Saturday September 5, 2015
Israel Hayom
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Tahrir revisited
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Boaz Bismuth

Morsi's worst nightmare

In his worst nightmares Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi never imagined celebrating the one-year anniversary of his swearing-in ceremony hidden away in the presidential guard's headquarters.

Millions of enraged Egyptians, preparing to take to the streets and squares Sunday to demand his departure, are threatening his life. The protest signs raised in Tahrir Square in 2011 are now reappearing. The slogans are the same, but this time Morsi has replaced Mubarak as the focus of the vitriol. The Israeli flag has also been brought back to the streets by the liberal youth, again in the role of the enemy. Egypt is at the boiling point.

It was foreseeable that Egypt would experience a rough road following the revolution. Morsi never fully understood the importance of a proper political system, which could have provided an outlet for the people to let off steam. In Morsi's Egypt, political institutions are unmanned. The Egyptian People's Assembly (parliament) was disbanded by the Supreme Constitutional Court last June. The Senate became the legislative body and, at the beginning of this month, was also declared unlawful. The judicial branch and the legislative branch have not ceased butting heads and are delaying all proposals to plan new parliamentary elections. Meanwhile, the economic situation is only worsening.

The International Monetary Fund, despite good intentions, is struggling to grant the loan that Egypt so desperately needs because Morsi's government has been unable to meet the IMF's stipulated conditions. The IMF is demanding that the Muslim Brotherhood implement structural reforms on the state level, which would force it to disconnect from its support base among the people. It's no surprise that Egypt is losing its credit.

The Muslim Brotherhood turned to the Gulf states for help. The Egyptian street, historically prideful, was unhappy with the request for assistance. Cairo, "Umm al-Dunya" ("Mother of the World"), is used to being the leader of the Arab world, not its beggar. Rising inflation, mass unemployment, a flow of tourists that has become a trickle, dwindling foreign investments; at this rate even the Sphinx will cry out for help.

This impossible situation makes it difficult for Morsi to depend on democracy, which brought him to power in the first place. The Egyptian people don't see new elections on the horizon, so they have moved the fight back to the streets. Suffice it to say, the military and opposition have also been instrumental in the country's failure. The army determined the rules of the game after the Mubarak era, while the opposition never managed to present a leader capable of challenging the Muslim Brotherhood.

On top of all this is the increasing lack of personal security in Egypt. Since the revolution, the police have lost their deterrence capabilities. The lynching of four Shiites in a Cairo suburb highlights the dangers today for religious minorities in Egypt, particularly for the Shiites amid events in Syria.

The Salafists are also not helping the Muslim Brotherhood. Quite the opposite: They have identified Morsi's distress and, counting on the Egyptian people's traditional religious observance, are plotting their inheritance.

What can we expect moving forward? The opposition planned today's mass protest two months in advance. Morsi's speech last Wednesday only exacerbated matters. He will not give in.

The army must not be discounted. For 18 months following the Mubarak era, the generals ruled the country before being dismissed by Morsi. Today they have an opportunity to exact revenge. They won't necessarily ask Morsi to step down, firstly because it is not an easy situation to inherit, and secondly because Washington supports the elected president, even if it is Morsi. The military, however, can force Morsi to make concessions.

There is also the option of a civil war (if Morsi unleashes his people). But other options also exist, such as holding early elections or forming a new coalition government with the liberal camp.

From his cell, in the meantime, Mubarak is watching how in less than a year Morsi has become the 11th plague of Egypt.

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