Friend in Cairo said his hash dealer called, advised him to stock up "before the chaos."
- Tom Gara (@tomgara) June 24, 2012
So here are a few links about Mohamud Morisi, Egypt's newly elected president. CNN mentioned within a few minutes of the announcement of his election that he was American educated, having a doctorate in something or other and was on faculty in the California university system. Also, two of his five children were born in the US and are American citizens. Within minutes the Fox reporter on the scene in Cairo, never wanting to miss a chance to stir up confilict as soon as possible, was already asking whether Egypt would now become another Iran. CNN, not to be left out, followed up a short time later with the same query. Islamaphobia sells.
Over the next few days and weeks break out the popcorn and salt. Plenty of salt, cuz lots of what's being said will need more than a few grains of salt. Americans should know by now that with electoral politics not to believe anything you read and hear and only half of what you see.
The Muslim Brotherhood is in many ways the founder of modern Islamist movements, with roots extending back 84 years. Though it long ago abandoned violence as a political tactic, and was harshly repressed by ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his predecessors, it remains a highly controversial organization. In US political circles, it's hardly uncommon to hear to the organization mentioned in the same breath as terrorist groups like Al Qaeda. More reasonably, many Egyptians fear the organization will seek to replace Egypt's civil code with Islamic law. After all, the group's primary slogan is "Islam is the solution."
But the organization also has a history of pragmatism, and caution. Egypt is waiting for a national address from their new president any moment now, and all indications from the Brotherhood is that it will be conciliatory, with promises from Morsi to include secular-leaning Egyptians in his new government. Downtown Cairo was flooded with Morsi supporters, celebrating the stunning turn of events: A man once imprisoned for political crimes by Mr. Mubarak is now president -- Mubarak is now in jail, and will probably end his days there.
?Brother Number One
Should Americans be worried about the man who might be Egypt's next president: the Muslim Brotherhood's curious second choice, Mohamed Morsi?
The Brotherhood has found itself doing a difficult dance, thinking one thing in private and saying another in public. Such mixed messages are also a function of the love-hate schizophrenia that many Brotherhood members -- and Egyptians in general -- seem to display toward the United States. I remember the early days of Barack Obama's presidency, when Brotherhood officials would complain bitterly about the White House's disinterest in democracy promotion. "For Obama, the issue of democracy is 15th on his list of priorities," one Brotherhood official told me in May 2010. "There's no moment of change like there was under Bush."
It is true that the Brotherhood, along with most of Egypt, hates particular U.S. policies, particularly those related to Palestine. It also tends to think that somehow -- usually through creative, indirect means -- the United States is responsible for various nefarious plots against Egypt. But that doesn't mean that a Brotherhood-dominated government would immediately reorder Cairo's international alliances. For all the public vitriol, the Brotherhood actually feels more comfortable with America than it does with America's adversaries: "The U.S. is a superpower that is there and will be there, and it is not to anyone's benefit to have this superpower going down, but we want it to go up with its values and not with its dark side," one senior Brotherhood official told me. "What are the values driving China across the globe?... It's just pure profit. The Russians and the Chinese, I don't know their values! Western European and American core values of human rights and pluralism -- we practiced this when we were living there."
?Meet the Islamist Political Fixer Who Could Be Egypt's Next President
(This New Republic piece is from April.)
Morsi's sudden emergence as the Muslim Brotherhood's standard-bearer represents a tremendous change in his role within the organization. For much of the past decade, Morsi has been a behind-the-scenes player, performing two key functions that were vital to the Brotherhood's external security and internal discipline.
First, for the final four years of Hosni Mubarak's reign, Morsi was the primary point-of-contact for State Security within the Muslim Brotherhood. State Security was the repressive domestic security apparatus through which the Mubarak regime monitored and infiltrated opposition groups, and Morsi negotiated with State Security to ensure the Brotherhood's participation in various political endeavors, such as parliamentary elections. "Mohamed Morsi has very good security relations," former deputy supreme guide Mohamed Habib told me during a March 2011 interview. "State Security likes a connection point who has the confidence of various Brothers, and [top Brotherhood leaders] pushed for him." Indeed, Brotherhood leaders trusted Morsi because they viewed him as ideologically rigid, and therefore unlikely to concede too much to the regime during negotiations. Brotherhood leaders also believed that Morsi's longtime political experience, including his membership in the Brotherhood's political division since 1992 and leadership of the Brotherhood's parliamentary bloc from 2000 to 2005, made him an effective negotiator.
?Democracy v. Oligarchy, Round 2
If I must choose the smartest voice from all that are commenting, Baheyya is the one getting my vote. She rarely comments but when she does her observations are accurate and insightful.
It's real cause for celebration that the counter-revolution, with all its might, still failed to capture the presidency via the ballot box. For the first time, an unremarkable civilian will become president of Egypt. True, he's the choice of a slim majority in an imperfect election, but compared to his predecessors, Mohammad Morsi is the most democratically-chosen national leader in Egyptian history.
Perhaps now we can look forward to the disappearance of the ridiculous nuisance Ahmed Shafiq, though we must think hard about the conditions that compelled 12 million people to vote for him. I also can't help marveling at the discipline and commitment of all those voters who chose Morsi, not because they like him or his organization, but because they know that the grand struggle is to rid Egypt of foreign-backed oligarchic military rule.
Mohammad Morsi is a very odd figure to spearhead that struggle, not just because he lacks any visible leadership qualities, but because he and his fellow party apparatchiks are themselves oligarchs, although of the civilian kind. Morsi is a stand-in for Khairat al-Shater, the Muslim Brothers' real leader. Shater is the consummate party oligarch, with only a reluctant appreciation for the practice and doctrine of popular sovereignty. That's why the Americans love him so much; he's an "impressive" man they can do business with.
To add an even greater hurdle, from day one the SCAF knew that it faced the juggernaut of popular sovereignty, so it quickly did an end-run around it. By dissolving parliament and grabbing its power, stipulating that the president swear the oath before unelected judges and keep his hands off the military's fiefdom, and establishing a veto over the constitution-writing process, SCAF effectively stopped the exercise of popular sovereignty before it could begin.
A hamstrung president who hails from a party of oligarchs is hardly the leader many of us wanted to launch the offensive against military rule. That's why this election has the feel of a Pyrrhic victory. But then when I think about the ghastly alternative, of Shafiq winning and SCAF cementing its rule with democratic legitimacy, I'm filled with joy at the election's sub-optimal but not disastrous outcome.
Limping but proud, the revolution continues its valiant fight against the evils of oligarchy.
When Baheyya says Morsi is an al-Shater proxy I believe her. This NY Times article about him is important.