by Peter Worthington
It didn’t take long for Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi to put egg on the face of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and all those who had faith in his commitment to democracy.
Literally, within hours of being congratulated and credited with brokering the ceasefire between Israel and Gaza (which has nothing to do with “peace,” only with Hamas stopping, or pausing, the firing of rockets into Israel), Morsi decreed absolute powers unto himself — making himself the new pharaoh.
The Egyptian street has erupted, as it did in bringing Hosni Mubarak down. Reacting to the ceasefire, Obama said he was “impressed with his (Morsi’s) pragmatic confidence … an engineer’s precision with surprisingly little ideology.”
Clinton praised Morsi’s “personal leadership to de-escalate the situation” and called Egypt “a cornerstone of regional stability and peace.”
Those glowing assessments were soon refuted — by Morsi himself.
By husbanding all power unto himself, Morsi is demonstrating that his loyalty is not so much to the country that democratically elected him (a first, in Egypt’s history), but to the Muslim Brotherhood, which has achieved ascendancy in Egypt.
A lot of Arab countries know that the Muslim Brotherhood is bad news for democracy, and is an enemy of secular politics. It is an advocate of Shariah law — something Morsi was resolutely committed to, prior to the surprise of his being elected president with 51% of the vote.
It is fair to wonder if he will get away with his gesture — or if the army, which so far has been subdued by the people’s choice, will allow him to get away with it.
If the army takes action, it had better hurry else it’ll be too late. The Muslim Brotherhood is motivated by its desire for power and religious intolerance.
As for the Israel-Gaza ceasefire, who won? Or did anyone win?
The Globe and Mail editorially opines: “There is no doubt Israel was successful in its eight-day war with Hamas.” It points to Israel’s deadly targeted attacks on Hamas leaders; its destruction of Hamas’ stockpiles of rockets and missiles; and the effectiveness of Israel’s “Iron Dome” missile defence shield.
On the other hand, the Toronto Star’s predictable editor emeritus, Haroon Siddiqui, says “Hamas emerges stronger” in that it “has been legitimatized, treated almost as a sovereign government.”
Siddiqui and the Star are right that Hamas has stolen credibility from the Palestinian Authority and Mahmoud Abbas’ apparent rejection (for the moment) of violence against Israel. Rarely mentioned in Hamas’ addiction terror.
The Globe editorially notes Morsi’s “profoundly worrying decree, placing his own office above any court, in the absence of any parliament or a functioning constituent assembly.”
While the ceasefire bolsters Hamas (and Hezbollah) as Israel’s most virulent enemy, it does little to advance peace and security. Hamas’ goals haven’t changed. It is a terrorist organization by any civilized standards — as resolutely identified by Canada.
We’ll never know, but perhaps Israel should have reoccupied Gaza militarily — and should eliminate Hamas leaders as they emerge. Because rocket attacks will be tried again. The world knows this, yet the world persistently urges Israel to do nothing.
As for Egypt, it’ll be interesting to see if the army moves against Morsi. If the army does nothing, it means the mischief from the Muslim Brotherhood will spread throughout the Middle East, and Mohamed Morsi will be a less resilient and accommodating dictator than Hosni Mubarak. Wait and see.
Categories: Contributor Columns