As millions of Egyptians fill the streets of the Egyptian capital of Cairo, as well as other major cities, the powerful Egyptian military makes clear its intention to seize power from a failing government. The opposition warns that it intends to escalate the unrest and the headquarters of the ruling Muslim Brotherhood burns. This is the current state of the so-called ‘Arab Spring’; it is also the backdrop to the story of the rise and inevitable fall of Muhammad Morsi.
Morsi became President of Egypt little more than a year ago, on June 30th, 2012. Once he assumed office, he resigned as chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party. This was little more than an astute, political move, however; the Muslim Brotherhood remains the dominant force in the Egyptian government and the puppeteers who pull Morsi’s strings. With Egypt seemingly on the verge of civil war, it is more than likely that those strings will soon be cut.
Muhammad Morsi is an academic, a professor and, by training, an engineer from a humble background. He studied at both the University of Cairo – the breeding ground of Muslim Brotherhood founders – and the University of Southern California. He served in the Egyptian parliament from 2000 to 2005 as an Independent candidate, but, in reality, representing the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. As Egypt descended into revolution in 2011, the Muslim Brotherhood established the Freedom and Justice Party and installed Morsi at its helm. Once elected President, the bespectacled, 62-year-old professor quickly granted himself almost unlimited power to rule and legislate. In doing so, he alienated a large section of the Egyptian populace.
The ‘Arab Spring’, there should be no denying, has been usurped by Islamists, hoping to fulfill their long-held ambition to topple the autocratic, secularist rulers of the Middle East and Maghreb (North and West Africa) and replace them with Islamist theocracies. Beneath that, however, the people of Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria and a dozen other countries rose up to vent their frustration over the poverty, corruption and repression that has prevented the Arab world from realizing its potential. Many in the Muslim world, along with Western Liberals, have laid blame for the unrest and anger raging within these societies at the feet of the United States; claiming that an imperialist and interventionist American foreign policy lies at the root of Muslim discontent. Such a theory demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of the political and theological machinations within the Islamic world. The majority of the world’s Muslims – like most human beings – hope for little more than the opportunity to prosper, to support their families and to live without fear of persecution. To their shame, however, they have refused to take a stand against the radicals in their midst, out of a misguided loyalty to a faith that has been subverted, beyond almost all recognition, away from its original teachings.
A global struggle for supremacy, between the Shia and Sunni traditions, has been inevitable since the death of the prophet Muhammad, in the year 632. The ‘Arab Spring’ is, among other things, a manifestation of that struggle. Egyptian President Morsi is nothing more than a minor player in this game and, having failed to advance the cause of Sunni Islamism, will be swept aside. His rise was not inevitable; his fall, however, is.
Morsi’s year-old Presidency has been marked by incendiary comments, economic catastrophe and diplomatic inconsistency. His predecessor, the autocratic – but secularist – Hosni Mubarak, kept the peace with Israel; Morsi has jeopardized that peace by expressing his rejection of a two-state solution of the Israeli-Palestinian problem, in addition to other offensive remarks directed at the Jewish state. Even before becoming President, Morsi declared, in 2010, that “The two-state solution is nothing but a delusion concocted by the brutal usurper of the Palestinian lands.” In that same year, he is on video, delivering a speech, in which he described “Zionists” as “bloodsuckers who attack Palestinians.” He went on to label them “the descendants of apes and pigs,” and advised Egyptians to nurse their children on “hatred for them: for Zionists, for Jews.”
Failing to pacify the Egyptian people has contributed to the continued destruction of the country’s vital tourist industry. Inflation and unemployment continue to rise and the Muslim Brotherhood’s attempt to replace local elected officials with Islamist hard-liners has led to further discontent.
Having neither pleased, nor effectively suppressed, the Egyptian populace, Morsi’s fall will be much swifter than his rise; Already, the Muslim Brotherhood is purging the government, in a desperate race to tighten its failing grip on the country; Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr resigned Tuesday. Reports out of Egypt reveal that five other government ministers have also stepped down since the weekend’s massive anti-government protests began.
Specifically; the protesters are calling on Morsi to resign. Should he not do so, it is almost certain that the military will assume control of the government and remove him. The Muslim Brotherhood, seeing their brief rule about to be snuffed out, may push him out before the expiration of the military’s deadline, tomorrow. His only sliver of hope for survival is to announce sweeping reforms, within the next 24 hours; something that seems unlikely. Even if he were to do so, the tightrope he would be walking will, likely, snap and hurl him into the abyss: Go too far with reform, and his Brotherhood masters will be displeased; go not far enough and the demonstrators will continue their calls for his removal.
Graham J Noble