Military Power Grab Eclipses Egyptian Islamists’ Declared Presidential Victory (FrontPageMagazine.com) By Ryan Mauro 06/19/12)
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The Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi and former Prime Minister
Ahmed Shafiq, a secularist, have both claimed victory in Egypt’s
presidential race and each are accusing each other of cheating. It
now matters little who is declared the victor, as the ruling Supreme
Council of the Armed Forces seized power over the past week and
relegated the presidency to little more than a figurehead.
The latest tally shows Morsi with a thin victory of 51% to Shafiq’s
49%. Thousands of Hamas supporters filled Palestinian streets after
Morsi declared victory with the Hamas Prime Minister expressing his
hope that Egypt will now “bolster the resistance of the Palestinian
people.” Shafiq’s campaign is accusing the Muslim Brotherhood
of “hijacking the election” and said its data shows “beyond all
doubt” that he won. Shafiq is contesting the preliminary result.
The Shafiq campaign said that election observers have “spotted
massive violations from Morsi’s campaign” and that the Brotherhood
prematurely declared victory “in order to be able to claim vote-
rigging when Shafiq wins.” The Egyptian Coalition for Election
Observation has submitted reports of election violations in each
side’s favor, specifically ballot-stuffing, vote-buying, ground
transportation of supporters, clashes and illegal campaigning.
The Morsi campaign has also filed complaints of “soft fraud.” It says
its observers have proof that ballots were printed that already had
Shafiq selected and that votes were casted by the deceased and
members of the security forces which are not permitted to vote.
The election took place as Islamic terrorists attacked Israel from
the Sinai Peninsula. On the day that Morsi declared victory,
terrorists in camouflage attacked an Israeli construction crew
building a security barrier on the border with assault rifles, an
improvised explosive device and an anti-tank rocket. The bomb caused
the Israeli truck to crash into a ditch, killing one of the crew-
members, who was an Arab citizen of Israel. The Israeli response
killed two terrorists. No group claimed responsibility.
Later in the day, Israel carried out an airstrike in the Hamas-
controlled Gaza Strip, killing two suspected terrorists on a
motorcycle. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad group said the two were its
members and they were on a “reconnaissance” mission. The Israelis say
there is no connection between the strike and the attack earlier in
the day. If Palestinian Islamic Jihad was preparing an attack, then
Iranian involvement should be suspected. Relations between Iran and
Hamas are severely strained because the two are on opposite sides in
Syria. There is no evidence of a break between Palestinian Islamic
Jihad and Iran.
On Saturday, two rockets were fired from the Sinai Peninsula into
Israel, landing in the Negev desert and near Eilat, with no
casualties. Israeli officials told a newspaper that Hamas launched
them on orders from Muslim Brotherhood leaders in Egypt, but the
Brotherhood said Israel was trying to influence Egyptian voters. A
senior Israeli official later denied the Brotherhood’s involvement.
The razor-thin margin between the two candidates makes it inevitable
that one side will cry foul when the final outcome is declared on
Thursday. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) prepared for
instability and the possibility of a Brotherhood victory by
essentially turning the clock back to pre-Arab Spring Egypt,
obviously with the exception of restoring the sidelined President,
Last week, SCAF issued a decree giving the military the power to
arrest civilians under broad terms. If the military feels that you
are inhibiting the flow of traffic, such as by protesting, you can be
placed under arrest. If the military feels you are hurting the
economy, such as by going on strike, you can be placed under arrest.
The Supreme Constitutional Court, staffed by judges chosen under the
Mubarak regime, then dissolved the entire parliament. The given
reason was that the one-third that was supposed to go solely to
independents competing in winner-takes-all races went to party
members that were technically independents only because they just
didn’t run under their party’s banner. The rest of the parliament was
chosen based on the proportion of the vote won by the party lists.
The Court also overturned a rule passed by the Islamist-led
parliament that former high-level regime officials like Shafiq
couldn’t hold office.
“The makeup of the entire chamber is illegal and, consequently, it
does not legally stand,” the Court said. The Muslim Brotherhood
declared that a “full-fledged coup” had taken place. There is no
possibility for appeal because it is the court with the highest
authority in Egypt.
This means that full legislative powers are in the hands of the SCAF.
The generals will control the budget and will soon pick the 100-
person assembly to draft the next constitution under their direction.
Once the new constitution is written, it must be approved in a
referendum within three months. Only then can new parliamentary
elections take place, which isn’t expected to happen any earlier than
December. SCAF says it is still committed to handing power over to
the chosen president by July, but SCAF gets to decide how much power
he’ll actually have.
SCAF has the power to accept the legitimate election results or to
declare the victor that it wants. It seems to be preparing the ground
to invalidate Morsi’s victory. SCAF may give the presidency to the
Muslim Brotherhood in order to maintain the façade of a balance of
powers and to appease its main rival while shutting out genuinely
secular-democratic voices. On the other hand, SCAF may be unwilling
to give up even a thimble-like amount of power. If that’s the case,
then Shafiq gets the presidency.
Don’t put too much emphasis on who officially wins the Egyptian
presidency on Thursday. Unlike Tunisia and Libya, regime change
didn’t happen in Egypt. It was a reshuffling of regime leadership.
SCAF will be writing the next constitution. The future of Egypt is in
the hands of the generals, just as it was before the Arab Spring.
(Copyright © 2012 FrontPageMagazine.com 06/19/12)
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