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Iran Commentary Says Mursi Lacks Revolutionary Leader`s Charisma
Khorasan Online
Monday, December 10, 2012

Graffiti covers a wall and partial translation of Arabic that reads, "no to the Muslim Brotherhood constitution," in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Dec. 10, 2012. The Egyptian military on Monday assumed joint responsibility with the police for security and protecting state institutions until the results of a Dec. 15 constitutional referendum are announced. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

Commentary by Alireza Rezakhah: “Hard Days for [Muslim] Brotherhood”

For more than two weeks, street protests have been going on in different Egyptian cities. The decision of (President) Muhammad Mursi (or Mohamed Morsi), Egypt`s elected president, to give himself extra powers on a temporary basis in order to advance the goals of the revolution and to have a constitution that can emerge out of the parliament that has been elected by the people, had given rise to extreme reactions by secular forces and the supporters of the former regime. Those protests that were accompanied by attacks on the offices of Muslim Brotherhood throughout Egypt resulted in the death of eight members of that movement. In Egypt, the members of Muslim Brotherhood have experienced some very hard days and probably they would still have to face even harder days in the future, something that earlier on Muhammad Mehdi (or Mohammed Mahdi) Akef, the former head (murshed, also means guru or leader) of the Muslim Brotherhood, had warned about.

When Muslim Brothers announced their readiness to take part in the presidential election in Egypt, in an interview with al-Arabiya network, he had stressed: “When I expressed my heartfelt feeling to keep the Islamists away from seeking the presidency, I meant to say that under the present circumstances it is very difficult to lead the country, because the army with all the responsibilities that it has taken on its shoulders seems tired. Security is non-existent, the country`s economy is disrupted and tourism industry and the educational system are not in a better shape either.” The former head of the Muslim Brotherhood added: “In a word, these are difficult times, and if an Islamist becomes president he would face one of two options: If he succeeds he would personally become popular, and if his management (of the country) was not successful people would say that the Islamists had failed and had done wrong.”

The fact is that the young Muslim Brotherhood government of Egypt believed that by benefiting from the democratic experience of Turkey, in other words by controlling the military on the one hand and confronting the judiciary on the other hand, it would be able to establish a government structure in Egypt, which would be something between the Turkish and the (Saudi) Arabian models, a model that while being based on the Holy Islamic Shari`a would also benefit from the blessings of democracy. However, the lack of experience, haste and the lack of a proper understanding of the requirements of this particular time, on the one hand, and the coalition of secular movements, including the Nasserists (follower of the former nationalist President Gamal Abdel Nasser), the leftist and liberal parties, as well as those left over from (former President Hosni) Mubarak`s regime, and the purged military personnel who still have a big share in the Egyptian economy on the other hand, have meant that Cairo is now facing its severest political crisis since Mubarak`s downfall. Enough has been written about the role played by foreign agents and Western and Zionist interference in order to prevent the progress of democracy in Egypt. In this note (commentary) we will try to deal with the mistakes of the Muslim Brotherhood government that have resulted in a political dead-end in Egypt.

Excessive reliance upon foreign factors

The Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt believed that by the use of the lever of foreign pressure it could control (prevent) a military coup d`état, as was done by the Islamist government in Turkey. According to many analysts, the most important factor that prevented the Turkish military to repeat their constant scenario, namely a military coup d`état in order to protect the Kemalist identity of the Turkish system, was the heavy shadow of “membership in the European Union”. Furthermore, playing within the framework of international law and moving in line with Western interests were other factors that created a margin of security for the Justice and Development Party (in Turkey). Promising to safeguard the Camp David Agreement, sending an ambassador to Israel, and the decision of Muhammad Mursi`s government to remain within the framework of Mubarak`s foreign policy could also be understood in the same context (Egypt trying to imitate Turkey). Excessive reliance upon foreign factors in order to consolidate his domestic position could be seen as the biggest mistake of Muhammad Mursi and his advisors.

Not appreciating the requirements of the time

Mursi`s second tactical mistake was not appreciating the requirements of the time (in which he lived). In the midst of a revolutionary climate, Egypt expects to have a revolutionary government so that it can respond to the revolutionary uproar of the people. Otherwise, the revolutionary energy that has been released as the result of structural changes in the country cannot be kept at a standstill. The Muslim Brotherhood that is conservative by nature was not able to move in step with waves of young people in Tahrir Square who demanded change. Acting softly towards former military leaders and the counter-revolutionary structures that have been left behind from the time of the former regime have enabled those structures to pose as new revolutionaries and to ride the waves of popular demands for change, and now they have called for the downfall of Mursi`s government. Mursi`s team of political advisors tried to reach the position of post-revolutionary calm too quickly. Such sentiments are desirable in themselves. Nevertheless, as they are not in keeping with the requirements of the time they can give rise to various crises.

Lacking the necessary charisma

Unfortunately, Mursi personally lacks the necessary charisma of a revolutionary leader. Mursi, who was a spare candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood for presidential election, became victorious in the election after the rejection of the qualifications of Khairat Shater (or El-Shater) due to the historical and popular background of the Muslim Brotherhood. His efforts to achieve the necessary charisma, such as taking part in his first lecture without wearing a bulletproof vest, or his speech in the Non-Aligned Conference in Tehran, were not sufficient to provide him with the necessary charisma.

Nevertheless, what can be regarded as the strong point of the Muslim Brotherhood and its political leaders is their pragmatism and their ability to adapt themselves to the pressures of their environment. Mursi`s invitation to political figures last Saturday (December 8, 2012) to a meeting in order to get out of the recent dead-end was a good example of his ability. However, it should be admitted that it is only the start of the rivalry between the secular and Islamist movements in Egypt. That rivalry is the most deep-rooted and the most fundamental rivalry between political movements in Egypt`s future. Due to the presence and long history of secular groups in Egypt, including the leftist, liberal, Nasserist and nationalist groups, as well as some solid Islamic movements such as the Muslim Brotherhood and the Al-Azhar (religious seminary and university in Cairo), will give rise to a climate of healthy rivalry and interaction between those groups, in a way that will be different from what we are witnessing today.

(Description of Source: Mashhad Khorasan Online in Persian -- website of centrist daily published in Mashhad, backed by the powerful Martyrs Foundation; strongly supports Khomeyni`s economic ideals of total independence and self-sufficiency; URL:

© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.

Iran Commentary: Mursi `Succumbs` to Public Demand, Revokes Decree
E`temad Online
Monday, December 10, 2012

A woman walks in front of a mural of depicting Muslims that reads "Power and wealth to the people", in front of the presidential palace in Cairo December 5, 2012. Egypt`s Muslim Brotherhood called for a rally backing President Mohamed Mursi outside his palace on Wednesday and leftists planned a counter-demonstration, raising fears of clashes in a crisis over a disputed push for a new constitution. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

Commentary by Sasan Aqa`i: “Mursi Succumbed”

Nobody had expected this. If everything had moved forward in keeping with the forecasts, these days the Egyptian people and the Egyptian government should be getting ready to celebrate the second anniversary of their revolution. However, at the present time, one cannot see any sign of celebration in Cairo or Alexandria. A month before the second anniversary of the revolution, Egypt is witnessing a “Second Revolution” in its streets, a second revolution that people say is aimed at preventing “the revolution from being stolen”, for the sake of which they are prepared to pay any price and which has pushed back (President) Muhammad Mursi (or Mohamed Morsi) step by step.

On Thursday (7 December 2012), Muhammad Mursi said that he would neither cancel “the referendum on the constitution”, nor would he rescind “Mursi`s Decree”. On Friday, which the opponents had named the “Red Letter Day”, Muhammad Mursi was forced to retreat. After facing thousands of protestors around the Itihadiyya (Presidential) Palace who were chanting the slogan of “Murderer, Murderer Go”, the first post-revolutionary president was forced to speak of the postponement of the “referendum”, and a day later he was forced to make more compromises.

Mursi who had said that he had been ready to have a “dialog” with his opponents, after seeing that the coalition of his secular, nationalist, liberal and leftist opposition forces would not return to the negotiating table and would continue their political pressures in “the streets”, was finally forced to issue the order to “annul the constitutional decree”. In this way, on Saturday evening, Cairo witnessed the biggest victory for the opposition forces and the stamp of “cancelled” was put on Muhammad Mursi`s most controversial decree. Ten days earlier, by issuing that decree, he had put himself “above” all other political organizations in Egypt. On the basis of “Mursi`s Decree”, no organization, even the Supreme Constitutional Court, as the highest legal authority in Egypt, could not rescind Mursi`s Decree.

However, events did not advance the way that the president had predicted. Opposition forces poured into the streets, and since the issuing of that decree Cairo and Alexandria had not experienced a single calm day. The outcome was that Muhammad Mursi was forded to cancel “Mursi`s Decree”. (Muhammad) Salim Al-Awa, the Egyptian president`s advisor, announced that report in a press conference. He said that the president had reached that decision after “convening an extraordinary meeting between Mursi and some of his opposition figures in the presidential palace”. That meeting that Muhammad Mursi had called for was rejected by a number of opposition figures, led by Muhammad Al-Baradi`i (or Mohamed ElBaradei) and the Egyptian National Salvation Front. However, that meeting resulted in the opposition figures achieving their main demand, which was the “cancellation of Mursi`s Decree”. At the same time, Mursi`s deputy had stressed that, contrary to earlier reports, the “referendum on the draft constitution would be held as scheduled on 15 December”. Not only had the opposition figures demanded the cancellation of Mursi`s Decree, they had also insisted that the draft constitution that had been published had to be cancelled. The Egyptian draft constitution had been prepared by an assembly, which had a Muslim Brother majority among its members. Opposition figures say that “the draft constitution” limits the freedoms in Egypt, and that they are not prepared to take part in a referendum on that draft constitution.

Regarding the draft constitution, it was announced and he had said (as published, presumably Mursi had said) that if people did not accept the draft constitution, he would dismiss the constituent assembly and a new constituent assembly would be formed on the basis of people`s votes. However, after the clashes on Friday, Muhammad Mursi`s deputy announced “the postponement of the referendum on the constitution”, and that report was also confirmed by the National Election Committee.

Now, it seems that with the “cancellation of Mursi`s Decree”, in return for a concession that the president had made to his opponents he wanted to go ahead with the work on the draft constitution, and to receive a concession in return for the concession that he had made. However, it seems that opposition figures have clearly read his hand. After the cancellation of Mursi`s Decree, while at the same time confirming that the referendum would be held as had been announced, opposition forces said that “they would not leave the streets” and would continue with their protests. An opposition figure in an interview with international media said: “Contrary to the views of Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood, the issue of writing the constitution and its acceptance would not depend on the votes of the majority or a minority, because the constitution is a common agreement by all the people, and if there is a referendum it would only legitimize the constitution (sentence as published). The principle is that the constitution should be agreed by all and that it is a national covenant, and the draft constitution does not satisfy those conditions that it can be made legitimate as the result of the votes of the majority.”

Last night, Muhammad Al-Baradi`, Hamdin (or Hamdeen) Sabahi, and Amr Musa were due to express their views in a press conference. It is expected that the leaders of the Egyptian National Salvation Front would demand the protests to continue and the draft constitution to be rescinded. It seems that Muhammad Mursi`s retreat from his decree has put the opposition forces in a better position for dictating their views to the Egyptian government. It also seems likely that Muhammad Mursi is prepared to retreat again. Political observers believe that the statement of the armed forces and their dissatisfaction about the continuation of the clashes in Egypt has put the government under pressure to restore calm to the society. As a result, Mursi would be forced to put an end to the protests because the armed forces` statement has said: “it would no longer tolerate violence and instability and any threats to national security”. These pressures may force the president who has achieved power as the result of the revolution to submit once again to his opposition forces. Today and tomorrow, the streets of Cairo will convey their message to Muhammad Mursi.

(Description of Source: Tehran E`temad Online in Persian -- Website of pro-reform Tehran daily that supported Mehdi Karrubi and then Mir Hoseyn Musavi)

© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.


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