We note yet another hand in the Mideast version of "Egyptian Hold-'em Poker" as Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, a graduate of USC, bets most of the farm on using popular sentiment and Washington influence to disrupt the military's current position. The reader will recall that it was the Egyptian Army that dissolved parliament, promising normalcy before the end of 2012. We must credit Morsi with a bold temperament and a high tolerance for risk. This move was carefully calculated to use recent manifestations of national sentiment as expressed in the election as a massive lever to unbalance the military. Was the move approved in advance by the US?
The Muslim Brotherhood (MB), from which Morsi hails, is a well disciplined and long-viewed organization with the will and means to rule. We opine that the long and short term goals of this move are as follows:
- throw the Egyptian military off balance and put them into a reactive state, thus robbing them of political and social initiative
- capitalize on MB strengths (organizational depth, ideological cohesion, and ability to mobilize large numbers of people)
- reinstate an elected parliament where the MB enjoyed significant leverage
- pre-empt the occurrance of further constitutional crises that might be used by the military as and excuse to continue its "protectorate" status
- assert effective civilian control over the military
- purge the military of counterrevolutionary elements if possible
- restructure the military and populate key positions to eliminate the possibility of a military coup against what is to become an "Islamic Republic" species of central government
As Egypt struggles to find its footing as the Arab world’s newest — and largest — democracy, Morsi’s aggressive opening moves make it more likely that public confrontations between the two sides will follow. The dispute comes just days before an expected weekend visit by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. (read more)
The US now occupies a board position on which two chess pieces rest at opposing ends of the file, and the rook cannot take them both. At some point Washington will be forced to occupy an open position as opposed to the present which is deliberately hidden from both players. We opine, however that Washington has already decided to support the "popular" MB position which must include at least the short/long term factors we have noted above.
For President Obama, who telephoned both Mr. Morsi and General Shafik on Sunday, the crisis under way in Egypt has put him in an awkward position: champion of America's longtime foe, and critic of America's longtime ally. (read more)
The Egyptian military hierarchy is now in a weakened position. The military leaders understand that if they lose, their positions of power and influence (if not their lives when the inevitable purges begin) are at immediate risk. They also understand that Washington will not be coming to their rescue when the gallows are constructed in the public square. They also understand that if they use force to oppose the reassertion of power they will be publicly abandoned and disavowed by Washington and the end will be all the more unpleasant. We believe that Morsi's move was not undertaken in a vacuum, and that Washington was either complicit or at least fully informed before the venture was undertaken. Morsi's upcoming visit to the US is calculated to improve his standing at home, demonstrate the power of his connections to the US, and put the military at least on implicit notice that they must behave in a gentlemanly manner as they are defrocked.
This will be interesting to watch. Egypt is indeed a valuable prize in the game to dominate the Mideast.