Evangelos Venetis: Mursi in Power: Democratic elections in Egypt and the rivalry between Islam and the Military
July 11, 2012
Mursi is the first ever democratically elected president in the modern history of Egypt and this is a major development in the efforts of democratic powers of the country to sideline the power of the military in regard to the latter’s firm control of the domestic political scene. After the victory of the Islamic Brotherhood, many challenges lie ahead for Mursi; for instance the reorientation of Egypt’s new foreign policy, a new social policy and mostly the consolidation of the Islamists in power, something that presupposes the total defeat of the military. How far could Mursi go?
Mursi’s main focus is on the domestic political scene without ignoring the regional challenges he faces. Actually his decisions on important issues such as the Palestinian cause, Egypt-Israel relations as well as Cairo’s ties with key regional countries in Islamic terms, such as Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia are expected to influence the public opinion in Egypt and enable him further to increase his role and proceed to domestic reforms. Mursi’s foreign policy has a single aim: to make Egypt the political centre of the Islamic world. Mursi’s Islamic foreign policy is expected to support Hamas actively and deal favorably with the Palestinians regarding Raffah. He will minimize relations with Israel and expand relations primarily with Turkey, and less with Iran, although Mursi will probably re-initiate actively Iran-Egypt diplomatic relations.
Reform is the keyword in regard to Mursi’s future domestic policy which constitutes the core of his presidency. Mursi came to power in order to change entirely or partially the secular character of Egypr’s political system. The Islamization and democratization of politics and society is a desideratum for the Islamic Brotherhood. Yet the Islamists know well that in order to be successful they must take control of the army and intelligence which currently are under the military. Apparently Mursi is at the very beginning of a long struggle between the army and the Islamists for the essential control of the country. Whether he is successful or not, it will depend on how influential he can be in the middle ranks of the military. The situation resembles very much that of Erdogan’s struggle with the Turkish military and Mursi is going to emulate some of the techniques of the Islamist Turks. Yet the situation in Egypt is very different given that Egypt has not undergone the secularization process of the middle-urban class in the same degree and extent that Turkey has. This means that the Islamic Brotherhood, regardless of the moderate profile of its top leaders, is expected to act more radically than it has done so far. If so, then the struggle with the military is going to be intense and painful for everyone in Egypt.
It is evident that Mursi’s election as the new president of Egypt will not have essential repercussions for the domestic and foreign policy of Egypt, unless Mursi is able to compromise currently with the military. Such a compromise will be evident in every act and decision of Mursi who will be tested every day in an effort to find the middle ground in a state where everything takes place under the watchful eye of the military. If Mursi fails to compromise, then he will be out of the picture one way or another.Author : Evangelos Venetis