Julie Webb-Pullman reports

Is Morsi next in the line of fire?

23 November 2012

Given his role in the Gaza-Israeli ceasefire, it was only a matter of time before Egypt’s President Morsi found himself in the sights.

Few expected it to be quite so fast.

Protests across Egypt are underway, both in support of, and against Morsi’s ‘surprise Constitutional Declaration’ on Thursday.

The inability of those screaming for democracy to actually accept its results is staggering. One of their major complaints was that the Constituent Assembly formed to draft the new Constitution was ‘unrepresentative’ – and despite a new agreement on its composition being reached in June 2012, non-Islamists continue to complain.

The Egyptain election results were clear – the Islamists won power, by a clear majority. Non-Islamists, especially those espousing democracy, should have no trouble in accepting this outcome, ie that they are in a minority, and are subject the decisions of the majority.

Most have withdrawn from the Constituent Assembly – but even then, they only constitute 25%, leaving a weighty 75% still in there. Which bit of ‘majority’ do they not understand?

That is what democracy is. That is what they have been, and continue, screaming for at the barricades.

The outcome of the Constituent Assembly, the proposed new Constitution, will go to referendum, and the people will get to vote for – or against – it. What is ‘undemocratic’ about this?

And the Constitutional Declaration – why should it concern them, for instance, that the Constituent Assembly and Shura Council (upper house of parliament) will be immune to dissolution by a judicial body? These bodies were elected by, or on behalf of, the people, not appointed by the judiciary, and in a real democracy, they should be dissolved by the people, not by any other authority, judicial or otherwise.

Does the US judiciary have the power to dissolve the Senate? Does the British judiciary have the power to dissolve the House of Lords? Why should the Egyptian judiciary have such powers?

Who appoints the Attorney General in Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada? The Prime Minister! Who appoints the Attorney General in the United States? The President! Is this the type of ‘separation of powers’ they are calling for in Egypt?

The purpose of the Declaration is to speed up the transition to a new Constitution, and a newly-elected Parliament under the new Constitution – something the ‘revolutionaries’ all desired, but also something some in the current judiciary have been doing their best to prevent.

Morsi’s move has been praised by the spokesperson for the ‘Coalition of Judges for Egypt’, Justice Walid Sharabi, who particularly praised the dismissal of the Public Prosecutor, saying “Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud, the Public Prosecutor, has long defended the toppled regime, sought to corrupt the judiciary and to create a justice system rotten to the core.”

So is this latest round just a front for the massive destabilisation attempt we have been expecting since Morsi’s election, and more especially, since the ceasefire between Israel and Gaza brokered by Egypt this week?

As leading Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) member Essam El-Erian said in Al Ahram Online today when condemning reported attacks on FJP offices in several governates, “They are acts of thuggery hiding behind [opposition] political forces.”

With its role as mediator and guarantor of the ceasefire agreement, and Israel’s killing of at least one Palestinian and the injuring of nine more in a clear breach of the agreement before the ink has even dried, Egypt’s position is both pivotal, and vulnerable to destabilisation by those with the most to gain from distracting Egypt at best, and bringing down the Morsi regime at worst.

No prizes for guessing the identity of who is paying these ‘pipers’ of dissent in Egypt, and whose fingers will be as sticky with Egyptian blood as they already are with the blood of Palestinians, Iraqis, Syrians, Lebanese, Libyans and Iranians, if they are allowed to prevail.

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