Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 08, 2012

The Egyptian Struggle Will Continue

The Angry Arab, As'ad AbuKhalil, agrees with David Ignatius (and me) that the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood is cahoots with Washington DC.

Ignatius:

[L]et’s be honest: The Obama administration has been Morsi’s main enabler.
AbuKhalil:
[T]here is clear evidence that the two governments have been working closely together.
Antother enabler of the Brotherhood are the editors of the Guardian. Their editorial today is so lopsided pro-Morsi that it is laughable.
In pre-empting a decision by the constitutional court to derail his constitution, his decree was cast too wide. The final draft of the constitution has many faults, although none are set in stone. The opposition on the other hand has never accepted the results of freely held elections, parliamentary or presidential, and is doing everything to stop new ones being held.
The editrial and especially its last sentence are simply wrong. Even the Guardian's own correspondent in Cairo denounced it:
Jack Shenker ‏@hackneylad
Let me say once again, I totally disassociate myself from this @Guardian editorial on #Egypt - it's offensive & wrong

The argument why Morsi's side is wrong is simple. The referendum in March 2011 won 77% approval with majority of eligible voters voting. That referendum set out the process to get to a new government and to a new constitution. It also included the modified old constitution. There were checks and balances in there and those included the judiciary being able challenge the legislative or executive when it saw them breaking the law.

By issuing his decrees and giving himself immunity Morsi did away with that.

So a 77% approval was overruled by someone who barely won 50% of the votes in a run off election with even less voters participating. This after receiving only some 25% in the first round of the election.

By issuing his decrees, likely in coordination with Washington, Morsi broke the rules a wide majority had voted for. That is what the protest are mainly about. (For other reasons the protesters have see this excellent overview of the various Egyptian interest groups.)

One argument against the protest is that the alternative to Morsi is the renewed rule of the military. But the military has never left the stage:

Accusations that, by stalling the political process, the opposition is courting a coup misread the military’s role in the current crisis. The army is equally invested in the existing draft constitution, which keeps their core prerogatives intact: a secretive budget, officers’ control over the Defense Ministry, a strong say in national security decisions and the right to try civilians in military courts. The generals are relieved to have found a civilian partner who can manage day-to-day political affairs, while ensuring that the military has the autonomy to pursue its own interests outside the purview of democratic oversight. These concessions are consistent with the Muslim Brothers’ pattern of refusing to stand up to the generals whenever their own path to power has been at stake.
The military, paid largely by Washington, is so in bed with Morsi that he can call on it to suppress further protests:
President Mohamed Morsy will soon issue a law that will give judicial and protective powers to the military, according to the state-run Al-Ahram website.

Drafted with the participation of army leaders, the law will task the armed forces with maintaining security and protecting vital installations in the state, until a new constitution takes effect and legitimate parliamentary elections are held.

This is martial law. What is Morsi now but a dictator backed by the military and under Washington's political control?

Whoever hopes that such an alliance will somehow evolve into democratically legitimated, independent foreign and domestic policies that reflect the values of the Egyptians is wrong. Very wrong.

But that is what the Egyptians had hoped for. That is why the struggle will continue.

Posted by b on December 8, 2012 at 08:26 AM | Permalink

Comments
What is Morsi now but a dictator backed by the military and under Washington's political control?

Well, Morsi is certainly trying to hold a referendum and is confident he will win.

Morsi is backed by the military, but a large number of high level Mubarak-era military officials, not just Tantawi, were removed over the summer.

This is the exact type of question that should be put before the Egyptian people to vote on. If the Egyptian people don't approve of the constitution, the proper forum for them to express that disapproval is a referendum. There is only one side trying to avoid a referendum. No amount of excuses can dodge that.

Elections are a non-violent way - the best non-violent way - to measure support. When the opposition rejects elections, at best it is naively turning to violence in a way that will cost Egyptian lives before ending in an Islamist victory that the Islamists should have gotten peacefully at the ballot box. And at worst it is gambit that the opposition can get (foreign) supporters who are not eligible to vote to outweigh the voters of Egypt.

It is inherently violent to say we do not accept a referendum, we want to decide this dispute in rival protests on the streets. The opposition which by now clearly is trying to prevent a referendum cannot be reconciled with democracy at this point.

Posted by: Arnold Evans | Dec 8, 2012 8:40:25 AM | 1

I neither like nor trust Morsi, but it is hard to deny he has the votes to win the referendum. I would say the referendum is flawed in that it only is a yes/no vote on one constitution rather than a choice between two constitutions, one of which submitted by the opposition. Opposition leaders should have by now written another constitution and demanded it be included in the referendum. That way they could argue they are staying within the democratic framework by offering the people an additional choice. Saying we don't want a vote looks bad.

I agree the referendum is somewhat flawed in that many people will vote for the constitution simply because they want a return to normal, not because they like it. Almost ANY constitution would be approved under such circumstances. But opposition leaders are blowing their chance to offer an alternative.

Also, protesters are burning MB and FJP offices throughout the country. Arson doesn't fall under the rubric of peaceful protesting.

That said, Morsi is indeed in bed with the West. An argument can be made that he is doing the minimum to avoid having the economy crippled, but I'm not persuaded.

Posted by: Lysander | Dec 8, 2012 9:45:09 AM | 3

But, at the end of the day, Morsi was elected and will face the challenge of re-election down the line. He is answerable to the electorate.

I agree with the first poster, "Elections are a non-violent way - the best non-violent way - to measure support". We saw the same tactic used Syria where the oppposition boycotted the constitutional referendum - a means to disguise their minority support.

However, I agree that Morsi's Government is in bed with the Obama administration. But with the country so reliant on US "aid", can the brotherhood afford not to be?

The same, the US Government hopes, will be true in Syria, where future US "redevelopment aid" will bag another middle-eastern lacky.

Posted by: Pat Bateman | Dec 8, 2012 10:09:18 AM | 4

Lysander, I don't think the people of Egypt would prefer a constitution produced by ElBaradei and the opposition to one produced by the MB, and I don't think ElBaradei thinks so either. There are probably more people in Egypt who think the constitution is too secular than think it is too Islamist. ElBaradei is not blowing an opportunity as much as acknowledging that his support is from a passionate minority in the country and people outside of the country.

I want Egypt to get to where the parliament is able to issue pronouncements about the conflict with Zionism and Egypt's relationship with the United States and Israel can be a subject of presidential debates between actually popular candidates vying for support from the people of Egypt.

ElBaradei at this point stands for delaying the process of reaching that point, because, unlike most of the people of Egypt, does not want the Muslim Brotherhood to set policy in Egypt.

Morsi also was never the first choice of the people of Egypt. The SCAF - during the Tantawi era - banned the MB politician who most likely would have gotten more support than Morsi. I'm not sure Morsi would run for reelection, but he can't run for reelection twice. But the SCAF won't be banning politicians in the next presidential election.

The process that has started has the most potential to gracefully and non-violently put Egyptian policy back under the authority of Egypt's voters. The opposition does not have the votes to credibly or legitimately challenge the MB for the right to set Egypt's domestic and foreign policy.

Posted by: Arnold Evans | Dec 8, 2012 10:22:00 AM | 5

We are all agreed. Washington is backing Morsi. And Washington is backing the Opposition.
It is hedging its bets because its only concern is that popular opinion, which is enormously opposed to Israel, may prevail. If it does US Foreign policy, as it has evolved since 1945, will be in ruins. And the whole world could erupt. Even Europe may slip Washington's reins and opt for independence.

The US doesn't care what the Egyptian Constitution says-it doesn't much care what the US Constitution says. Imperial power is, normally, exerted through the "markets", controlling economies, dictating social policies. Then there are bribes. And the military.

The US controls Europe's foreign policy, despite European interests, in large part because most ordinary people are indifferent to it. Just as in the USA, most people are too tired and bemused to differ from the ideology fed them by propagandists.

The question in Egypt is whether the people will continue to stomach the affront, which Israel's genocidal policies constitute, for the mere satisfaction of watching scum, in the form of kleptocrats and torturers, rise to the top of their society while the poor get poorer and more numerous. Such were the dividends of Sadat's "peace".
The most important thing is that the revolution continues: once power has an address and a phone number the imperialists know who to talk to and what to say. When power is dispersed among millions of people and dozens of factions the Empire can only wish that it had "one neck" to be wrung.

Posted by: bevin | Dec 8, 2012 10:46:05 AM | 6

Arnold, I'm not at all sure about that. Morsi only barely won against Ahmad Shafik, who was as close to Mubarak as one can get, without actually being him. I know a lot of people who only voted for Morsi because the alternative was a vindication of the Mubarak era. A well written secular constitution would have stood a chance, and if it lost, would at least position the opposition well for future elections.

As it is now, they are easily painted as obstructionists who are preventing the government from taking care about the nation's business.

Posted by: Lysander | Dec 8, 2012 10:48:37 AM | 7

This is all starting to make sense. If you recall, the election results were held up for days in June. There seemed to be no good reason for the delay. Finally, the news media announced that "Mursi was declared the winner," not that he was elected.

At the time, I wondered if Mursi and Shafiq each presented their bids to key power brokers including the military. If so, Mursi made the acceptable bid--a promise to be a Washington tool that blunted the Muslim Brotherhood. Shafiq could only promise to obey Washington.

Posted by: JohnH | Dec 8, 2012 11:00:35 AM | 8

That election was two days after the court entirely voided the parliamentary election that the MB won convincingly. It is now openly known that the court had its decision in its desk and could have issued it at any time after parliament sat.

The timing was designed, I'm sure, to depress enthusiasm in MB voters, and I think it probably worked, just not enough to get Shafik either more votes than Morsi, or to get the vote close enough that the election could be thrown given that the MB had observers throughout the country who could observe the stages of the vote counts and tabulations.

I think the MB would win any reasonably designed representative national political contest in Egypt right now. Keeping the MB out of power would require more than an alternative constitution.

Posted by: Arnold Evans | Dec 8, 2012 11:03:44 AM | 9

Arnold, we wont know the answer. I think many Morsi voters would have voted for Kamal Sabahi, Fotouh or possibly even Amr Musa. The latter I always suspected was Washington's first choice. Also, a lot of the Shafik voters would have voted for a non MB candidate.

And as I said, even a loosing constitution would position MB opponents much better in the future.

Posted by: Lysander | Dec 8, 2012 11:22:59 AM | 10

I'd love to see the Egypt with a loyal opposition, that would do something like present an alternative constitution. I feel like ElBaradei and the opposition are not that. They do not want the MB in power and they don't believe they have more votes than the MB.

If the opposition is fundamentally anti-democratic, that explains why they aren't doing things that would put them in a better position for democratic competitions in Egypt.

Posted by: Arnold Evans | Dec 8, 2012 12:00:34 PM | 11

Arnold Evans #9: "get the vote close enough that the election could be thrown..." Exactly. Just like Bush-Gore 2000.

Posted by: JohnH | Dec 8, 2012 12:18:55 PM | 12

the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood is cahoots with Washington DC

It's difficult for me to accept (but I'll try) that an organization that is pro-Palestine with its capital in Jerusalem, and against staunch US allies like Saudi Arabia and Israel, is willingly accepted and even aided by Washington. Rather, the US has no choice and hopes to modify MB aims.

Looking at the larger picture, the whole Arab Spring has been a grab-on-to-the-coattails adventure for the US, which much preferred the old despotic structures. That's the great irony of Obama's 2009 speeches promoting the Muslim cause, that they've come back to bite the US. It's Afghanistan writ large. (Charlie Wilson's War)

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 8, 2012 1:12:06 PM | 13

Here's an excellent analysis published by Pat Lang today.
The Brothers and the Others - Kieran Wanduragala

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 8, 2012 1:16:48 PM | 14

Re 11:

"I'd love to see the Egypt with a loyal opposition, that would do something like present an alternative constitution. I feel like ElBaradei and the opposition are not that."

Arnold;
I think this makes a major part of our difference clear:
you don't trust the opposition and think that rather than a national opposition it is a 'fifth coloumn' so to speak. I on the other hand see MB as being the arm of USA. True, there could be vaarious parts of the opposition with organiic connections to USA, but there are also many parts of opposition which are truly `national`in nature and want an independent Egypt. With MB on the other hand there is NO PART which is not in cahoots with USA (in the MB lidearship to be precise).

Also it is worth mentioning that Ìslamism` has no relevant content which would require a revolution. It is not about Ìslam`or `sharia`: as far as I know, Islamism was defacto in effect in large parts of the Egyptian society even during the time of Mubarak; judiciary, Radio-TV and education was largely entrusted to MB even long before the revolution. So to think that some how Ìslam`or `Sharia` elements in the constitution will help the country come out of the US hegemony and be governed by the will of people is a mistake in my opinion.

Posted by: Pirouz_2 | Dec 8, 2012 1:28:14 PM | 15

@ Don Bacon #13

MB isnt pro-Palestinian in their previous status quo, they are strongly pushing Palestinians (together with Qatar and Turkey) from Iran-Syria axis to the West-Persian Gulf arabs-MB axis. Its about expanding West (and namely US) geopolitical clout by adding more and more nations to their sphere of influence, by any means possible.

Also MB speaks against Israel onlyfor PR purpose for their public, as those are heavily against Israel/US. Other than that, MB has vastly better relationships with Israel/US/arabs than with Iran or Syria. Lets not forget Qatar - another dedicated US puppet, who have extensive influence over MB.

Bottom line: due to increasingly anti-US and Israel sentiments in the region, US smartly adopted a new strategy - they pull the strings behind the curtains through their puppets (Qatar/Saudis/Turkey/MB, etc) instead of directly, thats all there is to it.

Posted by: Harry | Dec 8, 2012 1:28:17 PM | 16

Pirouz_2: The elements that will make Egypt come out of US colonialism, to me, are elections and re-elections.

If the Egyptian people made a mistake sending Morsi to the office of President, they can correct that mistake in four years.

I see inertia rather than MB complicity with the US explaining why Egypt hasn't done a full 180 on foreign policy yet, but elections and re-elections are Egypt's most likely mechanism for removing US influence over Egyptian policy.

Posted by: Arnold Evans | Dec 8, 2012 1:38:55 PM | 17

Surprising to see Angry Arab connecting MB to the American fascists, he promoted their war crimes against Libya and helped promote that war crime to progressives. He reminds me of Juan Cole and Christopher Hitchens.

Looks like Morsi's handlers ordered him to bring out the jackboots:

President Morsi to deploy armed forces in Cairo to curb street protests – report

http://rt.com/news/morsi-powers-police-issue-593/

Further info:

Egyptian opposition rejects dialogue

http://english.ruvr.ru/2012_12_08/Egyptian-opposition-rejects-dialogue/

Posted by: вот так | Dec 8, 2012 1:51:14 PM | 18

@Harry 16
Thanks for the response, but it doesn't change my mind. The US is totally in the Israel corner, accepting Israel's Muslim enemies as its own, especially Palestinians which are regarded in the US (Congress, media, etc.) as totally terrorists. This feeling is then extended to Muslims in general, with Americans being easily able (and it's acceptable, unfortunately on religious grounds) to classify ALL Muslims as 'Muslim extremists' and 'Muslim terrorists' and members of 'radical Islam.'

The MB being totally Islamic automatically puts them in the 'bad' category, and any other US/MB relationship is contrived, in my view. Religion has a deep motivation in the (Christian) US.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 8, 2012 2:19:13 PM | 19

@ Don Bacon, 19

You forget US with alies created extremist Muslim groups like Al Qaeda, Israel created Hamas. US has absolutely no problem with radical wahabbis in Qatar and Saudis either, why would they have any problem with subservient MB?

Bottom line: its pure geopolitics, and has nothing to do with any religion, democracy, "war on terror" or any other BS for gullible public's consumption. Look beyond loud catchwords/propaganda and see the reality.

Posted by: Harry | Dec 8, 2012 2:28:47 PM | 20

@Harry 20
US politics is heavily infused with and affected by religion, and this fact is then used by TPTB to accomplish their ends in many different fields. For this reason the US Congress is strongly anti-MB, and the administration is trying to finesse that b/c right now it has no choice.

The US and Israel are powerful but currently they have lost control of events in many places, from Pakistan to Afghanistan to Iran to Iraq to Syria, Libya and Egypt. Next they will try to control events in Africa and they will lose there also.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 8, 2012 3:01:17 PM | 21

I wish this was all true, and the US would install elected MB leaderships in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain and other current US colonies in the Middle East.

If the people of the Middle East had as much leverage over the policy making bodies of their governments as the people of Egypt under the constitution now going for referendum, then we'd see if elected MB leadership is no different from pro-US colonial dictatorships.

But Barack Obama and the US State Department are, in my view unfortunately, not taking that chance. They supported Mubarak until it would have been impossible for him to remain in office, to this day the US has never said a single negative word about the SCAF voiding the parliamentary election in June 2012, now the US says, only for Egypt, that it doesn't want any one group, the MB, to have too much power.

Anyone who believes the MB voted into office by the people of Egypt is a victory for the US, I wish you could convince Barack Obama to push for the same thing for Saudi Arabia.

Posted by: Arnold Evans | Dec 8, 2012 3:07:49 PM | 22

Usually, I find myself agreeing with b's position on issues, but this time we are far apart. I am surprised that he has adopted the view encapsulated in the media's sensationalizing slogan of all this being a Mursi 'power grab'. It is nothing of the kind. Firstly, it's not Mursi operating, it's the MB. Secondly, the 'infamous' decree wasn't a power grab, it was a limited blocking move designed purely for the purpose of preventing an imminent declaration by the higher judiciary dissolving the constituent assembly. When this move was exploited by interested parties to bring protesters into the streets, the MB sought to avoid having to use the decree (and thus further inflaming the situation) by hurrying up the completion of the constitution and announcing the date for a referendum on it.

It is naive to regard this higher judiciary as anything but a holdover from the previous regime, with a vested interest in preventing a new system being established. After all, the same judges abruptly dissolved the elected People's Assembly in June 2012, in cahoots with SCAF. They then did that again after Mursi recalled it into session. Mursi has also announced that the decree will be withdrawn after the referendum.

It is meaningless throwing around numbers of voter support in past elections. Whatever the percentage of votes won by Mursi or the MB, they were more than those of other parties or candidates. To infer that those who did not vote for them were opposed to them is strange logic; by the same token larger numbers were opposed to each of the other parties or candidates. Why are Baradai & Co resorting to street power instead of simply voting down the constitution in the referendum? Because they know they do not have the votes to do that.

I am also surprised at the adoption of the slogan bandied about in certain areas of the blogosphere: Mursi is in bed with the Americans! The US is engaged with every faction and leader in Egypt, seeking to obtain information and influence actions. Each one of these is also interested in maintaining contact with the Americans. Thus, everyone is 'in bed' with the Americans, a meaningless statement.

Similarly, accusing the MB of being in bed with the military is strange. The military is still a powerful force in the Egyptian polity. Anyone else in Mursi's place (el Baradai or amr Moussa) would have similarly treaded gently in reining them in. Thus, they, too, are probably also in bed with the military! To reduce the development of the Egyptian situation into a bedroom farce is not serious analysis.

What the MB is trying to do is establish some kind of a political system to replace the old one. Once this system is in place the MB will naturally seek to obtain power through the succeeding election. As will other parties. It is only those that have an interest in preventing the replacement of the old power structures, or those that believe they will be defeated in those elections, who are raising this hue and cry about power grabs and looming dictatorships.

Posted by: FB Ali | Dec 8, 2012 5:52:19 PM | 23

We are all agreed. Washington is backing Morsi.

-bevin.

Yes. It will simply back any ‘leader‘ in this type of situation. The US was dismayed with the opposition to Mubarak, as he was the status-quo stooge, until it saw the writing on the wall, faced the inevitable, and spouted about democracy being peachy-cool for Egyptians.
Morsi is not special in this regard. Had say El-Baradei (of course highly unlikely) or an Army / post-Mubarak figure emerged the position would have been the same (as concerns foreign aid to Egypt and foreign policy thereof) - El-B would have used Int’l connections to promote *peace* in Palestine and so on.

The Constitution is taking on a hugely symbolic role. It is important...

Westerners particularly USAers are often most attached to this point, see e.g. the re-writing of the Iraqi Constitution by the Coalition - what effect did it have on the ground?

Or the present US Constitution, which is really no more than a historical document?

Or the Constitution where I live, which has been battled over for FOUR years until all parties became fed up - some of the ppl working on it quit from burn-out and others died - - a new one was voted in, ppl were exhausted, it will of course be attacked by referendum, and on we go.

I do grasp that a major upheaval or renewal of a State generally is seen to require a founding document.

But in Egypt it seems to be serving to pit the different parties at logger heads, to serve as a casus belli on paper. This makes me very suspicious as to the motives of certain parties. The Egyptian ppl are not served by these imbroglios.

Posted by: Noirette | Dec 9, 2012 10:40:48 AM | 24

Morsi’s 100 day plan, where he made promises to the poor about bread, sanitation (garbage handling), the availability of cooking fuel, traffic, and more:

http://egyptelections.carnegieendowment.org/2012/06/26/morsi’s-one-hundred-day-plan

About 20% of Gvmt budget (which is low as these things go) is devoted to subsidizing bread and fuel.

Morsi has also said he will cut subsidies and wants to ‘improve productivity’, e.g.:

Shops, restaurants, etc. to close early to save energy:

Oct 2012. Local Development Minister Ahmed Zaki Abdeen told Al-Masry Al-Youm on Tuesday that a government order to close stores by 10 pm and restaurants and cafes by midnight would be implemented beginning Thursday in all governorates.

http://www.egyptindependent.com/news/stores-restaurants-close-early-beginning-thursday-minister-says

Here is a Morsi meter, report on the 100 days, on such issues, trans. into English, PDF:

http://morsimeter.com/media/docs/MorsiMeter-100DaysReport-en.pdf

(note the snazzy internet sophistication)

Posted by: Noirette | Dec 9, 2012 10:45:48 AM | 25

1) Any Egyptian government will have to be accepted by the US or run into trouble, that is hardly the issue. If the US thinks Egyptian islamists are the antidote to Iranian islamists they are miscalculating.

2) 23 FB Ali

What the MB is trying to do is establish some kind of a political system to replace the old one. Once this system is in place the MB will naturally seek to obtain power through the succeeding election. As will other parties. It is only those that have an interest in preventing the replacement of the old power structures, or those that believe they will be defeated in those elections, who are raising this hue and cry about power grabs and looming dictatorships.

Exactly. That is the issue. The MB is not just trying to establish any political system, they are trying to establish a political system that gives them (their clerics) the judiciary thereby guaranteeing their power.

3) So I guess if 40 percent of Egyptians vote and 21 percent vote yes Egypt would have a new political system? Politics do not work this way.

4) Egyptians would vote Muslim Brotherhood for stability? But the Muslim Brotherhood has just destabilized the country. I can't see people in Egypt missing this point.


Posted by: somebody | Dec 9, 2012 5:48:53 PM | 26

and whilst in some news Morsi conceded absolute powers in other news he did this

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, who holds legislative authority, announced sweeping increases in sales taxes and stamp duties on a wide range of consumer goods and services on Sunday and amended Egypt's income and property tax laws. Income tax brackets were also modified, and the highest bracket was changed so that annual incomes above LE1 million (instead of LE10 million) are taxed at a 25 per cent rate. The president also issued a law levying a 10 per cent tax on Initial Public Offerings (IPOs), company mergers and acquisitions.

The measures represent the implementation of an economic programme that Egypt has proposed to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in order to be eligible for a $4.8 billion loan.

The measures are aimed at reducing public deficit through increasing state revenue.

Morsi has already reduced subsidies on butane gas and electricity as part of a government austerity programme.

Among other products, sales taxes were increased on steel, cement, soft drinks, beer and cigarettes.

Morsi also raised sales taxes on a variety of services, including mobile-phone services, air-conditioned transportation, and cleaning and security services, among others.

He also doubled stamp duties on bank facilities and loans. A new scheme for duties on advertising was also put in place, with the highest bracket standing at 25 per cent instead of the previous 15 per cent flat rate.

The new legislation also stiffens penalties for tax evasion.

As for the property tax law, the exemption level was raised from properties valued at LE500,000 to those worth LE2 million. This will become effective as of 1 July of next year. Single home owners are not exempted from the tax.

The law levies a 10 per cent tax on annual rent for properties with market values of LE2 million after deducting 30 per cent of this value for maintenance purposes.

The following is a brief summary of the new changes to Egypt's tax structure:

- Steel rebars used for construction will be subject to a 10 per cent sales tax.

- Taxes on alcoholic beer will be increased from 100 per cent (with a minimum of LE200 per 100 litres) to 200 per cent (with a minimum of LE400 per 100 litres).

- The single tax on cigarettes will be raised from LE1.35 to LE2 per pack for locally produced cigarettes and to LE2.50 for imported cigarettes.

- Taxes on shisha (water pipe) tobacco will be increased from 50 per cent to 150 per cent.

- Taxes on local and imported wines will be raised to 150 per cent from 100 per cent.

- Taxes on cooking oil will be set at 5 per cent of the sale value instead of set per-tonne levies.

- Taxes on mobile-phone calls will be increased from 15 to 18 per cent.

- New sales taxes will be levied on fertilisers, pesticides and soft drinks, among others.

Income taxes

Modifications to the income tax structure will also be implemented, effective Sunday. The new Egyptian income tax structure will be as follows:

First segment (LE5000 or less): Exempted

Second segment (LE5000 – LE30,000): 10 per cent

Third segment (LE30,000 – LE45,000): 15 per cent

Fourth segment (LE45,000 – LE1 million): 20 per cent

Fifth segment (LE1 million or more): 25 per cent

Posted by: somebody | Dec 9, 2012 6:40:40 PM | 27

oh and the army is back to enforce Mursi's decrees

so, as b. quotes as planned above, Egyptians have changed Mubarak's army dictatorship with Muslim Brotherhood army dictatorship

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has issued a law granting army officers the authority to make arrests, according to what was published in Egypt's official state gazette on Sunday.

Law 107 of 2012 gives army officers the authority to make arrests from the day of issuance until 15 December 2012, the date scheduled for Egypt's controversial constitutional referendum. The law gives army officers the right to arrest civilians with a view to "maintaining public order."

Giving military officers arrest powers was initially suggested by Egypt's then-ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces in 2011, but political forces – including the Muslim brotherhood and its Freedom and Justice Party, along with human rights activists – opposed the move.

Posted by: somebody | Dec 9, 2012 6:58:14 PM | 28

@ somebody 27
You link to an example of shoddy journalism, hardly avoidable these days.

Ahram on Dec 9 mentioned in passing "The measures represent the implementation of an economic programme that Egypt has proposed to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in order to be eligible for a $4.8 billion loan. The measures are aimed at reducing public deficit through increasing state revenue."

As a matter of fact there is more than a proposal, there is an agreement, and it dates back to Nov 20.

International Monetary Fund, Nov 20
IMF Reaches Staff-Level Agreement with Egypt on a US$4.8 Billion Stand-By Arrangement

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) staff mission headed by Mr. Andreas Bauer, Division Chief in the Middle East and Central Asia Department, and the Egyptian authorities have reached a staff-level agreement on a 22-month Stand-By Arrangement (SBA) in the amount of about US$4.8 billion . . .

"Fiscal reforms are a key pillar under the program. The authorities plan to reduce wasteful expenditures, including by reforming energy subsidies and better targeting them to vulnerable groups. At the same time, the authorities intend to raise revenues through tax reforms, including by increasing the progressivity of income taxation and by broadening the general sales tax (GST) to become a full-fledged value added tax (VAT).


Fiscal reforms are a key pillar under the program. That's why Morsi is raising taxes.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 9, 2012 7:15:15 PM | 29

@somebody 26
So I guess if 40 percent of Egyptians vote and 21 percent vote yes Egypt would have a new political system? Politics do not work this way.
Oh? Why not?

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 9, 2012 7:18:27 PM | 30

@somebody 28 the army is back to enforce Mursi's decrees
I guess you missed it. President Mohamed Morsi yesterday rescinded the controversial decree that had granted him near-absolute power.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Dec 9, 2012 7:23:47 PM | 31

31, yes that is what he said, raising taxes all by himself and giving the army the power to arrest is what he did ...

Posted by: somebody | Dec 10, 2012 1:33:38 AM | 32

29, raising taxes by an absolute monarch is very outdated and 30, either Mursi has an agreement with the army or he will not survive. I guess it is the former.

Posted by: somebody | Dec 10, 2012 1:37:59 AM | 33

ok. raising taxes all by oneself is outdated

Egypt Independent ‏@EgyIndependent
Breaking: Morsy suspends new tax laws

of course it is a fallacy to forget that sheer incompetence might be the cause ...

Posted by: somebody | Dec 10, 2012 2:06:55 AM | 34

Yes, now it is the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood against Mursi and the WMF

Funny enough, Mursi seems to communicate his decisions via facebook. I wonder if the account got hacked.

Egypt President Mohamed Morsi has retracted his Sunday decisions to increase tax burdens on the Egyptian people, and ordered the government to carry out a "social dialogue" on the measures before implementation. In a statement issued on his official Facebook page at around 2 am on Monday, Morsi said he had put on hold the measures of raising sales taxes on a wide range of consumer goods and services that were made public Sunday afternoon.

“[The President] does not accept that the Egyptian citizen carries any extra burdens without consent. His Excellency has decided to halt the [tax raising] decisions until the degree of public acceptance is made clear,” the statement read."

For its part, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), from which Morsi hails, issued a statement Sunday evening denouncing the President’s decisions and demanding they be put on hold.

“[The party] calls on the head of the government [Prime Minister Hisham Qandil] to halt these decisions until they are submitted to the People’s Assembly after its formation,” the FJP said in a statement.


Posted by: somebody | Dec 10, 2012 2:29:37 AM | 35

somebody, I feel your irony is misplaced; any politician in Morsi's place would be hard pressed to balance all the forces weighting in on him; and I think the "pro-western" opposition, which since the beginning counted on the military and the Us to come to their rescue without even attempting, as far as I know, a direct, national dialogue with the MB, is indefensible;

Posted by: claudio | Dec 10, 2012 4:51:15 PM | 36

36, I am not sure Mursi offered a dialogue. I think he said something like "I will not back down but will be glad to talk to you about it."

I think Mursi got a deal with the military and he got a deal with "the West". He just may not have the power base that was part of the deal.

I also think this Egyptian journalist here has got a point

Yet, even during those glorious 18 days of Jan-Feb of that year, I would constantly get Western journalists querying me about “the crucial” or “decisive” part Islamists, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood, were playing in the revolution. Where they got such certitude I was at a loss to understand, seeing that there were millions on the streets, that you’d be hard pressed to find a single sign or chant in Cairo’s Tahrir or anywhere else in the country calling for the application of Sharia’a or “governance by what God has ordained,” that the revolutionary banner of: Bread, Freedom, Social Justice, had not an ounce of Islamism in it, that Christians and Muslims, women and men, fought together shoulder to shoulder, and that egalitarianism among all Egyptians had been the overriding ethic of the Egyptian revolution.

All too soon, the readiness of the Brotherhood and its Salafist allies coupled to the unpreparedness of the revolutionaries (due to 30 years of the eradication of politics under Mubarak) seemed to bear the deep-seated bias out. The extremely nuanced and complex reality of post revolutionary Egypt would be made to disappear, and the Western media’s coverage of the emergent political landscape in the country would regress into – what I’ve come to call – infantile Orientalism.

Deep-seated bias is only one part of the explanation, however. The second secret to the love affair is much more down to earth, essentially a function of realpolitik. For the US-led Western alliance, the Muslim Brotherhood in power in Egypt proved to be the answer to a prayer.

Notwithstanding all the rhetoric about the liberation of “Islamic Palestine”, Egypt’s new rulers would swear themselves blue in the face that they would uphold the commitment to the peace treaty with Israel, collaborate with the “hated enemy” in fighting terrorists in Sinai, bring in American troops and sophisticated spying equipment into the troubled peninsula’s demilitarized Area C, all the while maintaining “strategic ties” with Washington.

It would take the US/Egypt brokered truce in Gaza, however, to have Western media and pundits drooling over Mr Morsi and his up-and-coming Muslim Brotherhood run and controlled regime. All of a sudden, they discovered that not only was the MB president as compliant as his predecessor on “Israeli security”, but that he was proving a much more effective partner in this respect.

Suddenly, the realization hit home: Here was a democratically elected president (albeit narrowly), backed by “authentic” Islamist Muslims, not only in Egypt but throughout the Greater Middle East, able not only to intimidate and pressure Hamas into “reasonableness”, as Mubarak’s Omar Suleiman was known to do, but to do so in his capacity as Big Brother to the errant Palestinian branch of his movement. A unique and previously unexpected prize of this order was simply too precious to squander, even for the sake of such niceties as basic liberties and human rights.

So precious indeed, that one Israeli political writer suggested only last week that Netanyahu’s Israel might be in the process of making a strategic shift in its attitude to Hamas. Translated from the Hebrew by Media-Clips-Isr, Alex Fishman, writing in Ye​dioth Aharonot, suggests that under Netanyahu’s leadership Israel was in the process of changing its policy on the Gaza Strip, and that “Instead of toppling Hamas, it wants to give the Hamas regime power so that it will ensure quiet and to push it toward the Sunni, anti-Iranian coalition of Egypt, Qatar and Turkey.” Far-fetched, you might say. Possibly, I admit I haven’t been following Israeli politics as I should, what with domestic Egyptian developments overwhelming time and thought. Yet, very indicative, to say the least.

Rehabilitating Hamas with a view to “safeguarding Israeli security”, as defined by Netanyhau, no less than setting up a regional Sunni coalition against Iran are, it goes without saying, top agenda items in US/European policy in the Middle East.

But there is a more compelling reason for the Western alliance and its media’s love affair with Egypt’s Brotherhood – one of even greater strategic import. For some time now, the US and its allies had come to realize that the rickety, aged and corruption-ridden police states in the region, however servile, were very poor guardians of their vital interests in the region. The Arab Spring seemed to have given rise to a new and ostensibly much more solid foundation on which to anchor these interests. And as predicted by nearly everyone for years, some form of political Islam seemed the only viable alternative at hand.

In Egypt, by far the biggest Arab state and home to Al-Azhar, the very fount-head of Sunni Islam, the Mother of all Islamist movements, the Muslim Brotherhood, had come to power and was ready and able to be the sort of loyal friend and guardian of “vital” Western interests as its predecessors had been, and to do so in a considerably more “legitimate” and effective manner.

Embroiled for the past decade in a seemingly endless and harrowing battle against “terrorism”, specifically against Islamist radicalism, and with Europe increasingly phobic about the “demographic nightmare” of the Muslim “enemy within”, the US and its allies now had a model of the kind of Islamism they could have only dreamed of. By its very existence, such an Egyptian model was bound to undercut the dread radicals and ameliorate the “Islamist threat”, all the way from the heart of Paris to the Qaeda infested hills of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

This veritable treasure was as valuable to hold onto as its opposite, the collapse of such a model, was to be dreaded. Indubitably, such failure would provide a powerful boost to Islamist radicals everywhere, a further argument that Jihad rather than a “Western, Secularist-imported democracy” is the only way forward.

The love affair is thus explained, and as the popular saying goes “Love is blind.”

And yet, here at home, the souls of millions of Egyptians continue to cry out for freedom, come what may.

Posted by: somebody | Dec 10, 2012 5:44:37 PM | 37

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