A 'new pharoah'

President's power grab threatens to rip fragile Egypt apart

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The warning sirens over Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and the future of his country should’ve sounded loudly in your heads even before you finished the first sentence of the Associated Press’ news dispatch last week from Cairo:

“Egypt’s Islamist president unilaterally decreed greater authorities for himself Thursday and effectively neutralized a judicial system that had emerged as a key opponent by declaring that the courts are barred from challenging his decisions.”

So much for Egypt’s provisional constitution. You know – the one that promises that the nation will be a “democratic state” that derives its sovereignty from the consent of the governed?

Morsi insists that his decree is merely temporary, with the aim of hastening reform. Really? In the same way that gasoline can hasten the extinguishing of a fire?

All this came less than a day after Morsi won praise from sections of the international community for his role in brokering a cease-fire between Israel and the Palestinian ruling party Hamas.

Now, what was perhaps Morsi’s single thread of political credibility has unraveled virtually overnight because of yet another of his naked power grabs. He pulled a similar stunt in August when he told the supreme commander of Egypt’s military and its chief of staff to clean out their desks – after which Morsi assumed their powers.

Now, under the guise of a constitutional declaration, he’s telling Egyptians that he essentially will rule unchallenged until legislative elections are held next year. That is, if they are held.

And how did Egyptians respond? With riots approaching the same scale of the 2011 “Arab Spring” riots that booted Egypt’s previous president, Hosni Mubarak – not exactly a beacon of liberty, either.

But at least he wasn’t an Islamist, which Morsi is. And the prospect of his anti-secular Muslim Brotherhood party dominating power in Egypt suggests a much more grim future for Israel specifically, and the stability of the Arab world in general.

Morsi promised to iron things out Monday with Egypt’s senior judges, who want to limit the scope of the president’s newly stated powers. A hearing challenging Morsi’s decree has been scheduled for Dec. 4. Actually, the declaration should be rescinded as if it never happened.

But whatever palliative words Morsi delivers to the judiciary, the damage already has been done, and if there were any lingering doubts about Morsi’s true intentions as president of Egypt, those doubts have been blown away like so much desert sand.

Mohamed ElBaradei, an Egyptian opposition leader and winner of the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize, has dubbed the increasingly autocratic Morsi a “new pharoah,” and that term has become a common refrain among growing mobs of protesters.

In a part of the world starved for political stability, Morsi’s machinations could not have come at a worse time. Egypt needs real democracy, not Islamist-backed inflammation.

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Jon Lester
Jon Lester 11/27/12 - 03:10 am
I don't think regular readers expect you to appreciate

the Muslim Brotherhood, but I hope you'll at least be journalistic about it and just watch what happens. Egypt may well be the most demographically and politically diverse of the major Arab nations, so we should give the people a chance to shape their republic. If you recall from history, our own nation endured a few fits and starts when it was yet nascent.

carcraft 11/27/12 - 06:32 am
Funny we haven't heard from

Funny we haven't heard from Obama about this. You would think he would be all over it since her favored getting rid of the lasst dictatorship in Egypt, well consistancy was never part of Obama's thing anyway!

Riverman1 11/27/12 - 07:15 am
Carcraft, President Obama

Carcraft, President Obama should add ayahtollah in front of his title when dealing with Arab countries. We have to show them we'll meet half-way with the Muslim extremism that creates fundamentalist Muslim govenments. You should realize they have an inherent right to have nonsecular governments and laws. American businesses should open berka stores in Cairo to cash in on the coming Islamo-fascist surge.

allhans 11/27/12 - 04:26 pm
Carcraft. Obama is waiting

Carcraft. Obama is waiting to see which way the wind blows..Did you take note of the fact that he sent Hillary hustling when he heard that an agreement was reached between Israel and Gaza. 24 hours later she shows up and the rest is the usual Obama story. Take credit - never ever take blame.

Jane18 11/28/12 - 02:00 am
Jon Lester's Comment

"...............we should give the people a chance to shape their republic. If you recall from history, our own nation endured a few fits and starts when it was yet nascent(beginning to form or develop)". Jon, do you know that Egypt is probably the one country, with the same name, that has been an existing nation for approximately 5,000-6,000 years? I would say that if they haven't gotten it together by now, they never will. And this guy Morsi, bad, bad news! By the way, there is no comparison between The United States of America and Egypt(in any kind of way)! Here comes my biblical part...GOD said Egypt would always be a base(low, unprofitable)nation, because every time they said they would help Israel, they either lied or just did not help. Look at all those countries around Egypt with all that oil, and they have none.

Jane18 11/28/12 - 02:12 am
Some Kind of Feeling

For some reason when I was reading about Morsi in this article, I was having something like a deja vu moment. But what's happening with him and Egypt has not happened here.....has it? Well, not yet............! And no, it was not a tingle up my leg like Little Chris Matthews!

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