Monday, August 13, 2012

Egypt reacts after Morsi moves against military chiefs - live updates

Haroon Siddique and Louisa Loveluck, Monday 13 August 2012

'Reconfiguring of relationship'

The Arabist's Issandr El Amrani writes that the relationship between the president and the military has been reconfigured:

The overall impression I get is of a change of personalities with continuity in the institution (Supreme Council of Armed Forces). More junior officers are taking the posts of their former superiors, and some Scaf members are shifting positions. The departure of Tantawi was inevitable considering his age and unpopularity ...

This continuity suggests to me that we are dealing with a reconfigured SCAF that is nonetheless a powerful entity that still has powers parallel to the presidency and other civilian institutions. It is not, as the initial reaction to today’s news largely was, a victory by Morsi over the military. Rather, it is a reconfiguration of the relationship. Even so, it does appear the presidency comes out reinforced.

Referring to the president's assumption of constitutional powers previously held by Scaf, he writes:

It’s hard to think of a way to avoid this considering the lack of alternatives and the mess Egypt is in, but Morsi has effectively, on paper, dictatorial powers. It will largely come down to how he uses them, especially as the last thing Egypt needs is a government unable to make decisions and address urgent problems simply because the parliament is not in place ...

These moves will be seen by many opponents of the Brotherhood as a power grab, and the fact that Morsi has amassed considerable power (again, on paper) is indeed cause for concern. The power to appoint a new constitutional assembly is particularly key, if he ends up using it, I certainly hope it will be to appoint something acceptable to non-Islamists rather than impose the one Islamists wanted earlier this year (unfortunately, the MB’s sense of electoral entitlement makes me pessimistic here)

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