On a day where the American media debated relentlessly and nonsensically the Paul Ryan VP pick and their European brethren salivated over the vacuous pageantry that finished London 2012 Egypt’s president Muhammad Mursi made a series of moves that in the long run will make the first two events only the forgotten conclusion to a long running joke. The man in one stroke removed the Egyptian military leadership as an obstacle to implementing the Muslim Brotherhood’s agenda for that country and to use the Egyptian state as a vehicle in an attempt to implement that same agenda across the Middle East.
First I will state openly that the usual suspects, our friends the pundits in the Western media who have sought to diminish the Muslim Brotherhood’s role in the Egypt’s upheaval since the first protests broke out against Mubarak eighteen months ago, would not agree with that last statement. These would say that it is an absurd opinion and this is just another move in the long struggle between the Brotherhood and the military and is probably just a sign of rivalry between generals and certainly not anything like the Brotherhood cementing its control over the Egyptian state. Pay them no mind. They are either fools or enablers, and we must move on if we are to learn anything from these events. So what did Egypt’s president do?
Muhammad Mursi moved his chief rival the defense minister and chairman of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) Field Marshall Muhammad Hussein Tantawi out the door into retirement (http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/08/12/egypt-army-idINL6E8JC2IF20120812) and assumed the role of chairman of SCAF himself. He then abrogated SCAF’s constitutional declarations of June that reserved legislative authority and military budgetary authority to SCAF and transferred these back to the presidency which he holds. At this moment Mursi now holds all the cards in Egypt’s political life, with the authority to both write law and enforce it and to dispense money at will. Of course his office stated that these powers are only to be held until a new constitution is written and a new parliament elected but I sincerely hope that no one is holding their breath waiting for either of those two things to occur, at least in any legitimate fashion. Muhammad Mursi has made himself dictator of Egypt without firing a shot, and this has grave implications for Egypt, the Middle East, and the world at large.
It is important to understand that Egypt’s military has completely acquiesced to this move. All it would have taken was a couple of tanks moving in on the presidential palace to stop Mursi in his tracks, but no such thing happened. Even Tantawi himself seems to have gone rather quietly, an indication that he knew his time was up and his support had drained away. All this is very odd considering that SCAF was portrayed as the one holding all the cards and who would never let their position in Egyptian society be threatened, least of all by Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood. And since they are the ones who have all the guns the question to ask is just how Muhammad Mursi pulled this off?
Nobody seems to have a concrete answer to that question at the moment. Perhaps the coming days, weeks, months, and years will provide that answer but for the moment all we have is informed speculation based on a reasonable examination of the available evidence. Egypt’s president would not have contemplated this move if he had not felt one hundred percent certain of success. What gave him this assurance? Only some sort of base of support within the military itself would have given him this assurance. The question of how Muhammad Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood managed to gain a base of support in the military, the one institution in Egyptian society we were told that was implacably opposed to them, leads us into the realm of speculation. Perhaps the pundit class is correct and Mursi simply took advantage of the Sinai terror attacks and made a better offer than Tantawi to a group of generals to look the other way while the old Field Marshall was shuffled off to the nursing home, or perhaps it was something else…
The absolutely non-reported story of the Muslim Brotherhood’s rise to power in Egypt has been any suggestion of their infiltration into the military’s officer corps. Zero mention of this possibility is ever made in any analysis of the political situation in that country by any media figure. I do not know whether this is because these people assume that Mubarak’s intelligence apparatus would have stopped any Brotherhood move like this cold or they have another agenda, but it is time to start taking this possibility into consideration if we want to truly understand what is going on in Egypt.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s agenda is to restore Islam to its proper place in the world as they see it and they intend to do this both through domestic legislation and foreign policy. If they have managed to get the Egyptian military with all of its American equipment and US trained officer class on their side this will have dire consequences for the Middle East and the wider world.
Israel would be their first target. If Mursi keeps up his pattern of making unpredictable and dramatic moves the Jewish state will have to be constantly on watch over a border that has been neglected since the Egypt-Israel peace treaty of 1979. Another aspect is the issue of Iran: if Mursi with all of those F-16s starts making hostile moves toward Israel then would that country be willing to send the greater part of its air force one thousand miles away to strike Iran’s nuclear program. The Israeli Air Force has been the balance of power in the Middle East since it destroyed the Egyptian air force on the ground half a century ago to open the Six Day War. What if it suffered severe losses striking Iran? Israel’s massive military superiority over all of its enemies is generally taken for granted and such a thing is probably not even fathomed by most observers, but so many things have happened in the last couple of years that were never supposed to happen and it would be unwise to dismiss the possibility.
In any case Muhammad Mursi is not a technocrat. His mission in life is not to increase Egypt’s GDP, but to restore Islam to its rightful place in the world. This means that war is coming. I don’t know where or when exactly it will start, but it is coming as sure as the sun rises in the east.