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Morsi Applauded for Army Face-Off

Morsi Applauded for Army Face-Off Amr Nabil / AP Photo

By crowds in Tahrir.

After firing Egypt’s top general Sunday and canceling constitutional amendments that gave sweeping powers to the armed forces, President Mohamed Morsi was cheered by crowds in Tahrir Square on Sunday night. Morsi said in an address that his decision to clean house among the nation’s top brass was not motivated by personal animosities and added, “My aim was the benefit of this nation and its people.” Some have greeted the decision with skepticism, however, seeing it as the just the most recent blow landed in a power struggle between the country’s military and civilian leaders that began soon after the ouster of dictator Hosni Mubarak.

Read it at Al Jazeera

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Egyptian Revolution

‘Move First, and We Will Be There’

Protesters in Egypt brought down a president in July. But some in the opposition say the Army had been quietly urging them to take to the streets.

When Egypt’s Army chief, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, wanted mass demonstrations last week, he asked for them.

Egypt

Opponents to deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi hold portraits of Egyptian Army chief Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as they demonstrate in Cairo on July 26, 2013. (Fayez Nureldine/AFP/Getty)

Al-Sisi has cited the millions who protested against former president Mohamed Morsi as justification for ousting him July 3. Last Wednesday al-Sisi called the protesters back into action, asking Egyptians in a televised speech to stage rallies to give him a “mandate” to crack down on “terrorism”—which was understood to be a reference to Morsi’s supporters. Two days later the streets filled again.

Al-Sisi’s call last week added a stark new feature to Egypt’s ongoing crisis. But some anti-Morsi activists and politicians say the Army began encouraging protests behind the scenes long before al-Sisi was so publicly leading the charge. They say the Army sent messages to the opposition urging them to take to the streets—signaling that, if their numbers were big enough, the Army might take their side.

Some of Morsi’s backers have accused the Army of a conspiracy, saying that it helped along the same protests that sparked Morsi’s removal. But the anti-Morsi sources say the Army offered only moral support—which came in meetings with military officials and from intermediaries speaking on the Army’s behalf. This coincided with a public change in tone from Army leaders and spokesmen who made statements suggesting that its commitment to Morsi might be wavering.

The shift from the Army, both in public and in private, began early this year—at a time when public anger at Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood was widespread and growing, and many protesters were already calling for the generals to sweep them from power. Activists say the realization that the Army could help them oust Morsi was an important turning point in their battle against a president they viewed as increasingly authoritarian and bent on holding onto power at any cost.

Middle East

Egypt, a Nation Divided

Supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi are crying foul. But the real loser is not the Islamists, but the democratic process, says Barak Barfi.

On the dusty streets of Nasr City near the Raba’a al-Adawiyya mosque, Salah Issa Muhammad reclined against a rusty tent pole. “This is a revolt against the legal authority,” the lawyer asserted, denouncing the coup that deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi. On the other side of town in Tahrir Square, which has been the site of two revolutions in three years, Ahmad Mustafa celebrated the president’s ouster. “Morsi was a dictator who had to be removed,” he says.

Rabaa al Adweya Mosque

Supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi gather at the Raba’a al-Adawiyya mosque in Cairo’s Nasr City on July 6, 2013. (Ed Giles/Getty)

Egypt is a nation divided against itself. The Islamists who endured decades of oppression, and then took power through the ballet box, are aligned against a cabal of secular forces and elements of the ancien régime that propelled the army to strip them of their elected victory. As the two factions step up their war of rhetoric, the West has dithered. It desperately wants to stabilize a woefully unstable state, but is reluctant to intervene. But as the three sides of this wobbly triangle fight to gain the upper hand, the real loser will be democracy—followed by the disillusionment of a generation of youth who saw an electoral process reversed as quickly as it was instituted.

At the Raba’a al-Adawiyya mosque, where President Morsi’s supporters are camped out, those concerns are trivial. They are merely focused on reinstating their leader. “Morsi is our legitimately elected president,” Tala’a Faruq says. “No one has the right to remove him except through elections.” Morsi’s supporters emphasize their commitment to the electoral process. But the intricacies of democracy and coalition-building—concepts the president failed to grasp—are lost on the protesters here.  Instead, they largely repeat the slogans spewed out by those on stage.

In early July, The Daily Beast's Mike Giglio was in Tahrir Square to witness the roiling tumult.

Morsi’s supporters should be excused for their mechanical recitations of the party line, as democracy here is young. But the coup just dealt democracy a serious blow, and now an authoritarian state is once again using the state media to demonize Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood party. A commentator in the flagship daily al-Ahram compared the movement’s ways to those of the Devil, accusing the organization of packaging falsehood as truths.

Power Struggle

Don’t Forget the Brotherhood

In order for Egypt to move forward, the military needs to include the Brotherhood in the process. Khaled Elgindy on why the country must have reconciliation to survive.

The killing of some 50 Muslim Brotherhood supporters, allegedly at the hands of the Egyptian Army, marked a new low in the ongoing crisis surrounding the July 3 ouster of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. The crisis began ahead of mass protests on June 30 in which millions of Egyptians took to the streets to demand that Morsi step down, prompting the Egyptian military to remove Morsi by force. Since then, around a hundred Egyptians have been killed and several hundred more injured.

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A supporter of Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi protests with others in Cairo. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

While immediate responsibility for the current crisis undoubtedly rests with Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, the trajectory for recent events was set two and half years earlier. The latest bloodshed is the culmination of the highly dysfunctional political transition designed and overseen by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which took control of the country following the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, and is once again at the helm of the Egyptian state.

Thus, the SCAF’s decision to scrap the transition and start over is not only an indictment of its own mismanagement but a political failure on a grand scale. Since Mubarak’s ouster, Egypt’s social and political climate has grown increasingly divisive, acrimonious, and polarized, a dynamic often exacerbated by the SCAF’s blatant attempts to manipulate the political process. Thus, instead of consolidating Egypt’s path toward stability and democracy, the election of the country’s first civilian president in June 2012 and the adoption of a new constitution six months later only deepened the atmosphere of polarization and mutual de-legitimization.

From the outset, the Muslim Brotherhood showed every inclination of repeating and compounding the SCAF’s mistakes. Thus, when newly elected President Morsi issued his highly controversial “constitutional declaration,” placing his decisions beyond the reach of the courts, and rammed through a constitution over the objections of secular and liberal opposition groups in late 2012, he was merely following a precedent established by the SCAF.

For all its electoral success and mastery of retail politics, the Brotherhood has proven spectacularly inept at nearly all other aspects of politics. Even before Morsi was elected, the Brotherhood’s record of broken promises and reputation for rank opportunism managed to burn bridges across the political landscape. After only a year in power, Morsi and the Brotherhood had managed to alienate what few political allies they still had while picking fights with the judiciary and other government institutions.

The White House has yet to deem the military’s decision to wrest control from Egypt’s elected leader a coup. Eli Lake and Josh Rogin report.

Despite a series of private and public warnings in the last 48 hours from top Obama administration officials to Egypt’s generals not to depose the country’s first elected leader, the military sprung into action Wednesday and unseated the Muslim Brotherhood–aligned president, Mohamed Morsi.

APTOPIX Mideast Egypt

Military special forces stand guard on a street in Cairo. (Khalil Hamra/AP)

The actions from the military lay bare the limited influence the Obama administration has over the leadership of an Egyptian military that gets $1.3 billion a year in aid from the United States and relies on American spare parts and training to function, while also perhaps suggesting that the private warnings delivered from top Obama officials like Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel could have been stronger.

“There was a press to avoid the kind of turbulence we have seen today,” one U.S. official involved in reacting to the crisis in Egypt tells The Daily Beast. “But the jury is out on precisely what the next steps are. We will see what the process as defined by the military and their statement leads to.”

In public, the Obama administration Wednesday was careful not to take sides in the political conflict that has subsumed Egypt in the last three days. Nonetheless, Obama condemned the military coup and said his administration would begin to review its foreign aid to Egypt in light of the events.

“We are deeply concerned by the decision of the Egyptian armed forces to remove President Morsi and suspend the Egyptian Constitution,” Obama said in a statement Wednesday evening. Nonetheless, Obama did not call directly on the military to return Morsi to power. Instead he said, “I now call on the Egyptian military to move quickly and responsibly to return full authority back to a democratically elected civilian government as soon as possible through an inclusive and transparent process and to avoid any arbitrary arrests of President Morsi and his supporters.”

Citizen Journalists

Six Egypt Bloggers to Follow

As Cairo is gripped by protests, real news junkies know to go straight to the source. From a YouTube pro to a half-British cynic, these citizen journos help make sense of the chaos.

Once again, Egypt’s Tahrir Square is a hotbed of revolution.

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Clockwise from top left: Egyptian bloggers Maikel Nabil, Sarah Abdelrahman, SandMonkey, and an image from the blog of Soraya Morayef. (AP (2);Getty (1))

For the past week, thousands of protesters have faced off with security forces, some resorting to violence in frustration over a government that just can’t seem to reach consensus. President Mohamed Morsi has been weakened. Egypt’s army chief has warned of “collapse.” Cars are burning in the streets.

Since the revolution that took out Hosni Mubarak two years ago, the story of Egypt has been complicated and fast-moving; many U.S. news organizations continue to rely on Twitter and blogs run by citizen journalists for the most up-to-date information. And while these documentarians’ reporting may have made it into your morning paper, you seldom learn their names.

Here, with the help of those in the know, The Daily Beast has compiled a list of the top six Egyptian bloggers you should be following right now. As it turns out, the majority of them are women.

Egyptian Shakeup

Morsi’s Risky Palace Coup

By firing the armed forces chief and other key members of the SCAF, Morsi is showing his power, but the move could backfire against the president, who is losing credibility with some Egyptians, and faces a crucial challenge in the Sinai.

Egypt’s president, Mohamed Morsi, proved the power of his might Sunday with a shakeup both rumored and surprising to many—sacking the head of the military, Egypt’s de facto ruler throughout the transition period, and several other key members of the distrusted Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.  

Morsi resolved to scrap a constitutional document that handed sweeping powers and autonomy to Egypt's military and ordered the retirement of Hussein Tantawi, defense minister and commander of the armed forces, and Chief of Staff Sami Anan, awarding both men state medals and appointing them presidential advisers. He also made his highly anticipated selection of vice president, naming Senior Judge Mahmoud Mekki as his deputy.

While many saw the expanding powers of the military as an attempt to hijack the revolution, the shuffle comes amid a violent standoff with militants on the Sinai Peninsula near the border with Gaza, and an overall lapse in security nationwide. Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt’s first civilian president, was viewed by many as nothing more than a figurehead, since measures taken by the military left little room for a second-in-charge. This latest move leaves many observers questioning whether Morsi’s ability to seize authority had been underestimated.

“This is a palace coup and a very risky one,” said Paul Sullivan, a North Africa expert at National Defense University. “Firing most of the SCAF is a bold move that could backfire at Morsi. He has been losing credibility with the Egyptian public since his election. The Sinai attack was seen by many in Egypt as a sign of Morsi's weakness, not the military and intelligence people. Now he is trying to turn the tables on them.”

The military, which had presided over state affairs since Hosni Mubarak’s resignation in February 2011, had suffered a severe decline in public opinion following a number of violent clashes with protesters that provoked a bitter outcry. An 11th-hour court decision ahead of the presidential election dissolved the country’s Islamist-dominated parliament, leaving Morsi with no new constitution and no legislature when he assumed office on June 30. The decree also left much of the country’s budget—specifically its defense budget—under the autonomous control of the military council. The rulings sparked fury among citizens, who took to Tahrir Square once again, accusing the military of a soft coup.

Mideast Egypt

President Mohammed Morsi, second from right, talks with Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, second left, as they attend a military graduation ceremony with Prime Minister Kamal el-Ganzouri, left, and Chief of Staff Sami Anan, right, in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, July 17, 2012. (Sheriff Abd El Minoem / AP Photo)

Allies

Clinton Meets Morsi

As Egypt’s new president quarrels with the military and court, Hillary Clinton visited Cairo and pledged that the U.S. supports the transition to democracy. Vivian Salama reports.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrapped up a two-day visit to Cairo on Sunday, the first since Egypt’s historic presidential election won by an Islamist candidate, potentially reshaping ties between these old allies against the backdrop of a rapidly changing Arab world.

Clinton cautiously reaffirmed America’s commitment to Egypt’s power transfer as a recent tug of war between newly elected President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood and the country’s top generals seemed to lodge the transition in limbo. She urged the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to fully support a handover to civilian rule while pressing Morsi to maintain his commitment to establishing a democratic state.

“Egyptians are in the midst of complex negotiations about the transition, from the composition of your Parliament to the writing of a new constitution to the powers of the president,” Clinton said at the joint conference with Egypt’s Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr. “Only Egyptians can answer these questions, but I have come to Cairo to reaffirm the strong support of the United States for the Egyptian people and for your democratic transition.”

Morsi, who was officially named Egypt’s first postrevolution president on June 24, has pledged to empower the Egyptian people, taking on the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which has served as the interim ruler since former president Hosni Mubarak’s resignation last year. Days after assuming office, he reinstated the Islamist-dominated Parliament dissolved by the high court only days before the presidential election. The court overrode the decision, but Morsi defied the order, calling on Parliament to convene, heightening tensions in a country frail from unrelenting disquiet.

A staunch ally of Mubarak’s, the United States has been impelled to evolve with the Arab world, engaging with Islamist groups it once shunned and hedging its bets with governments that bear no track record. Clinton highlighted that despite America’s support of the Mubarak regime, it was consistent in advocating human rights and calling for an end to Egypt’s oppressive emergency law. In a meeting with Morsi on Saturday, she urged the president to take minority groups into consideration amid fears that the Muslim Brotherhood and hardline Salafi Islamists would clamp down on civil rights and restrict religious freedoms in the country of 82 million people.

Prominent members of the Coptic and Evangelical churches, including billionaire Naguib Sawiris, declined an invitation to meet with Clinton, rejecting a perceived interference by the U.S. in Egypt's internal affairs.

Much Ado About Little

Egypt’s Overhyped Showdown

President Mohamed Morsi made a big deal of convening the country’s dissolved Parliament, but it was less a confrontation with the military than political theater designed to shore up flagging Muslim Brotherhood support.

Tuesday in Cairo was a moment for grand political theater and big dramatic gestures. It also was a day whose subtext was just as revealing as anything that happened in public.

Here’s what transpired on the surface: The Muslim Brotherhood staged a showy and symbolic convening of the People’s Assembly, in open defiance of both the country’s Supreme Constitutional Court and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. (An SCC verdict last month dissolved the four-month-old Brotherhood-dominated legislature on an electoral technicality that was swiftly enforced by the SCAF.)

Tuesday’s rebel parliamentary session was short and sweet—lasting less than 15 minutes and consisting of Speaker Mohamed Saad El-Katatni announcing that the whole parliamentary question would be referred to the Court of Cassation, the country’s highest appeals court. Then the Brotherhood headed two blocks away to Tahrir Square for a mass public rally designed to emphasize their popular support. Within hours of the parliamentary session, the Supreme Constitutional Court had publicly struck back, invalidating President Mohamed Morsi’s decree to reopen the Parliament in the first place.

Taken at face value, the day’s events equate to a public declaration of war between the MB and the SCAF—which, according to the court ruling, now holds legislative authority. The Parliament was reinstated by a presidential decree from Morsi, a longtime Muslim Brotherhood senior official. In the process, Morsi essentially created a scenario where Egypt’s executive branch is openly challenging the authority of the judicial branch over the future and legitimacy of the legislative branch. That’s a catastrophe for any country, much less one as fragile and fractured as modern Egypt.

The likely truth, however, is far less dramatic. For starters, neither side went as far as it could have. The SCAF, which has recently barred members of Parliament from entering the chamber, avoided a public showdown and let the session happen. Meanwhile, the Brotherhood made it clear they respected the Egyptian judiciary and would not be holding any further wildcat parliamentary sessions while their appeal was pending.

“I want to stress, we are not contradicting the ruling, but looking at a mechanism for the implementation of the ruling of the respected court. There is no other agenda today,” Katatni said.

DEMOCRACY

Egypt's Parliament to Meet Tuesday

Egypt's Parliament to Meet Tuesday Ed Giles / Getty Images

Despite the Supreme Court ruling its closure "final."

Egypt's parliament is set to meet on Tuesday, after President Morsi ordered the body to reconvene. The parliament will meet in spite of the Supreme Court's ruling on Monday, which called the decision to dissolve parliament last month "final and not subject to appeal." Parliment speaker Saad al-Katatni explained that the lower house would sit at noon on Tuesday and that the body plans to discuss "how to implement the court ruling." One European diplomatic source said, "The test will come when we see how the soldiers guarding the parliament building behave when MP's try to convene."  

Read it at Reuters

Managing Decline

Obama’s Wise Egypt Policy

Foreign policy often consists of helping to broker outcomes that are merely bad, not catastrophic. Had Obama tried to preserve a repressive regime willing to do America’s bidding, things in Egypt would be even worse than they are now.

Wouldn’t it be great if campaigns offered honest slogans, ones that told you the real reason to vote for their gal or guy? For the Romney campaign, a truly honest slogan would be something like: “Don’t worry, he doesn’t believe a lot of the stupid stuff he says.” For the Obama campaign it would be: “He’s managed America’s decline well.”

The Obama folks will never publicly admit that American power is in decline, but if you compare America’s international position today to its position in the late 1990s, the trajectory is obvious. In Bill Clinton’s second term, the U.S. was flush with cash, its military was coming off victories in the Gulf War, Bosnia, and Kosovo, governments across the world were embracing American-style deregulated capitalism, and America dwarfed its geopolitical rivals. Today, by contrast, America is deep in debt, its military is battered and exhausted, its economic ideology enjoys far less prestige, and it faces, in China, a genuine second superpower. Managing this reality has been the central foreign policy challenge of Barack Obama’s first term, and although his campaign can’t say so, he’s done a pretty good job.

A good example is Egypt. Since the 1970s, it has been a pillar of American dominance in the Middle East. Egyptian dictators made peace with Israel, cooperated with American-led efforts to force the Palestinians to do the same, and helped America battle various leftist and Islamist foes. Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak weren’t perfect clients, to be sure. They indulged, and even fostered, anti-American and anti-Israeli sentiment at home, and their repression and corruption sometimes proved embarrassing. But for more than three decades, Egypt was led by men far more supportive of U.S. policy than were the people they ruled.

That’s less true today. Obama has taken heat for our declining influence in Cairo, with some conservatives saying he is partly to blame for “losing Egypt.” But Obama didn’t “lose Egypt,” because America never really had it. Ordinary Egyptians never embraced the alliance with the United States, because that alliance brought them neither freedom nor prosperity. What Obama “lost” was a regime willing to do America’s bidding despite its people’s desires, and had he tried to preserve that in the face of revolutionary change, things in Egypt would be even worse than they are today.

Obama Health Care Legacy

President Barack Obama speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington on June 29, after the Supreme Court ruled on his health-care legislation. (Luke Sharrett / AP Photo)

Since the Arab Spring came to Cairo 18 months ago, Obama has faced two key moments of decision. And at both points, his willingness to accept Egypt’s emerging, post-American order has served Egypt, and America, well. The first moment came when Egypt’s masses flooded into the streets early last year demanding that Mubarak resign. From the Gulf to Israel to the GOP, conservatives chastised Obama for not standing more firmly behind America’s old ally. But had Obama invited Mubarak to turn Tahrir Square into Tiananmen Square, Egypt might look more like Syria today. The opposition would likely have turned violent, Egypt’s chances for an even semi-democratic transition would have collapsed, and by aiding a mass slaughter, Obama would have virtually guaranteed the hatred of whatever revolutionary force ultimately succeeded the 84-year-old dictator.

EGYPT


Islamist Morsi Sworn In


Islamist Morsi Sworn In
 Amr Nabil / AP Photo

First freely elected leader.

Mohamed Morsi was sworn in Saturday as Egypt’s first freely elected president and the first to take power since ruler Hosni Mubarak was deposed last year. The Islamist president-elect held a rally in Tahrir Square on Friday ahead of his inauguration, saying that as president he would work to free Omar Abdel-Rahman, the “blind sheik” imprisoned in the United States. Morsi, a 60-year-old member of the Muslim Brotherhood, arrived at Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court for his official swearing-in ceremony at 11 a.m. local time Saturday. "We aspire to a better tomorrow, a new Egypt, and a second republic," Morsi said in his official speech.

Read it at Associated Press


Revolution

Egypt’s Ultraconservative First Lady

While Mubarak’s wife, Suzanne, was a Westernized elitist, Naglaa Ali—who wears a veil and doesn’t do interviews—is a change for Cairo. Vivian Salama on Mohamed Morsi’s mysterious wife.

Naglaa Ali wears little makeup and dons a khimar, an Islamic veil that completely covers the hair and falls loosely to the waist. Ali wasn’t well known in Egypt. That is, until she joined her husband Mohamed Morsi for a tour of Cairo’s presidential palace.

Less than a week before Egypt’s first Islamist president officially assumes office, the nation’s attention has turned to his wife. Until recently, Egypt’s soon-to-be first lady was a mystery to those her husband would soon rule. She rarely accompanied Morsi on his nationwide campaign, and she had done virtually no interviews.

Egyptian First Lady Naglaa Ali Mahmoud

Egypt’s ultraconservative First Lady Naglaa Ali (inset), the wife of newly elected Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, is a change for Cairo. (Ahmad Hammad / AP Photo)

As informal exit polls hinted at Morsi’s win over Ahmed Shafiq, a stalwart of the former regime, Egyptians got a first look at Ali after a few photos went viral on social media and Egyptian news websites. The image sparked heated discussions over whether her ultraconservative appearance is suitable to represent Egypt in a diplomatic arena—a stark contrast from her predecessors, including the now-notorious Suzanne Mubarak, a Westernized elitist who reportedly used her husband’s power to amass a personal fortune of as much as $3.3 million.

Born in Cairo in 1962, Ali was 17 when she married Morsi—her first cousin, a common practice in the Arab world. The couple relocated to the United States shortly after they wed, where Morsi completed his doctorate in engineering at the University of Southern California and later worked as a professor at California State University, Northridge. Ali, who trained as a translator, gave birth to two of their five children while living in the U.S. It was there that she was first enthralled with the grassroots work of the Muslim Brotherhood and became an active member of the organization, engaging in charity work, primarily with a focus on education.

In one of the only interviews she has given to date, she reportedly said she prefers to be called “Oum Ahmed” (the Mother of Ahmed) by the Egyptian people—a traditional designation referring to her eldest son. She also said that she is opposed to living in the presidential palace formerly inhabited by the Mubaraks, and would instead prefer to buy a house in Cairo, suitable for entertaining large groups.

VEEP

Egypt to Appoint Woman VP

Egypt to Appoint Woman VP AFP / Getty Images

According to Mohamed Morsi’s policy adviser.

Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president, plans to appoint a female vice president. His policy adviser Ahmed Deif said: “For the first time in Egyptian history—not just modern but in all Egyptian history—a woman will take that position. And it’s not just a vice president who will represent a certain agenda and sect, but a vice president who is powerful and empowered and will be taking care of critical advising within the presidential Cabinet.” Morsi had previously wanted to ban women from the presidency, but before the election, he promised to stand for women’s rights if he became president.

Read it at CNN

After Mubarak

Morsi’s Great Burden

As Tahrir Square celebrations fade, the Islamist president must confront his fiercest opponent—the military. Vivian Salama on whether Mohamed Morsi can bring change to Egypt.

With millions of people still flooding the streets of Egypt in a frenzied celebration over the results of the historic presidential election, Mohamed Morsi delivered his first televised address to the nation. Standing behind a tall podium marked with the presidential seal only hours after he was named the winner, he called for national reconciliation between fractured political powers. Morsi vowed to be president to all Egyptians in an effort to win the confidence of the 12 million people who voted for his opponent, Ahmed Shafiq, and the disenfranchised millions who abstained from casting a ballot. “I am aware of the challenges which face us now, but I'm sure if we work together, with your support, we will be able to pass through this transitional moment,” Morsi said in his victory speech.

Egyptians Celebrate the Victory of Mohammed Morsi

Egyptians celebrate the victory of Mohamed Morsi in Cairo's Tahrir Square, June 25, 2012. (Thomas Hartwell / AP Photo)

The roller-coaster presidential race now behind him, Morsi, 60, must confront his fiercest opponent yet: the military. Days before the electoral runoff, the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) took several measures to consolidate power and limit civil rights, sparking outrage that drew tens of thousands of protesters back to Tahrir Square and around the nation. The Islamist-dominated parliament was dissolved a mere two days before voters went to the polls. The military also passed a decree stating that it—and not the president—will preside over the national budget, particularly with regard to defense. (Egypt receives $1.3 billion annually in military aid from the U.S.) Finally, it ruled that military officers can arrest civilians—a decision that was overturned Tuesday in an early victory for Morsi. The move kicked off the latest phase of Egypt's revolution under conditions of great uncertainty, with no parliament, no constitution, and a preemptively weakened president.

Mohamed Morsi wins Egypt's election

Agreeing on the fundamental principles that will guide Egypt’s future may be easier than finding the people to implement them. Boycotts and bitter allegations tarnished initial efforts to form a constitutional committee. The makeup of the panel has been a sore spot for secular activists and politicians after the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party and the more hardline Al Nour Party claimed most of the seats. After months of wrangling, a new assembly was named just days before the presidential election, including representatives from most political parties, the country’s Islamic and Christian institutions, formerly jailed opposition members—even actors and artists.

The 100-member multiparty committee has already begun its work ahead of Morsi’s July 1 inauguration in an effort to rewrite the constitution with greater emphasis on a balance of powers between the executive, legislative, and judicial branches and the military. Defining the role of the president is particularly urgent as Morsi prepares to take office, with questions still lingering over term limits, whether or not he should have legislative powers, and his dynamic with the military. The military last week issued an "addendum" to a constitutional declaration written last year, stating that it can dissolve the constituent assembly if the governing body confronts any hurdles. 

Egyptians went to the polls May 23–24 to pick a democratically elected president—not only the first election since the fall of Hosni Mubarak, but the first of its kind in the country's 5,000-year history.

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