icubud (icubud) wrote,
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From The Week

2 cents: note comments in blue - this is what I am referring to in prior posts. Muslim Brotherhood is not actually about democracy.

A military power grab in Egypt

Tens of thousands of Egyptians poured into Cairo’s Tahrir Square to chant the name of the Islamist who they say won the presidential election.

What happened
An audacious power grab by the ruling military junta left Egypt in turmoil this week, as tens of thousands of Egyptians poured into Cairo’s Tahrir Square to chant the name of the Islamist who they say won the presidential election. Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Mursi claimed to have won 52 percent of the vote in the first presidential race since the toppling 17 months ago of former dictator Hosni Mubarak. Mursi, a U.S.-educated engineer, promised to build a “modern, democratic state” for all Egyptians, whether Muslims or not. But his rival Ahmed Shafiq—Mubarak’s last prime minister and a close ally of the generals—accused the Brotherhood of “organized and persistent election fraud,” and declared that he had won the runoff.

Whoever is eventually declared the winner will have little authority. The Supreme Constitutional Court, still mainly Mubarak appointees, last week dissolved both houses of parliament, which the Brotherhood and other Islamists control. The junta then announced a new interim constitution that gives the generals the right to pass laws, control the budget, declare war, and steer the drafting of a permanent constitution. “This is a military coup against the people,” said Galal Osman, a protester in Tahrir Square. “We want the president that we elected to have all the powers of his office.”


What the editorials said
Egypt’s revolution “looks increasingly like a mirage,” said the Chicago Tribune. Fearful that the Muslim Brotherhood would control both the presidency and the parliament, the generals gutted both institutions. Many ordinary Egyptians dislike the Islamists’ religious dogma, but they fear a return to the dark days of Mubarak-style military rule even more. If the military won’t ease its iron-fisted grip on power, there will be more mass protests and violence. “Egypt was a big part of the Arab Spring. But it may be facing a long, hot summer.”

President Obama better get tough with the generals, said The Washington Post. So far, the State Department has issued only gentle warnings about possible damage to Egyptian-American relations. “We hope this message is being stated more bluntly in private.” If the generals “suffocate Egyptian democracy in the cradle,” they should lose the $1.3 billion in U.S. military aid they receive every year.


What the columnists said
This is a political masterstroke by the military, said Paul McGeough in The Sydney Morning Herald. The generals knew they could lose their top-dog status, wealth, and privileges if their man Shafiq lost and the Brotherhood controlled parliament, too. Now, the new president will be a figurehead; at the same time, the junta has “cleverly debased” the judiciary by ordering it to dissolve parliament—“so if anyone has a debate or grievance, where do they take it?” Egyptians are starting to lose faith in democracy, said Tim Lister in CNN.com. Many have soured on the Brotherhood, which used its parliamentary majority to bolster its own power rather than help ordinary people struggling in a broken economy. With the revolution flailing and leaderless, the military saw the perfect opportunity to regain control.

We should thank the generals for preventing a greater disaster, said Bret Stephens in The Wall Street Journal. The Muslim Brotherhood’s allies in parliament already sought to tighten Egypt’s strict divorce laws and roll back a ban on female genital mutilation—thus erasing gains by women and secularists. If the Brotherhood were allowed to control the entire government, it would have been free to pursue the ultimate goal expressed by the group’s de facto leader, Khairat al-Shater: “the Islamization of life.”

But what if this coup leads to civil war? said Jonathan Tobin in CommentaryMagazine.com. When the Algerian military overturned an election victory by Islamists in 1992, the result was a horrific, decade-long conflict in which some 200,000 people died. “If the Nile Valley becomes a war zone,” the violence could spill over into neighboring Israel and Gaza, further inflaming an already volatile region. That grim scenario makes a Muslim Brotherhood government—in an uneasy alliance with the generals—“look like an attractive alternative.”

Tags: 2 cents, current events, middle east
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