewhere in Egypt -- some say this was the
biggest demonstration in history. Filled with fury at Morsi and his regime. Close
to 50 people died in the violence that ensued with those
And then, when the army moved in,
the way in which the rage turned to cheers of jubilation, partying and the
setting off of fireworks.
Credit: Amr Nabil,
The will of the people seems clear
here (although I qualify this, just as bit, for there are many more millions who
were not in the street than the several million who were.)
It took one year for Morsi to be
The claim on the part of the
Muslim Brotherhood is that they are victims of an illegal coup that has
overturned a democratically elected government. But the reality is that,
while there were elections, once Morsi was in office, he moved to strengthen the
Brotherhood in all aspects of the government -- ignoring urgent needs of
the nation and establishing a very repressive regime. It was
repressive with regard to political enemies, but most specifically and
horrendously so with regard to the Coptic Christians.
To refer to what went on in the
Morsi administration as "democratic" would be stretching it more than a
At present, the UN and the
international community more broadly are shying away from use of the term
"coup," which implies illegitimacy. For it seems clear that what has taken
place is what the people want.
What must be watched carefully is
what will happen with regard to funding of Egypt, primarily by the US, but
also by other nations and the EU. The country is on the brink of financial
Morsi -- who is being held in
a military compound along with key Brotherhood leaders -- was overthrown
yesterday after he refused military demands that he share power. He made
statements about preferring to die rather than compromise when he had been
Countering this, senior armed
forces commanders took an oath:.
"We swear to God that we
will sacrifice our blood for Egypt and its people against all terrorists,
extremists and the ignorant,"
That's quite an oath. The
military means business.
Defense Minister and military
chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi -- who led the oath -- announced that
the constitution that had been passed by Morsi's Islamist allies in December
would be frozen for up to 12 months, giving time for a new one to be drawn up
and passed by referendum. This constitutional change is slated
to take place before presidential and parliamentary elections are
held. Presumably, the constitution will govern the form of those
elections. Precisely who will draft this new constitution is not
In any event, presidential
elections will be held earlier than had been scheduled under the Morsi regime;
in the interim, the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court, Adly al-Mansour,
will lead the nation, joined by a military figure.
Al-Mansour had just been sworn in
as head of the Supreme Constitutional Court days before al-Sisi appointed
him. He is a virtual political unknown, although, according to Israel
Hayom, former Shin Bet chief Avi Dichter said Mansour was "Mubarak's
man in Saudi Arabia."
Egyptian military jets --
demonstrating full military support -- flew in formation as al-Mansour took his
When al-Sisi made his announcement on state television, opposition leader
Mohamed ElBaradei (pictured below) sat with him. Elbaradei, an attorney,
was IAEA Director General from 1997 to 2009.
Also present were Dr. Ahmed el-Tayeb, Grand Imam of
al-Azhar (Sunni Islam's highest seat of
learning), and Coptic Pope Tawadros II. Their presence was
designed to demonstrate civilian support for the military action. But it
also set a new tone in terms of non-Islamist participation -- and most
dramatically with regard to the Coptic Church.
The Egyptian street is quiet now and the army is clearly in control.
It has deployed wherever there was concern about unrest. This refers mainly
to Brotherhood strongholds, but includes, for example, the border
between the Sinai and Gaza (to preclude Hamas infiltration and
Credit: Times of Israel
The Brotherhood is down. The question is whether they are out.
To hear them tell it, they are not. It remains to be seen.
Properly, Israel, while watching the situation very closely as it unfolds,
is making no comment about what is happening in Egypt. That does not
mean there are no opinions in the government, of course.
As Israel Hayom explained it:
"For Israel, a leadership made up of military generals, who understand the
importance of preserving good relations with the U.S., is more approachable than
a leadership with religious leanings." More precisely: radical,
fundamental religious leanings.
From where I sit, the current situation offers the possibility of
a considerable improvement over the Brotherhood regime. I'm delighted to
see its failure.
The military tilts in a more westward direction and is far more likely
to honor the peace treaty with Israel. What is more, this should cut
Brotherhood support for Hamas, have an effect on what goes on in the Sinai
(with regard to controlling terrorist elements there), and possibly have a
dampening effect on Brotherhood efforts in other places. (Some are already
speaking about the domino effect of the Brotherhood coming down in Egypt, but I
think it's too soon for such presumptions.)
AlBaradei's name is being advanced as a candidate for president down
the road. The man was a headache when he headed the IAEA, and he certainly
is no friend to Israel. But neither is he Muslim Brotherhood -- sworn
to Israel's destruction and a world-wide caliphate.
Another name being bandied about is that of Amr Moussa. who served as
secretary general of the Arab League. Definitely not a friend of Israel.
The point is that we're not going to see crowds dancing in Tahrir
Square with Israeli flags any time soon. We'll have to take what we can
get. Mubarak was not a great lover of Israel either, but we were able
to reach an accommodation with him.
A major issue that remains to be played out is whether
the military will step back enough to allow for some genuine democratic
process, or if it will revert to the control that constituted Egypt from Nasser
through Mubarak. Mubarak's regime was a repressive military regime; he
went down when the army abandoned him.
The benefit to the nation right now of such a military regime, with all of
its negative aspects, is that it can confer stability. One of the
greatest worries in Egypt now is the specter of on-going chaos, which
would render the country literally ungovernable. As it is
already on the verge of bankruptcy, only strong management can bring it
around. A situation in which millions of people are without enough to
eat is unthinkable, but it must be thought.
It is in this sense that the possibility of destabilization by the
Brotherhood is particularly worrisome.
One thing can be said with reasonable certainty: Although his
situation is not exactly good, we can assume that Mubarak had a good laugh
See Daniel Pipes on "Delight and worry about Egypt" (emphasis added):
"Delight is easy to explain. What appears to have been the largest
political demonstration in history uprooted the arrogant Islamists of
Egypt who ruled with near-total disregard for anything other than consolidating
their own power. Islamism, the drive to apply a medieval Islamic law
and the only vibrant radical utopian movement in the world today,
experienced an unprecedented repudiation. Egyptians showed an inspiring
"If it took 18 days to overthrow
Hosni Mubarak in 2011, just four were needed to overthrow Morsi this past
"My worry is more complex. The historical record shows that the thrall of
radical utopianism endures until calamity sets in...
"In the case of Islamism, this...process has already begun...
"But I fear that the quick military removal of the Muslim Brotherhood
government will exonerate Islamists...
"In short, my joy at Morsi's
departure is more than offset by my concern that the lessons of his misrule will
not be learned...."
And then, Dan Margalit, writing about "Obama's hope of a moderate
brotherhood dashed" (emphasis added):
"...The United States is
celebrating 237 years of independence on Thursday. That the downfall of the
Muslim Brotherhood took place on this day is charged with symbolism.U.S. President Barack Obama has actively contributed to the mirage of
Egyptian democracy under the Muslim Brotherhood that has developed in the wake
of his Cairo Address in 2009, after which he abandoned his ally, former
President Hosni Mubarak.
"Obama threw his support behind
Morsi, dismissing reports that his election was rigged, because he believed the
Muslim Brotherhood's voice was the voice of the Egyptian street.
"Obama was convinced that there were
moderates in the Muslim Brotherhood. He envisioned a Turkish-style democracy
emerging in Egypt, only to discover that Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip
Erdogan was constantly obstructing the American bandwagon's path...
"The Muslim Brotherhood's
failure was inevitable; it had nothing meaningful to offer to the tens
of millions of starved, unemployed Egyptians or those who, despite their
academic backgrounds, are now aimlessly wandering the streets.
"Morsi's departure dashed the
romantic hope that there was someone inside the Muslim Brotherhood you could do
From this I can segue into my closing comments. Yes, how
strange...fireworks in Egypt and fireworks in America.
I am well aware that today is the Fourth of July. I am, after all, an
American by birth and breeding. I have long been proud of what the America
I knew has stood for. It remains part of who I am.
Of course, I wish all my American readers a Happy Fourth.
And yet...yet...I also grieve. Because the America I knew -- and what it
stood for -- seems to be no more. This has been a very frightening thing for me
-- and for many of you who write and tell me what you see in America.
I have documented -- and will continue to document -- the changes in
my postings and I know that my distress is palpable.
And so, today, on the Fourth, my prayer is that America will find herself
before it is too late.
The pictures below of the Egyptian street of a few days ago were not
seen in mainstream media sources. But they should be seen by all
Americans. They might provide a wake-up call:
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