Two related pieces today on the Muslim Brotherhood’s putsch against the head of the Egyptian Army. First up, Abigail Hauslohner:
It would seem that Mohamed Morsy is on a roll. Less than a week after sacking several major security chiefs, the first elected President in Egypt’s history has moved on to tackle the big guns. On Sunday, Morsy fired Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the country’s Defense Minister and powerful chief of Egypt’s military council, with whom the President has been locked in a power struggle since he took office at the end of June. Perhaps no more.
Along with Tantawi, who in the 18 months since the ousting of President Hosni Mubarak has reigned as the most powerful man in Egypt, Morsy sacked his chief of staff, Sami Anan. He fired the head of every service of the armed forces and nullified the June constitutional decree that Tantawi and Anan’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) had released to seize more power for itself. Morsy also appointed a much anticipated Vice President: Mahmoud Mekki, a prominent reformist judge.
Hauslohner doesn’t explain what “reformist” means in the context of Egypt’s domestic politics, so how about some background? He co-wrote an op-ed for the Guardian six years ago, after finding himself in hot water with the Mubarak regime. Here’s the crux:
In Egypt we don’t have any confidence in US policy because it is a contradictory policy that pays lip service to democracy while supporting dictatorships. We have confidence in the Egyptian people. We welcome support from any quarter, but we won’t rely on it. We will depend on ourselves in our campaign for reform and change.
US = bad. Islamic street power = good. So I think it’s fair to say that Mekki is no friend of the military — or of us, for that matter. He provides some lip service for “western ideas,” but when your proclaimed faith is for the sort of democracy likely in Egypt, you’re really a friend of the Muslim Brotherhood. And don’t they know it; they just made him vice president.
Which brings us to Barry Rubin right here at PJM:
he 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.
Not all of us pessimists — I expected the Army would finish the looting pretty quickly, and have escaped to France or wherever months ago. There’s nothing like getting out when the getting is good.
What do you want to bet they’re regretting moving so slowly? Tantawi certainly must be. The two remaining tests are if he’ll be put on trial like Mubarak, and who replaces him as Egypt’s Army chief.
Welcome to Somalia-on-the-Med, everybody.