When Egypt’s 61-year-old U.S.-educated Mohamed Morsi took office June 30, 2012, Egypt and the West had high hopes that the 30-plus-year rule of Egypt’s authoritarian ruler Hosni Mubarak would be replaced by a new Democracy. Egypt’s own version of the “Arab Spring” made its way to Cairo’s revolutionary Tahrir Square where thousands of pro-Democracy protesters braved Mubarak’s onslaught to finally drive him from Cairo Feb. 11, 2012. By the time Egyptians woke up, Mubarak had plundered the Land of the Pharaohs for more than $60 billion, putting his wealth at close to Microsoft mogul Bill Gates. Winning an internationally monitored election June 25, 2012, the USC engineering graduate and Cal State Northridge professor promised a new birth in Egyptian politics. Instead, Morsi allowed the Muslim Brotherhood to hijack the election and rule Egypt.
Under pressure from the Muslim Brotherhood, Morsi suspended the rule of law, making him immune to Egypt’s High Court, claiming he protected the revolution from Mubarak’s tyranny. Egyptians who sacrificed their lives in Tahrir Square didn’t hand the revolution to the Muslim Brotherhood, only to see one form of tyranny replace another. Suspending the Constitution and his accountability to Egypt’s High Court Dec. 12, 2012, Morsi pushed his new power to the breaking point. Violent protests erupted on Tahrir Square demanding he reinstate the Constitution and his accountability to the courts. When Gen. Abel Faffah al-Sisis ceded military power back to Morsi June 30, it was a sacred pact expecting the newly elected president to respect all Egyptians that voted him into office. Granting himself too much power prompted Mohammed ElBaradei to call Morsi “Egypt’s new pharaoh.”
ElBaradei, who ran against Morsi in Egypt’s 2012 election and formerly director of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, pulled no punches letting Morsi know what he thought of his strong-arm tactics. Now Morsi’s enforcer, Gen. Sisi, warns Morsi that he’s pushed things too far. “The continuation of the struggle of the different political forces . . . over the management of state affairs could lead to the collapse of the Egyptian state,” said Sisi, currently operating as Morsi’s defense minister. Sisis, who trained at the U.S. Army War College, commands respect in Washington. When he warns of a “collapse,” the White House takes notice. Pro-Democracy protesters took to the streets in Cairo and Alexandria, and three Suez Canal cities of Port Said, Ismalia and Suez. Under Morsi’s orders, the three Suez cities are under strict marshal law with early curfews.
Egyptians were so elated to boot out Mubarak last June they didn’t realize the risks of inserting someone with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. While Morsi has all the right credentials, he’s a weak leader beholden to the Muslim Brotherhood. Egyptians, euphoric over the first election in the republic’s history, had no clue what they were getting into voting for Morsi. Instead of voting for Nobel Peace Prize-winning ElBaradei, they were sold a bill of goods. Morsi’s political machine painted ElBaradei as an outsider, having worked most of his adult life for the U.N., most recently in Vienna. What Egyptians missed is that Morsi was a U.S.-educated engineering professor, with two of his three children U.S. citizens. Morsi used his Muslim Brotherhood ties as his ace-in-the-hole to beat ElBaradei. Egyptians would be wise to jettison Morsi and give ElBaradei a chance to get things right.
Watching anarchy build in Egyptian streets from Cairo to the Suez Canal raises fears of another revolution. Gen. Sisi would be hard-pressed to mobilize the military in support of Morsi against the Egyptian people, knowing that the Muslim Brotherhood doesn’t represent mainstream Egyptians. “Egyptians are really alarmed by what is going on,” said Cairo-based analyst Elijah Zarwan, agreeing that the military would not support the Muslim Brotherhood. “But I don’t think it should be taken as a sign that the military is on the verge of stepping in and taking back the reigns of government,” said Zarwan. When Morsi decided Dec. 12 to suspend the Egyptian Constitution that should have clued in Egyptians that Morsi was not the right leader. Getting dangerously close to anarchy, Egyptians face a fateful decision of ejecting Morsi, installing ElBaradei and moving toward Democratic reforms.
Egypt’s street protests around the country reflect the peoples’ rebellion against Morsi’s tyrannical rule, imposing Islamic law on the Arab world’s most progressive society. While Morsi calls himself Egypt’s only elected Democratic leader, he’s been acting no differently than his predecessor. Ordinary Egyptians, while proud Muslims, reject theocracy and seek a secular progressive political state. Instead of paying back the Muslim Brotherhood for getting him elected, Morsi should take the pulse of average Egyptians rejecting Islamic law and seeking more Democracy. Morsi’s pushed the government to the breaking point, no longer commanding the respect of voters that put him into power. Morsi’s token act to include the opposition in “national dialogue” doesn’t respect the revolution that toppled Mubarak. Egyptians demand nothing less than more Democracy.
About the Author
John M. Curtis writes politically neutral commentary analyzing spin in national and global news. He’s editor of OnlineColumnist.com and author of Dodging The Bullet and Operation Charisma .