Sunday, December 9, 2012

Don’t call it a concession: Morsi plays politics

By Joseph Mayton
Bikya Masr

"CAIRO: Yes, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi rescinded his controversial decree from last month that had sparked massive protests against his regime. But, he didn’t postpone the constitutional referendum, arguably the sticking point for the opposition groups against Morsi.
Why would he cancel the referendum? That is exactly why the presidential decree was implemented in the first place, so he and the ultra-conservative Islamic groups could ram through the constitution without judicial oversight.
Without the decree on November 22, the judiciary would have likely struck down the constituent assembly tasked with writing the draft and forced the country to reassemble.
Morsi on Saturday played a solid game of politics, and while commentators and pundits in the Western media are referring to the removal of the decree as a “concession” Egyptian citizens know better.
They are unlikely to view this as more than a political move. With the referendum going forward, a sit-in in front of the Supreme Constitutional Court and Morsi’s “national dialogue” having taken place, their is no need for a decree that he can now turn around to the country and say, “see, I remove the decree and they are still mad. This is not democracy.”
And that is the unfortunate reality of the Brotherhood’s cunning political strategy in Egypt – which makes their entrance last Wednesday to the streets in a violent manner that much more surprising.
The Muslim Brotherhood and Mohamed Morsi made no concession on Saturday night, instead they lashed back at the opposition protests, ostensibly telling them “we can do whatever we want, whenever we want.”
If Morsi were to bow to pressure, the decree would have been removed days ago, but when you are the dictator, it doesn’t matter. And after violence perpetrated by your supporters that you tell the country was done by the victims, calling it a concession, or giving in a little to opposition, denotes that the opposition has won something, even a small battle.
The reality is that we have seen this before. Mubarak would announce a decree, a new provision of something, people would get angry and then he would meet with “advisors” and then revoke it, somewhat. This would take days and by the time it had been completed, it basically mattered not by that moment.
The same is now. A referendum will take place in 6 days’ time. It is almost impossible for the protesters to now go into “vote no” mode and get people to strike down one of the most repressive and anti-women constitutions in modern history. Morsi understands this, but now he has plausible deniability. He revoked the decree; he had a national dialogue (with Islamists mind you) and he is letting democracy play out.
All the while the protesters know they have a dictator on their hands. If Morsi doesn’t want to be called a dictator, he should stop acting like one."

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