Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 11, 2012

Egypt: Further Down The Highway

Just to cover some news items on Egypt:

The very democratic minded president Morsi, who was unable to move the referendum on a new constitution and allow for more time for discussion because that would be "illegal", just issued a decree to change the election law:

Voters will no longer be able to vote outside of their electoral districts in the upcoming constitution referendum, after President Mohamed Morsy amended an electoral law.

Morsy issued an amendment to Law 73 for the year 1956 canceling the stipulation allowing voters tocast their ballots in referendums outside of their electoral districts, a presidential statement on Tuesday morning said.
The president's office justified the amendment by alleging that while allowing voters to cast their ballots outside their electoral districts may be convenient for people, the process can produce many appeals and cast a lot of doubts about the extent to which the referendum is a free and clean process.

Yeah, sure. Many who migrated to the big cities of Egypt to find work are still registered in their original hometowns. Those people, likely millions of them, learn now, four days before the referendum, that they will have no chance to vote. Living in the cities might have made them too liberal to allow for that.
The statement also claimed that allowing voting outside of one's electoral district would require supervising judges to create lists for those who are not registered in a given district, imposing an additional burden on them.
How nice to thinks of the judges who will not oversee the voting:
The Egyptian Judges Club's general assembly announced at a Tuesday press conference in Cairo its final decision not to supervise Saturday's popular referendum on Egypt's draft constitution.
Judge Ahmed Zend slammed the new constitutional declaration issued by President Mohamed Morsi on Saturday, describing it as an "insult" to the judiciary. "The new constitutional declaration still makes the president's decisions immune from judicial appeal," he said.
But no matter what the judges say the ride on the constitutional highway to theocracy will continue.

Morsi is using his decrees and self given immunity not just to get the Islamist written constitution under way but continues to use it to significantly change the Egyptian state system without parliamentary approval and judicial control:

President Morsi is set to issue a modification to two articles in the laws governing the Central Bank of Egypt within days, which grants himself more authority.

Notably, the modifications reduce the number board members and alots the president the right to unilaterally nominate the next CBE governor without the usual recommendations from cabinet.
In 2003 the ousted president Mubarak modified the law and was criticised for limiting the CBE's independence.

Morsi's decree further reduces expert membership on the board to four (as opposed to eight in the current law). It also removes the representation by the ministers of planning and foreign commerce, leaving only a representative of the finance ministry.

Controlling the central bank will remove resistance towards foreign credits and will allow him to use money supply as a political tool. These credits will put Egypt further under Washington control:
The United States and a coalition of international lenders are pushing ahead with billions of dollars in loans and other help for Egypt and neighboring states, ...

The IMF had hoped to move forward this month on a $4.8 billion loan that Egypt desperately needs, as its foreign currency reserves dwindle and international investors pull money from the country. But over the weekend, Morsi reneged on imposing tax increases that the IMF had expected as a way to help bring down the country’s budget deficit.
On Tuesday morning, the IMF said that the Egyptian government had asked to delay further work on the loan “in light of the unfolding developments on the ground.” The tax hikes faced a public backlash at a time when Morsi is also trying to quell opposition to a proposed new constitution.

Egypt’s potential creditors say the situation has left them with a difficult choice: Take a chance on Morsi, or leave the country without a lifeline and surrender the ability to influence the government’s direction.
The IMF loan to Egypt is expected to come with strict conditions attached, including a sharp curb on the use of subsidies.
Local analysts such as Rashad Abdou said they are skeptical and think Morsi is piling on IMF and other debt without a clear long-term plan.
But U.S. and other officials involved in the discussions with the Morsi government use words such as “pragmatic” to describe the approach to economic policy: The Egyptians are aware that outside help is needed to stabilize the country and appear willing in general to meet the conditions. That marks a change from a year ago, when the military council then running the country refused IMF help.

The IMF loan and the tax increases and subsidies cuts will be back in one month after the referendum on the constitution and the new parliament election but probably before that parliament is seated.

Posted by b on December 11, 2012 at 17:44 UTC | Permalink


Panetta: Syria seems to have backed off on chemical weapons

Posted by: nikon | Dec 11 2012 18:23 utc | 1

As the angry Arab said a few days ago, that if he had known the brothers would discredit themselves so quickly once in power he would have pushed for Islamist rule years ago.

Posted by: Lysander | Dec 11 2012 18:37 utc | 2

This election change decree has an American feel to it, as in the American "deep south" pre 1960's.

Posted by: вот так | Dec 11 2012 20:29 utc | 3

Sounds like Egyptians are electoral serfs.

Posted by: sleepy | Dec 12 2012 0:26 utc | 4

sound like the US realizes their Muslim Brotherhood strategy will not fly

Having watched a young, veiled, Egyptian female reporter tear into a Muslim Brotherhood official the other day over the group’s recent autocratic and abusive behavior, I can assure you that the fight here is not between more religious and less religious Egyptians. What has brought hundreds of thousands of Egyptians back into the streets, many of them first-time protesters, is the fear that autocracy is returning to Egypt under the guise of Islam. The real fight here is about freedom, not religion.

Posted by: somebody | Dec 12 2012 8:18 utc | 5

sounds like Egyptians still have fun - the presidential palace is a great place for graffiti

Posted by: somebody | Dec 12 2012 8:25 utc | 6

sounds like blowback is imminent

When will the west pay the price for its support of political Islam in the Arab world?

The west, and the US in particular, has already paid the price for its alliance with the Mujahedeen in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union, so when will it pay the price for propping up political Islam in the Arab world? I think not long, as the death of the American ambassador in Libya was just the first of many acts of retribution soon to be witnessed in the west.

However I think that it will be in Europe, with its large Muslim population ripe for recruitment by radical, Islamist organisations, where the ultimate price will be paid, rather than in the US.

However the most painful act of retribution will most likely come from the people of the region themselves, who see the west as the bankrollers of these fascist organisations who are trying to rebuild the repressive regimes of the past, only this time with a religious hue.

Posted by: somebody | Dec 12 2012 8:52 utc | 7

Best and most complete overview of the Egyptian play by the Arabist, Issandr El Amrani: Navigating Egypt's political crisis

With time running out for such moves, one must look beyond to the referendum's result and its aftermath. If the "no" vote wins, the Morsi presidency will have been fully discredited and the pressure for his resignation will only increase, while the transitional roadmap will be in tatters. If "yes" wins, the protest movement is unlikely to die down, may radicalize, and the Brotherhood will have retreated from its previous engagement to seek consensus to a strategy of reliance on the Salafis and a hostile, if not paranoid, attitude towards the secular opposition. Between an Islamist democratic majoritarianism with increasingly authoritarian tendencies and an embittered secular camp tempted by liberal authoritarianism, Egypt's transition is likely to only get more difficult, and, ultimately, unlikely to succeed in creating a reasonably inclusive, democratic and stable political system.

Posted by: b | Dec 13 2012 10:58 utc | 8

The US State Department claims that "democracy requires much more than simple majority rule".

This past weekend, the draft Egyptian constitution passed a public referendum. We have stood with Egyptians as they have engaged in the difficult work of democratic transition. We have consistently supported the principle that democracy requires much more than simple majority rule. It requires protecting the rights and building the institutions that make democracy meaningful and durable.

On the one hand, protecting whatever rights the US is vaguely talking about and building whatever institutions the US means may well be good things, but democracy does mean majority rule, as opposed to rule by US stooge dictators such as in the US' colonies of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain and others.

Posted by: Arnold Evans | Dec 26 2012 11:46 utc | 9

Let me add, if there are disputes about which rights of which minorities are to be protected and by what means, or there are disputes about which institutions should be built and how they should look, then those disputes are to be settled by voters peacefully through the process of democracy. With the losing side accepting that it lost and working to hopefully get better results in future elections.

Westerners don't get to insert their own particular ideas about rights and institutions into the definition of democracy itself.

Meanwhile the US State Department has no statement about the pro-US dictatorships of its colonies in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, UAE, Bahrain and others. None of those countries protect rights, political or otherwise, for minorities or have institutions accountable to their populations nearly equal to those of the Egyptian constitution that the State Department now suddenly thinks, contrary to Egypt's voters, are not sufficient.

Posted by: Arnold Evans | Dec 26 2012 13:58 utc | 10

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