Changing the rules of the game

Morsi turned out to be a mastermind at scheming and hatching plots and making bold moves. In one swoop he:

  1. Neutered the dreaded SCAF
  2. Cut sweet deals with high members of the judiciary and the military 
  3. Singlehandedly canceled  amendments to the constitutional declaration and even rewrote bits of the constitutional declaration to give him more power

The events that transpired yesterday is still leaving many with their heads spinning. None expected the mighty SCAF could be so easily displace. Very few are questioning if his moves are legal or constitutional. Among the ranks of the revolutionaries, many are just happy to see SCAF gone, and that an elected president is asserting his powers. With regards to ridding rough-shoot over legal constraints, the logic is  “SCAF has already  done that before, many times, so why not a elected president”.

Yesterday, Morsi managed transform himself from a fumbling president to a national (or even supranational) leader. His powers seem to expanding without limit. During last night’s speech his tone, demeanor and words seemed to be of someone who is trying to attain full spiritual and corporeal powers in the manner of the “rightly guided caliphs” in the early days of Islam. He made sweeping allusions to the wider Muslim Ummah and the important role the Egypt must play in it. Morsi alluded to the divine mandate under which he sees himself operating. His said:

Islam has everything we need as we progress to stability, security, safety, renaissance, and development…. we move towards and better tomorrow. Do not worry, for it is God who protects this Ummah, not by my work, but through his will.

Morsi clearly sees himself as the executer of  divine will and the man most capable of gleaning solutions to the nation’s troubles via his elevated reading of Islam. Some went as far as seeing his speech as a veiled declaration of the “Islamic Republic of Egypt”. The new Caliph is in town, he gets make new rules and execute them at will. 

Many do not yet see it, but this is bad news for the revolution and the revolutionaries. Combining executive and legislation powers and having substantial influence over the judiciary is quite worrying. Morsi has more power than Mubarak ever did. History teaches us that power,once obtained, is rarely ceded without a fight.


Deflecting Criticism

If somebody raises an important and valid point with regards to a given political situation or fumbling leadership, the standard responses by many of the fans of the status quo to detract from the serious issues at hand is:

1. Where were you when X happened
2. In the past you did X or Y and hence have been labeled Z. How dare you bring that up now
3. Political group A or B used to do something similar while you looked on, how come you are now complaining
4. Your criticism stems from the fact that you HATE us, so it can not be taken seriously
5. Mr. A or Mrs. B who are universally acknowledged as scumbags are voicing a similar sounding criticism, hence your perspective on the matter has to be wrong.

All to these patterned responses would either put on the defensive or steer the discussion away from the issue that you are raising. Hence, shouting matches ensue, angry words are exchanged, frustration peaks and …. the issue remains unresolved.

If you are lucky enough to manage to neutralize all of  above points while maintaining a modicum of civility, the final line of defense is:

6. In this or that country they are also having a similar messy situation, why do you expect that we should be any better?

At this point my advice would be to just walk away from the discussion. Continuing at the point is likely to cause an artery to burst.


The fumbling president

The tide of mass frustration is welling up in Egypt once more. Most people did not have high hopes for president Morsi. Those who knew the complexities of the highly entangled governmental bureaucracy were highly skeptical of the electoral  promises for the first 100 days of his presidency.  However, it is quite surprising to many that he is fumbling so badly.

Lets go through litany of frustrations:

  1. Morsi formed a ministerial cabinet that is widely perceived to reflect his ideological leaning with little attention payed to competence or experiance
  2. Daily blackouts in major cities with little understanding of the root cause or the why the government did such a poor job at capacity planning. It also does not help that Morsi promised increase the flow of electricity to his friends in Gaza.
  3. Morsi is dragging his feet in releasing political prisoners that have been detained by SCAF and tried in sham military courts, yet he promptly pardon jihadists  who have been implicated in terror cases well before the revolution. 
  4. Morsi did little to quell the sectarian strife that  has flared up in Dahshur. It is believed by many that inaction in this matter will give rise to widespread attacks against Copts.
  5. The recent attack on Egyptian soldiers on the Gaza border. Morsi was slow to react and his administration did little to clarify what has really transpired to the population. 

Morsi will continue to be the lightening for anger and criticism if he continues to fails  at communicating with the country’s citizens. He seems to follow Mubark’s style of perpetual vagueness and opacity. As a member of an underground organization for most of his life, Morsi it grossly inept at being transparent or making the government in general more transparent.  His leadership abilities are now being questioned by many.

 Morsi’s Islamist supporters  try hard to spin his actions into something more palatable, yet the president seems determined to shoot himself in foot and presenting himself as a gruff rookie. Their frantic defense is eroding the little of what is of their credibility.

If Morsi were continue along the current trajectory, it is highly unlikely that he will survive his four year term.