Unless Egyptian politics are among your father’s most cherished hobbies, it’s possible that you missed the swirl of election news out of Cairo yesterday. Here’s what happened:
The Muslim Brotherhood (unsurprisingly) predicted that its own candidate, Mohamed Morsi, had pulled out a decisive electoral victory over Ahmed Shafik, a former Air Force general and the last prime minister selected by Hosni Mubarak before he was deposed. In pro-athlete fashion, Morsi thanked God for his victory. And so ended the first-ever free Egyptian presidential election, an affair marked by various boycotts, a low voter turnout, and accusations of fraud. One of the simmering controversies involved the decision by Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court to allow Shafik to run some two days before the election, despite the law forbidding Mubarak-era officials from holding office.
But of much greater consequence were the actions of the Egyptian military, which dissolved the Egyptian Parliament on Friday and then wrote its very own constitution on Sunday. Aided by Mubarak-appointed judges, the military guaranteed itself powers that would greatly dwarf the role of the new Egyptian president (whoever that might ultimately be). Through the interim document, the military will have immunity from oversight, total power of the purse, and control of all laws.
So, what does all this mean? In the short term, it means that military rule in Egypt is not going away just yet. It could also mean that the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi, ostensibly the popularly elected Islamist president of Egypt, may take their case to their streets, perhaps violently. They may find some support. Egyptians are tired of military rule, and the Muslim Brotherhood knows it.
With news of some flare-ups on the border between Israel and Egypt this morning (as well as reports that the rocket fire that hit Israel on Friday came at the behest of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt), renewed instability in Egypt is unwelcome news.