Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Egypt deserves a brand new system

“MAY all your days be interesting!” a Chinese proverb says. It is meant as a curse!

It seems our region has been living in interesting days since an unemployed Tunisian college graduate set himself on fire after his fruit stand was confiscated and no one seemed to care. Even worse, like all the nobodies in our world, he was slapped in the face and pushed around by a policewoman.

Without knowing it, he opened a Pandora’s box in the Arab world and beyond. The Arab Spring is generating many interesting stories that never seem to end as expected.

Here is a good one. Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, was upgraded and downgraded -overnight! For some, he was no longer the “Leader,” praised by the superpowers of the world, as well as the Arab street, for saving the day in Gaza.

He had just brokered a ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians, but went on to issue a presidential decree giving himself dictatorial powers.

For others, he was elevated in status for hitting back at a thoroughly corrupt judiciary with a constitutional decree.

All it took was a short TV announcement to take Egypt back to the Mubarak days of violent protests and street fights between supporters and opponents, civilians and troops.

Could Morsi be the same president who seemed like a complete contrast to his predecessor only days earlier? Could he be the same leader whose strong and proactive stand on the Gaza war put Egypt back in the Arab leadership seat? Is he the same person who deserved to be called affectionately “Al-Rais” or “Boss” by most Egyptians, as they did the populist Jamal Abdul Nasser and to a lesser extent, Anwar El Sadat? Can such an honor be instantly withdrawn or confirmed over one decree? How controversial that decision must be!

Interesting questions for interesting events, in a very interesting saga. It is hard to find good answers, but one may at least try.

It is all about mood, I reckon. The Arab street would never agree to be ignored by the board, especially on decisions affecting its governing system. The people have just taken their seats at the decision-making table and are in no mood to leave the executive room - ever!

“Today is the day to make or break our future. It is now we design our fate,” seems to be the thinking of the day.

That explains the strong reaction to every decree that may affect the constitution.  Whether in Yemen, Jordan, Kuwait, or now in Egypt, the public, elite and street react like fireworks in their agreement or disagreement with such changes.

My guess is that Egyptians know exactly what they are doing.  So do Arab observers. Those supporting “Al-Rais” believe that the die-hard “folool” of the corrupt Mubarak system were plotting a counter attack that would override Morsi’s presidential powers and bring back the military and old regime.

The least the Constitutional Court aims for is the disruption of Morsi’s work and the protection of the old structure. They already did so by dissolving the elected parliament and have threaten to do the same to the Consultative Council and Constitution Committee, while absolving Mubarak and company of any and all wrongdoings.

Morsi’s preemptive strike may be an evil necessity that can only be understood and justified in its own context and within the full picture.  

I hope and pray it works and that Morsi does deliver on his promise that in three months time he will return to the new parliament all the temporary powers he has taken. In the meanwhile, corrupt officials and “folool” should be purged from the military, security, judiciary and government. New Egypt deserves a brand new system.

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