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August 13, 2012

Egypt's Mursi Cans Two Generals

For years I've read that the Egyptian military is the real power in Egypt. It looks like that might not be true anymore. President Mursi has just removed two commanding generals. Barry Rubin, from PJM:

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 Constitution.

Rubin goes on to call this a coup. I don't know about that, but it can't be good if the force that kept Egypt stable all these years is gone. The reaction in Egypt sounds mixed.

Thousands poured into Cairo’s Tahrir Square late yesterday to celebrate what they said was another step toward the completion of the January 2011 uprising against Hosni Mubarak. Others said they were concerned about the growing hold of the Muslim Brotherhood, which backed Mursi for the presidency, on Egyptian politics.

“There is no way that we can consider these surprise decisions to be in the interests of the reforms called for under the revolution,” el-Saeed Kamel, the head of the secular Democratic Front party, said by phone, adding that they represent a “contradiction to the promises Mursi made.”

Mursi also voided a constitutional addendum the military council had enacted before he took office that stripped the presidency of some its powers.

The fear is that he is a fundamentalist reformer and that Egypt will soon go the way of Iran. But if you think back to Iran's transformation, it didn't go like this. When Khomeini returned to Iran, he took over as a religious leader. Mursi is not a religious leader; he was a member of parliament, a politician supported by the Muslim Brotherhood. So far, it can't be said he is acting more like a fundamentalist reformer than he is a tin-plated dictator.

Time will tell.

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posted by rdbrewer at 02:10 PM

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