By Barry Rubin
So can you write “Arab Spring,” “free elections,” “democracy in Egypt,” and such things 100 times? This just might be somewhat in contradiction to the fact that:
Muslim Brotherhood President al-Mursi has just removed the two commanding generals of the Egyptian military. Does he have a right to do this? Who knows?There’s no constitution. That means all we were told about not having to worry because the generals would restrain the Brotherhood was false. Moreover, the idea that the army, and hence the government, may fear to act lest they lose U.S. aid will also be false. There is no parliament at present He is now the democratically elected dictator of Egypt. True, he picked another career officer but he has now put forward the principle: he decides who runs the army. The generals can still advise Mursi. He can choose to listen to them or not. But there is no more dual power in Egypt but only one leader. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces which has run Egypt since February 2011 is gone. Only Mursi remains and Egypt is now at his mercy.
Oh and to put the icing on the cake, Mursi will apparently decide who will be on the commission that writes the new Consttitution.
Behind the scenes note: Would Mursi dared have done this if he thought Obama would come down on him like a ton of bricks? Would the army give up if they thought America was behind it? No on both counts.
This is a coup. Mursi is bound by no constitution. He can do as he pleases unless someone is going to stop him. And the only candidate–the military–is fading fast, far faster than even we pessimists would have predicted.
Muslim Brotherhood President al-Mursi has also just named the editors of the top Egyptian newspaper and other media outlets. They are state-owned, you know, and there are a half-dozen good little independent newspapers.
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But one of them, al-Destour (ironically meaning “The Constitution”), has just had a full issue seized on charges of “fueling sedition” and “harming the president through phrases and wording punishable by law.” We know this through a report in the Middle East News Agency, the state-owned monopoly.
And what was the inflammatory report? That the Brotherhood was going to seize power and that liberals and the army should join together to stop the country from being turned into an Islamist regime.
Seems to me that if it weren’t true there wasn’t any need to confiscate the issue, right? After all, everybody would have seen that it wouldn’t happen and all would have shared a good laugh!
Other columnists are charging that the Brotherhood is trying to turn their newspapers into reliable house organs rather than let them be free.
Reminds me of a personal experience I had in Cairo over thirty years ago. An al-Ahram newspaper editor was well-known for being the highest-ranking Christian in journalism. I went to see him and mentioned that I knew he was a Christian. He launched into a long lecture about how wonderfully Christians were treated in Egypt, how there was no discrimination against them, etc.
After a while I mentioned that I heard he had been on the television the previous evening but I had missed it. For no particular reason, I just asked, “How long were you on, fifteen minutes?”
Without missing a beat, he shot back: “Fifteen minutes! You’d think they’d let a Copt be on for fifteen minutes! I was on for three minutes.”
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in
International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East
Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His book, Israel: An Introduction, has just been published by Yale University Press.
Other recent books include The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition),
The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle
East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center and of his blog, Rubin Reports. His original articles are published at PJMedia.