December is approaching, and Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi is justified in considering himself a candidate for the cover of Time magazine as person of the year. In June, he won the Egyptian presidency, in August he fired the defense minister and strongest post-Mubarak figure Field Marshal Mohamed Tantawi, and in November he became a loyal ally to U.S. President Barack Obama. He most recently put himself above the law and extended his powers to the detriment of the legal system. Mohamed ElBaradei, his liberal rival, declared that Egypt has witnessed the arrival of a "new pharaoh."
Morsi is only 61, yet he has no time. Only five months in power and he has worked with such haste. Looking back at the Muslim Brotherhood's founding in Cairo by Imam Hassan al-Bana in 1928, it would surprise many to see the patience the Sunni movement has displayed. What should surprise us even more is how the developments right now are taking place with such strong backing from the West.
The West discovered Mohammed Morsi this week. After European powers reacted with visible embarrassment to Morsi's election in June, the violent protests that erupted after the circulation of a movie defaming the Muslim Prophet Muhammed had Washington wonder whether Mubarak was the better choice. But Operation Pillar of Defense managed to bring Morsi and the White House closer together. Obama ran things from the far East with late night phone conversations to Cairo and Jerusalem. During the talks Obama represented Israel and Morsi spoke on Hamas' behalf, and the two, according to the Western media, together represented the line of common sense. In the end Morsi delivered the goods.
But Morsi did not really have a choice. Cairo needs $2 billion of annual aid from Washington. On Tuesday, 24 hours before the announcement of a cease-fire, the International Monetary Fund announced that it would approve a $4.8 billion loan to Egypt. It's all tied together.
Robert Satloff, chairman of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, is less enthused with Morsi's performance. In an article he wrote for The New York Times, Satloff says Obama should not believe that Morsi will stray from his ideological roots. "You can shape his actions, but you cannot change his ideology," Satloff says.
Morsi has fired Egypt's veteran attorney-general, and issued a decree that prevents the constitutional court from dismantling any of the committees involved in the wording of the constitution and in the two houses of parliament, all of which are controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood.
It was reported that the Mossad chief was involved in the negotiations over Gaza with Egypt. More proof of the discretion that Morsi wished to have with Jerusalem. ElBaradei forgot to mention that the "new pharaoh" has a beard.