Egyptian protesters call for Morsi to be ousted & put on trial
Looks like Egyptians aren’t taking the Muslimbrotherhoodization of their country sitting down. Protesters are now openly calling for President Mohammed Morsi – a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood – to be overthrown and placed on trial for crimes that include politically motivated murder.
Egypt is becoming so fragmented under Morsi’s dictatorial rule that the country’s military leader, General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’, warned that the state could disintegrate.
Egypt is splitting into various factions: generational, secular vs religious, Muslim Brotherhood vs everyone else, and now, regional. Even conservative Muslims are feeling a backlash against them because of Morsi.
The Associated Press reports from Port Said, the frontline city on the Mediterranean end of the Suez Canal:
“Egypt’s unrest began Thursday and accelerated the following day when clashes erupted nationwide amid protests by the opposition marking the two-year anniversary of the start of the uprising that toppled Mubarak. Port Said’s violence was touched off Saturday when a court issued death sentences against 21 people – mostly local soccer fans – over a bloody soccer riot in the city a year ago. Youths infuriated by the verdicts marched in the streets and clashed with police at a police station and the prison.
“The verdicts were seen by residents as unfairly targeting Port Said. They also tapped into a vein of resentment in a city of 600,000 that prides itself as a national symbol of resistance after being on the front lines of multiple wars with Israel since 1956.
“Many are convinced Morsi and the Brotherhood are trying to sideline the city because of a tradition of defying authority. They were further outraged when Morsi went on TV Sunday night and declared the state of emergency and curfew in Port Said, Suez and Ismailiya. Wagging his finger and shouting, Morsi supported the actions of police in confronting the protesters and warned of stronger measures if calm is not restored.”
Religious Egyptians who voted for Morsi are now showing buyers’ remorse. AP quotes one bearded Muslim man as lamenting, “Now people spit in the face of anyone with a beard because of Morsi.”
During a January 29 burial ceremony for youths shot dead by police enforcing Morsi’s repression in Port Said, “women in face veils screamed anti-Morsi slogans in the funeral march,” according to AP. “One woman, Faten el-Tahan, a government worker in a conservative Muslim headscarf, said she wished her ‘hands were cut off’ the day she voted for Morsi in last year’s presidential election.”
“My children told me not to vote for him,” she told AP. “I thought he was a faithful man who knows God. But he turned out to be not faithful and he doesn’t know God. I made a big mistake.”
Focus is on Muslim Brotherhood to back off
That “mistake” has allowed Egyptians to see the Muslim Brotherhood for what it is. Even General El-Sissi’, who was appointed by Morsi, has placed the greatest responsibility on the President.
According to AP, “The opposition contends the crisis is caused by Brotherhood attempts to monopolize power and can only be resolved if it makes major concessions to loosen its grip, including forming a national unity government and rewriting contentious parts of the Islamist-backed constitution.”
That monopolization of power, and the emergence of armed gangs in Egyptian cities, has severely damaged the tourist economy and daily economic life for the average citizen.
“The Brotherhood has dismissed those demands, and Morsi has instead invited the opposition to join a broad dialogue conference. The opposition has refused it as mere window dressing,” says AP. “The army chief’s comments suggested the military’s impatience with politicians’ power struggles.”
What the US should do
The United States government helped create this mess. Bailing out Morsi’s hated regime is no way to build bridges with the Egyptians. The US should endeavor to penalize the Morsi regime by blocking economic aid to the central government and undermining Morsi’s ability to finance political patronage. That means blocking bilateral programs to the factions of the central government under Morsi’s control, and blocking multilateral funding as with the IMF, and third-party bilateral funding such as that coming from the regime in Qatar.
Washington should also sell, finance or otherwise provide modern military hardware to the Egyptian military if and only if the Egyptian military helps push Morsi from power. The Egyptian armed forces need such weapons for their credibility and to show that they have the necessary international prestige – even if they intervene once again in Egyptian politics.
The default position for the US is generally to reduce or withhold military transfers to armed forces that intervene in politics. In the present-day case of Egypt, such military upgrades should be used as incentives for those armed forces specifically to intervene – or at minimum, not to intervene on behalf of the Morsi regime.
The US should also regularly highlight the Morsi regime’s abuses: human rights, civil rights, economic, police, and more. The credibility of the Muslim Brotherhood must also be highlighted here, providing that, in its first attempt to take office after winning a democratic mandate, the Brotherhood lived up to everything its critics predicted.