Egypt: Which policy Mr. Morsi will pursue

Omar Ashour
Omar Ashour زميل سابق في بروكنجز

June 19, 2012

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As far as I understand Mr. Ibrahim said that the Parliament was not dissolved and that they are going to convene on Tuesday?

Yes, that’s true. They said they will do so but the SCAF Field-Marshal said that it was dissolved and he issued two laws in the official law journal of Egypt where all ratified laws are published saying that their Parliament has been dissolved. And today the Head of the Legislative Committee in the Parliament, senior judge Mahmoud Khodari tried to enter but the security forces stopped him from entering. Yesterday you had a very similar scenario with the few MPs that tried to enter the Parliament and they were stopped. So, on Tuesday they said they will march to the Parliament, organize a large march to enter the Parliament. And we will see what happens like either they enter or they find a clash.

From what I’ve been reading Mr. Morsi’s statements seem to be quite moderate.

Yes, there is no chance that Morsi is going to impose some kind of an Islamic republic or an Islamist ideology on the country at the moment. So, you won’t see anything like Iran or Sudan, or Saudi Arabia. He is in quite a weak position right now. I think what he will try to do is to have a national wide coalition for ruling so he might hire a non-Islamist Prime Minister and non-Islamist Vice President and he will be trying to approve himself quite significantly in terms of economic development. If you look at the program, it is very much economy driven and in terms of it he removed many of the Islamist slogans there. And I think what he will try to do, although he promised to implement the Sharia principles as opposed to laws and principle, it is a very vague term, so we are talking about justice, about freedoms, about security and so on as opposed to Sharia laws which are a direct religious interpretation he is trying to impose.

So, at the moment his appeal is more on the national level, reconciliatory to a large degree but we will see because this is all against the constitutional declaration that was declared yesterday that gives the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces the major powers over the president and over the constitutional assembly formation and over the legislative powers. So, it is still a long way to go.

But how do you think the military could go in opposing those people whom they term as Islamists?

I think it already went quite far with the dissolving of the Parliament and with the taking over the legislative powers and deciding to form the constitution assembly which was influenced by the Islamist majority in the Parliament. So, I think they already secured their position to be the most dominant force in the country like any other force right now is secondary, including the president. And at that moment there is no need to do much if they want to avoid a serious confrontation in the streets of Egypt.

So, I think they already went quite far and you will see some major mobilization in the streets. But every party in Egypt is quite aware of the Algerian scenario, they don’t want to take things into an armed confrontation in the streets or a civil war scenario. So, they are trying to avoid that. But at the same time the military realizes that it is a very strong and powerful actor and therefore tries to reflect that on the political scene.

But are the military really in a position to oppose the democratically elected Parliament without risking losing the support they still have?

No, it is a very dangerous game for them. All that they have in this game is the arms. They have the tanks and the guns but not the legitimacy, not the popular legitimacy for sure. It is a quite dangerous situation, I mean what instigated the Algerian tragic civil war is of a quite similar scenario – a military with the arms dissolves the Parliament and this is how civil war is helped. It is a very risky and dangerous situation, what we have here in Egypt is just a similar scenario with the backing from the Constitutional Court that said that the election law of the Parliament is unconstitutional. And based on that they ordered dissolving the Parliament but it is not their mandate, the Constitutional Court has no right in the Egyptian laws to dissolve any parliament, it has the right only to say whether the laws are constitutional or not. And the Higher Administrative Court which has that right did not even see the case but said there are a lot of legal problems in the decision. And the SCAF did not really wait for that, they just used that decision and they don’t have this right also in the constitutional declaration that they wrote, they don’t give themselves this right to dissolve the Parliament. So, it is a big problem and I think you may see a major confrontation in the coming few days.

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