Last Sunday, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi took control of Egypt with dictatorial powers, to everyone’s surprise. He now holds more power than the previous secular dictator Hosni Mubarak toward the last years of his reign.
No more Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (or SCAF). A newly appointed defense minister took the place of Mohamed Hussein Tantawi and a new Army Chief of Staff was substituted for Sami Anan. Also replaced were the commanders of each of the branches and members of the SCAF.
From the pious humbleness of asking Tantawi to make appointments last week to eliminating him from the military altogether in less than a week must be the devil’s work. The intelligence chief Mourad Muwafi was removed also; as was the head of military police and presidential guard.
Now Morsi assumes complete legislative and constitutional powers. In all of this the military concedes! The SCAF, the military, do not respond with even the slightest challenge of verbal sparring. The defense and security leadership step down without complaint.
This does not mean that the old guard is out of the picture completely. Tantawi and Anan, among others were offered other posts as honorary advisor and kept hold of their personal wealth. No doubt some arrangement hindering reprisals of Mubarak’s regime was made, but apparently the SCAF never intended to hold on to power like everyone thought. They have now collapsed at the sound of Morsi’s whip.
Will the transfer of unlimited power be seen as a betrayal by the military to the common people?
Will this surge in presidential power become a failure to protect the freedoms and future of Egypt from one dominating man and one dominant faction?
Will Morsi now ignore any and all legal rulings and censures form the courts, doing with them what he did to the SCAF?
Negative signs for the promised liberal Islamist democracy:
Single ruler in charge.
Single party in power circle. Little or no balance of power from the military.
No protections to any constitutional congress. No more checks on the final draft of the constitution by the former head of the SCAF, Mohamed Tantawi.
Morsi’s track record goes against plural politics and powering sharing from start to present. He is unwilling to work with military or the Supreme Constitutional Court.
Still wants an Islamic Egypt. Willing to trample remove all obstacles to accomplish this agenda.
Crack downs on media hostile to Morsi and the Brotherhood have already beginning to cause alarms.
Unwilling to put the needs of the people first. Lack of accountability to the fifty percent living on or below the poverty level. Water, power, food, jobs, and the economy are still in jeopardy.
Lack of representation to fifty percent of the voting population that did not vote for him (they voted for former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq who lost 52%-48%). They have zero representation and now have zero support from the military and the SCAF’s Constitutional Declaration marginalized.
Morsi appears free to do whatever he can get away with, with no checks and no balances from the secular opposition. Apparently, the military generals cared less about a smooth transition and decided to just give the President all of Egypt.
At least, this is the surface perspective. How much real control the military generals still have is a matter of uncertainty. It is still possible that certain figures in the military will act as “powers behind the throne” and let Morsi play the fall guy, but there is no evidence for this yet. The facts point to political concessions on the part of the military, not clandestine manipulation.
How did this happen?
A generational gap between the older and younger military officers has been the official explanation for the “natural” transfer of power. Defense Minister Tantawi, being 78 year old, was replaced by Major General Abdul Fatah al-Sissi, 58. Al-Sissi was the former head of military intelligence.
Is it possible that he is the new face representing the military and not representing Morsi? Maybe, but most likely not. It has also been suggested that there might have been a civilian-military coup to replace the SCAF. Morsi would have brokered a political deal with younger officers of ambition to oust their superiors. This new crowd would then hold on to military and perhaps economic powers while Morsi took more of the spot light and civilian powers for himself.
But are they loyal to the military? Is there still a “them” versus a “him”?
With Morsi, learn to expect the unexpected. Not expecting the spontaneous has been the problem of politically analyzing Mohamed Morsi and the failure to predict his impulsive, bold, sweeping attempts at power grabbing.
It seems that Morsi may have many more moves to make indeed and many more of the bureaucracy to fill. Only time will tell if he can be a fair populist or become an Islamist demagogue and theocrat?