Islamists, Military on a Collision Course in Egypt

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The military council took another step to augment their power by issuing a constitutional decree that the Washington Post reports “gave the armed forces vast powers and appeared to give the presidency a subservient role.”

The declaration, published in the official state gazette, establishes that the president will have no control over the military’s budget or leadership and will not be authorized to declare war without the consent of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.

The document said the military would soon appoint a body to draft a new constitution, which would be put to a public referendum within three months. Once a new charter is in place, an election will be held to chose a parliament that will replace the Islamist-dominated one dissolved Thursday by the country’s top court.

The Muslim Brothers, who were caught by surprise when the court destroyed their power base by dissolving parliament, appear to be regaining their equilibrium. After the polls closed Sunday night, the Brotherhood announced that it had rejected the court order dissolving parliament, calling it a “coup against the entire democratic process.” They also rejected the constitutional decree and vowed that the constituent assembly they appointed in parliament last week to create the new constitution will write the new charter, not the generals.

This would seem to put the two power centers of Egyptian politics on a collision course. But the Islamists have struck deals with the military previously, and it is possible they will accede to the new order as long as Morsi is declared the winner of the election and new rules governing the election of members of parliament don’t shut them out of power. For their part, the generals might accept sharing power with the Brotherhood as long as they maintain their independence from government — much like the Pakistani generals enjoy in that country.

The military is gambling that the kind of massive protests that upended the Mubarak regime will not rematerialize, and that whatever unrest occurs can be handled. The Brotherhood may also realize this, which is why it may reluctantly make the deal and bide time until another opportunity presents itself. But the push to institute sharia law — slowly in the case of the Brotherhood but much more quickly as the salafis desire — might throw any arrangement between the two sides out the window.

It is thought that the generals acted because they feared an Islamist takeover of government with the election of Morsi, and a loss of their power and prerogatives. Marc Lynch (“Abu Aardvark”) put it this way:

The SCAF likely believes that a renewal of massive, sustained protest is no longer in the cards through a combination of its own repression and relentless propaganda, along with the strategic mistakes by protestors themselves. It doesn’t feel threatened by a few thousand isolated protestors in Tahrir, and probably is gambling that they won’t be joined by the masses that made the Jan. 25 revolution last year. They may also feel that the intense rifts of suspicion and rage dividing the Muslim Brotherhood from non-Islamist political trends are now so deep that they won’t be able to cooperate effectively to respond. Or they may feel that the MB would rather cut a deal, even now, than take it to the next level. They may be right, they may be wrong. But I wouldn’t bet on stability.

Early returns show Mohammed Morsi with the lead, but millions of votes still need to be counted. The tally won’t be “official” for a few days, but any result that gives the election to Ahmed Shafiq will likely be seen as illegitimate by the majority of Egyptians, despite most of them desiring the stability and law and order promised by the ex-prime minister. If Morsi wins, the Brotherhood will have a decision to make regarding whether they will accept a presidency with limited powers, and literally under the thumb of the generals, or whether they will contest the military council’s actions in the streets.

Whatever they decide, stability for a nation riven by divisions along political and religious lines will prove elusive.

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  • UCSPanther

    Egypt is past the age of the strongmen, now it is in the age of chaos.

  • Amused

    Didn't someone here on another thread say " Romans made the laws , the army made them legal " …of course ths would happen in Egypt , did you think the Military would forget the Billion-a-year we' re giving them ?

  • Mick

    Muslim Brotherhood and Democracy do not belong in the same sentence, in fact the two terms are wholly incompatible and the sooner Egyptians realise this the better, the military have actually done their country a service with this development.

  • jacob

    The Egyptian brass saw what happened to their colleagues in TURKEY and decided to us the ounce of
    prevention rather than the ton of cure, haven seen what happened there and now the peaceful friends of
    our President, the Muslim Brotherhood must decide what to do, as I don't believe the military will hesitate
    to put a stop to their actions now that hey learned who is who in it after coming in the open….

    Perhaps their White House friend decides to intervene if anything like what is happening in SYRIA happens
    in EGYPT
    RIGHT ???

  • effemall

    I never thought I would see the day I would cheer over a fascist takeover but I am delighted. No matter how corrupt the army will be in running the country, it will be decidedly better than the Muslim Brotherhood and another theocracy. It is better for the Egyptians, for their neighbors, for Israel and for the world.

    • Looking4Sanity

      Egypt (and the rest of the world) would have been better off keeping Mubarak.

  • Outsider looking In

    Who Said Democracy is good????? The western world is supposed to be a democratic country??? All i see in the western world is poverty, people cant find food, children are growing up in poor cities, the murder rate is the highest in the US and i don't see women with full rights and respect. The majority of people are depressed, still dealing with domestic violence, having to eat through food stamps. Are you kidding me… why would you question another country when you have much to fix in your own. Why would you give a country billions of dollars a year without proper follow up and inspection, but now you want to have a say in the billions of money you threw at Egypt and Israel, and you question why this is happening. The people of those countries have been neglected and put through emotional roller coasters; these are things someone who grew up in the US have never experienced nor came close but you still have an opinion on their actions!!!!! All the comments include Perhaps this and perhaps that … all you sound like is ignorant!!!
    Do we really know what will work or is it just bias opinions? If the US people want an opinion shouldn't they lead by example first. Go help your own American people before you make judgement. Go feed your poor children, why are women stealing diapers and working three jobs? why are their still gangs and violence … go fix your own country first… success is not measured by money, if you think that then you will never be fully successful in your life.

    • Looking4Sanity

      The United States is NOT…REPEAT…NOT a democracy. We are a Constitutional Republic.

      Democracy is just a nice way to say "mob rule"…which looks like exactly what YOU'VE got in the Muslim world.

      • Outsider looking In

        Whatever you call yourself.. the point was that you need to fix your country first before making judgment on anyone else, and why are you assuming that i am from the Muslim world?

        i dont think democracy will work in the middle east.

        Egypt needs a lot of cleaning before they can begin to rebuild anything. its like rebuilding on top of a pile of garbage.
        Dont be so insulted so fast about what i wrote. we are all human, and you see how sensitive you got??? why would any other human being in the world not be sensitive by your words. We are all the same.

        (even though, for example, time magazine once stated that Muslims are sub-human)

        we should all treat each other like people of the same world, but unfortunately that is not the case. So before you make judgement on another country then you have to be prepared and willing to take criticism back about your country because you are not perfect. only then can you judge.

        whats happening in Egypt is sad. the people dont want either but for some reason those were the two candidates to choose from, so whats happened this weekend was a pick from the worst two.

        People dont want either but no good candidate stood up that can stand next to world leaders and has experience but is also for the people at the same time! its almost like the uprising was for nothing.

        i do agree its a mess right now and its future is scary to think of…. all I put forth is not to make ignorant comments and judge from a point a view that comes from another country that has a lot to fix.

        PUT YOUR ENERGY IN FEEDING YOUR POOR AND HELPING THE SICK AND TEACHING EDUCATION TO YOUR USA PEOPLE. How can a rich country treat its people like that and still judge other counties for their treatment. in the US you cant even choose a president yourselves that you can all be happy with, you jump from left to right every 4 years… look no offence but the whole world needs help .. so pointing fingers to the middle east that the US financially helped build is ridiculous and ignorant.

        Looking4Sanity- thank you for clearing up the error i made regarding US is not a Democratic country.. much appreciate it. if you have more information i can learn from please reply :-)

        • Looking4Sanity

          ” the point was that you need to fix your country first before making judgment on anyone else”That would probably carry some weight if you weren't from one of those 3rd world crap holes that's always got its hand out for more of OUR money! It just really p!sses you off that we're so much better than you, doesn't it? Not enough that you'd turn down the money, of course…but still. That kind of hypocrisy would keep an honorable man up at night. Fortunately, you don't appear to suffer from an abundance of honor.

      • Spider

        No – We used to be a Constitutional Republic. That was before Obama, Holder and liberal judges voided the Constitution for us..

        • Looking4Sanity

          Just because people break the law, that doesn't make the law invalid. The law may not catch up to you immediately, but it will get you eventually.

    • Stephen_Brady

      … all you sound like is ignorant!!!

      This is where you ultimately lost me. Please, stay outside looking in. I'll be happy with that …

      • Outsider looking In

        It ok you dont have to read my comments.

        i only expected back lash from Americans HAHA, so i am not surprised you would all be so sensitive.

        instead of insulting me why not teach me. why not debate in a positive manner to learn more form each other.

        wow people have different opinions, is that frowned upon where you come from.

        sorry if i insulted you about the ignorant part, but yes some of the comments about Egypt were ignorant because you dont know any more information then what you read. i am sure i sound ignorant with many issues but i am open to learn and have my point of view changed.

        i wish there was someone that can challenge me but all your comments have only proven all my thought about the US people to be true. I wish you can reply with respect but if not i wont be surprise.

        Have a nice day :-)

        • Stephen_Brady

          Actually, I read all of your comment. When I said that you, "lost me", I meant that your caluclated insult showed me you had no intention of engaging in civil debate. When you go into a discussion with other people having preconceived notions about them, and then you give vent to those feelings in your first post, you can't expect them to react in a civil manner. It doens't work that way.

          The difference between the West, which you are looking in upon, ad where you probably live, is that if one says the wrong thing, he's not killed for it.

          BTW,America's poor would be fablously rich, compared to the poor in other countries. I have a friend who lives in Section 8 housing (he's low-income, and works at close the minimum wage). He has a computer, a car, plenty of food, two phones, health care, and is going to college, so that he can share in the American Dream, someday. Don't listen to the propaganda, my friend.

          You have a good day, too!

          • Outsider looking In

            Thank you Stephan, and i apologies for any insults.

            you are right i read back my comments and it does sound emotional. I was born and raised in Canada so i have never lived in a third world country but have visited them and stayed for few months. and what you consider poor is different. People in third world countries have means of transportation, phones and computers,. How else would the Egypt spring have happened without social media.

            what i guess i want really wanted to contribute is for the US people to not judge so fast the people in the middle east since they have not experienced it. i also have to endure ignorant comments like Arabs are jealous of the Americans. that's where i stop and get upset because that's not the case. if there is any tension its do to the history between the two worlds. i truly believe if people took the time to learn more to would eliminate the racist comments that are not needed.

            we have a bigger issue, and that is Egypt. the stability of that country is important to the US and the world. i am just concerned that the people helping to build that country have negative intentions. how can we help a country if we cannot understand them better first. Egypt is not a outcry that stands down easily. then i get someone else attacking me that Egypt will be destroyed by Israel. now i have close Israeli and Egyptian friend. i spend my Christmas dinner with a mix of Jews, Christians and Muslims. so to me its not about religion or culture it s about human rights. and as much as the Egyptian people are working on their right i feel there should be efforts to help people in the US feel stable.

            Banks were approving loans to people that should not have been approved, where was the government to stop that. its all about money. a US women was arrested for stealing diapers, but she works three jobs and has two kids. why is this happening that working single moms have to steel?

            there are lots of opportunity in US and Canada and we are very lucky but there is still a lot that is not right!

            About Egypt, i dont think Morsi or Shafiq are good candidates. And to bring back the Mubarak regime is a slap in the face to all of those that died during the revolution. THATS WHY Egypt is voting Muslim brotherhood,. But at the same time Muslim brother hood is a very scary and unpredictable group i believe.

          • Stephen_Brady

            Let's agree to not agree, on certain issues. I'll treat you with respect, and we can be friendly and civil. This is my dream about the internet, and certain people make it difficult to be civil.

            That said, understand that I am conservative, a Christian, and a strong supporter of Israel. Because of the potential unrest in Egypt following the elections, Israel has slowly begun the process of moving armored units towards the Egptian border. War will not be good for either nation, especially with the civil war going on in Syria. I agree with your assessment of the Muslim Brotherhood.

          • Outsider looking In

            Stephan i have respect for you.

            when in a debate it is given that you may not agree. i dont believe the whole world has to be on the same page, that's the fun in debating. how are we going to learn and understand the world issues if we only hear the same opinions. debating opens your mind.

            Now i have a close friend who is Israeli and his family donates to the Israeli army. I have friends from Palestine who have never seen their country and have family members who were shot sitting in their homes. in one social media course my professor was a Jewish man who wrote for the Globe & mail in the editorial section, and he was pro Palestine. the country i come from , Canada, is pro Israel. I am pro human rights. I am a Muslim who was born and raised in Canada. I graduated University of Toronto, with majors in Math and Bio and minors in Philosophy, social media and physics. i have friends from all across the world and we dont all agree but we are civil and respectful and love to debate so we can learn to see things in other way.
            I do not agree with the way Islam is being taught to Muslim youth now. i have learned the religion myself and decided i want to be a Muslim only because the religion itself teaches patience, love thy neighbor and that we are all love and forgiven by God. My muslim mother that what they teach in the muslim school is wrong in the sense that, yes they teach that all non muslims will go to hell… this is wrong the Quran doesn't say that specifically. if you are a good person you are going to heaven thats how i was taught Islam. i was told that you can be muslim but if you are not a good person then it doesn't matter what you are you will be punished.. but of course there are degrees and its a theory not a fact so each can believe what they want. Unfortunately Islam is interpreted wrong and some extremist are ruining it for the rest of the peaceful educated muslims. The muslim terrorists are ignorant uneducated people who use Islam as an excuse, in my opinion. but Islam itself is very peaceful, its the countries from those countries that are stupid and making their country and people look bad. i just get upset when its generalized because not all muslims are the same. its like saying all Christians are members of the KKK, which is ridiculous.

            now since you are pro Isreal i would love to learn more from where you are coming from. i am currently learning more about the Jewish faith just for my knowledge. Do you feel that there have been innocent Palestinians killed?

            since i do not go to either side, i only feel that Isreal should let Palestine be a free country and to not occupy Palestine anymore. whatever land each side have, why cant they just take that and move on, but its the occupying that is causing issues for muslims. my big concern is the the muslim brother hood do nto want to keep the peace treaty with Israel. they have been sending tanks for a while now. i do subscribe to Haartz on twitter and online so i have some information as to whats going on. dont forget Egypt has a big army and they are currently training their soldiers as well.

            Now a war would be very sad but if you read the Bible, the Tora , and the Quran they all describe a religious war is inevitable and if you believe in a higher being did send down those scriptures then is there anything we can do to stop it? do you agree. i would love to hear your thoughts.

  • Looking4Sanity

    In a related story, Israel rolls tanks out to the Egyptian border. Egypt better get a handle on their business before they end up getting their butts kicked all over the desert again!,7340,L-4243969

    • Outsider looking In

      Looking 4Sanity….. seriously you have lots of hatred. i dont wish harm on any country.

      Plus i was born and raised in the western world.

      Any money our country gave out to Egypt and Israel was for signing the peace treaty so no one begged for money hun!

      you seem really angry person. do you think everyone has to share your opinions. i couldn't care less what you think but i am open to hearing it, and i know people will be negative. but i thought i was joining an intelligent debate. but it seems like its just a place to put none US people down.

      Sweety Israel has been preparing for months now, oh but you just read that article today LOL see what i mean you only know about what you read. Egyptians all know whats happening in Israel and know they have been getting ready since the spring first happened! please continue to insult me i think its hilarious.

      if i seem tough about the treatment of people in the USA its because i feel they deserve rights. you get sensitive and throw rude comments before realizing that maybe they are on your side.

      I am not on any side but the human side so i dont care where your from or what your believe, everyone has a right to believe how they came on this earth! so when i see american, who some are my friends, living in poverty and have no rights, cant even go to the doctor when they are sick is shocking to me when the same group judges other countries. all i am saying is why not put that energy in making the USA better.

      Also i think its funny that Americans think middle east is jealous, Kuwait has a higher dollar value that the US Dollar so they are richer, UAE is beyond beautiful and rich. Egypt right now looks like its having a revolution but have you visited recently… they are all living life normally, you wouldn't think there is a revolution unless you go to the tahrir square. what the middle east world doesn't like is how you judge them, get involved in everything and try to make up stories to invade to steel the land and oil. WHO IS THE JEALOUS ONE !

      the whole world is one large propaganda! i dont agree with the US nor the Middle east! Canada is just trying to be the US , that's just my opinion.

      • Looking4Sanity

        Struck a nerve, did I? The truth hurts sometimes, doesn't it? You're a pathetic little coward for not having the courage to even say what country you're from. So don't pretend no one noticed that glaring omission.Don't bad mouth MY country when you're too ashamed to even claim your own.

        • Outsider looking In

          thank you for your insults.

          i didnt bad nouth the USA lol

          i was born and raised in Canada is thats what youreally want no problem.

          anyways i didnt come here to argue like little kids. go ahead and insult me as much as you like.

          have a nice day.

          • Looking4Sanity

            Canada…world capital of internet porn. You should be very proud. Next time you're standing in line for health care, remember what you said about the US before you decide to come south for treatment.

  • Outsider looking In

    finally a smart person… thankyoufor realizing that i am not putting anyone down. i am just fighing for human rights for all people and fare jusgment with an educated background.

    Amused two thumbs up!

  • Ronald Johnston

    The military will take over the country and Egypt will be better for it! People who have lived under a dictator do not understand what it would be like to be free. It will have to be a long learning process to get them to adapt!

  • Outsider looking In

    Sir i am from Canada and i have every right to comment on my opinions. if you take it wrong then you have to question yourself why you are so insulted. sometimes we react like then when we don't want to believe the truth. is any country perfect????? so there will be criticism that's life. its up to you how you let me words affect you. its just words and opinion. For a group of people that dont like to be insulted you sure have insulted me and the countries you think i live in a lot worse. but of course you wont realize that and continue to hate instead of opening your minds to learn from others and grow. keep closed minded and others will continue to treat you the same.

    if youdont like what i write dont read it its actually that simple sir.