A new eruption in Egypt? (ISRAEL HAYOM OP-ED) Liad Porat 06/19/12)
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Even before Egypt´s presidential election results are published — in
which Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamad Morsi will likely emerge
the winner — the core rivalries in Egypt are crystallizing and the
tensions between the hawkish parties are intensifying. On one hand,
there is Ahmed Shafiq, a former general and the last prime minister
to serve under ousted president Hosni Mubarak. His rival, Morsi, is a
U.S.-educated engineer and until recently was the chairman of the
Freedom and Justice party.
Even as the brotherhood rejoices in Morsi´s election victory, a bumpy
road still awaits it, namely because the Supreme Council of the Armed
Forces is positioning itself as a powerful force squarely in its
path. The military council, it seems, is not interested in
transferring operational authority to the brotherhood and has
therefore engaged in a variety of feet-dragging maneuvers.
It appears evident that the two decisions made by Egypt´s Supreme
Constitutional Court last week were aimed at debilitating the
brotherhood. One decision was to authorize Shafiq´s candidacy,
despite his association with the failures and crimes of the previous
regime. The second decision was to disband a third of the parliament,
citing that the parliamentary election process was illegal. The
brotherhood leaders, who have accrued many years of experience with
the hardship of struggle, are projecting determined confidence and
a "business as usual" exterior in order to assure that their
candidate is elected president.
Hanging like a dark cloud over the brotherhood is the concern that
the military council will take harsher steps to hinder its power. One
such step was the recently adopted law allowing security forces to
treat protesters as outlaws. In response, Morsi, a serene person by
nature, was outraged. In an interview that appeared in the
brotherhood´s main publication, Morsi threatened that if the military
council interfered in the vote-counting process the brotherhood would
unleash the protesting masses to continue the revolution.
Threats in the same vein have been voiced in the past, specifically
from the man who was initially nominated by the brotherhood for
president, the engineer and businessman known for his militant
attitude toward the regime, Khayrat el-Shater. Morsi´s threat,
however, even exceeded el-Shater as he sent a message of defiance
toward the central power authority. Morsi said it could not be
discounted that the brotherhood would call on protesters to sacrifice
themselves in honor of those who had already been killed in past
protests (whom he calls "shahids," or holy martyrs).
The increasing severity of Morsi´s tone represents a new intensity to
the rivalries simmering under the surface in Egypt. As is known, the
brotherhood identified the potential in civil protest and utilized
the opportunity to make their assault on the positions of power.
After winning the public´s support at the beginning of the year, the
brotherhood is not prepared to suffer arbitrary measures aimed at
sabotaging its advancements. However, as Morsi and his cohorts are
shooting off threats toward the military council and emphasizing
their commitment toward religion and Islamic law, they are taking
into account the negative consequences that could accompany such a
reality, especially if Morsi is elected. Morsi, therefore, has
repeatedly stated the brotherhood´s obligation to treat secular and
Christian citizens with respect, and has also spoken in favor of
During the election campaign, Israel´s name was also thrown into the
mix. In this regard, according to Morsi, Israel supported Mubarak and
is backing Shafiq and the military council. Morsi has also attacked
Shafiq and the heads of the military council, accusing them for
remaining silent about incidents on the Israeli-Egyptian border and
the natural gas agreements between the two countries.
Be the final election results as they may, it is not unreasonable to
assume that Egypt, or its city squares, will erupt again, and not in
the least because the authority of the president is not yet
constitutionally defined and the parliament could be dispersed.
The writer is a visiting lecturer at the Department of Middle Eastern
History at the University of Haifa and a research fellow at the Begin-
Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.
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