Morsi grabs dictatorial powers in Egypt; Update: Protests, clashes erupt in Egypt
posted at 9:46 am on November 23, 2012 by Ed Morrissey
Say, how has Barack Obama’s Arab Spring policy worked out for us so far? Well, we bombed one dictator out of power in Libya, which set that nation free … to have terrorist networks openly operate and control the eastern part of the country, which resulted in the sacking of our consulate in Benghazi, and four American deaths. In Egypt, we pushed our longtime ally out of power after just eight days of peaceful protests, and then insisted on immediate elections in which only the radical Muslim Brotherhood could organize effectively — and they took over the government and the military.
But at least Egypt transitioned to democracy, right? Right? Er … didn’t The Who warn us about not getting fooled again?
Egypt’s president on Thursday issued constitutional amendments that placed him above judicial oversight and ordered the retrial of Hosni Mubarak for the killing of protesters in last year’s uprising.
Mohammed Morsi also decreed immunity for the Islamist-dominated panel drafting a new constitution from any possible court decisions to dissolve it, a threat that had been hanging over the controversial assembly. …
The Egyptian leader also decreed that all decisions he has made since taking office in June and until a new constitution is adopted and a new parliament is elected — which is not expected before next spring — are not subject to appeal in court or by any other authority. He also barred any court from dissolving the Islamist-led upper house of parliament, a largely toothless body that has also faced court cases.
But hey, these are just window-dressing issues, right? Morsi is still accountable under the law, unlike that monster Hosni Mubarak, who only represented US interests and defended peace with Israel for over thirty years. He’s still constrained by the new democratic law that the Muslim Brotherhood ushered into Cairo in the Arab Spring.
Actually … no:
The moves effectively remove any oversight on Morsi, the longtime Muslim Brotherhood figure who became Egypt’s first freely elected president last summer after the Feb. 11, 2011 fall of autocrat Hosni Mubarak. They come as Morsi is riding high on lavish praise from President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for mediating an end to eight days of fighting between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers.
Morsi not only holds executive power, he also has legislative authority after a previous court ruling just before he took office on June 30 dissolved the powerful lower house of parliament, which was led by the Brotherhood. With two branches of power in his hands, Morsi has had repeated frictions with the third, the judiciary, over recent months.
“Morsi today usurped all state powers & appointed himself Egypt’s new pharaoh,” pro-reform leader Mohamed ElBaradei wrote on his Twitter account. “A major blow to the revolution that could have dire consequences.”
So we went from having a US-friendly dictator who managed to keep a lid on the Muslim Brotherhood and enforced the peace treaty with Israel, to having a dictator from the Muslim Brotherhood in charge of the Suez Canal. And the only people who couldn’t apparently predict this very outcome were the people in the White House proclaiming their foreign policy as “smart power.”
Update: Looks like the Egyptian people just figured out what The Who meant:
Opponents and supporters of Mohammed Morsi clashed across Egypt on Friday, the day after the president granted himself sweeping new powers that critics fear can allow him to be a virtual dictator. At least 15 were reported injured.
In a sign of deepening polarization, state TV reported that protesters burned offices of the political arm of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood group on several cities on the Suez Canal east of Cairo and in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria, while Islamists engaged with fistfights with Morsi opponents in southern Egypt.
Tens of thousands of pro-democracy activists meanwhile converged on Cairo’s Tahrir Square, angered at the decisions by Morsi. The decrees include exempting himself from judicial review, as well as a panel writing the new constitution and the upper house of parliament, and the power to enact any other measure he deemed necessary to deal with a “threat” to Egypt’s “revolution.”
Morsi’s powers are supposed to be temporary — until a new constitution and new parliamentary elections take place — and feed on the belief among the public that judicial officials appointed under ousted President Hosni Mubarak are blocking the reform of state institutions.
Yes, because temporary dictatorships always end well. If I recall correctly, Mubarak himself similarly used emergency decrees to rule Egypt for decades. Meet the new boss, etc etc etc.
Update: Fox has some video of the clashes in Tahrir Square:
Looks like either smoke or teargas on the street.