Tens of Thousands of Egyptians Protest Morsi’s Power Grab

This Real News Network interview with Hamid Dabashi discusses the drivers and ramifications of Mohammed Morsi’s usurpation of democratic checks on the president. Dabashi mentions a New York Times story:

The New York Times yesterday had a new article about the understanding that is emerging between Obama and Morsi so far as Gaza is concerned—and Obama has a deeply corrupting influence.

While that no doubt has some truth, I believe this is the story Dabashi was referring to, “Egyptian President and Obama Forge Link in Gaza Deal,” and I was struck by these passages:

Over the course of the next 25 minutes, he and President Mohamed Morsi of Egypt hashed through ways to end the latest eruption of violence, a conversation that would lead Mr. Obama to send Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to the region. As he and Mr. Morsi talked, Mr. Obama felt they were making a connection. Three hours later, at 2:30 in the morning, they talked again….

Mr. Obama told aides he was impressed with the Egyptian leader’s pragmatic confidence. He sensed an engineer’s precision with surprisingly little ideology. Most important, Mr. Obama told aides that he considered Mr. Morsi a straight shooter who delivered on what he promised and did not promise what he could not deliver.

“The thing that appealed to the president was how practical the conversations were — here’s the state of play, here are the issues we’re concerned about,” said a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations. “This was somebody focused on solving problems.”

Aieee. Morsi spent 8 years in the US, getting his PhD in materials science and then serving as an assistant professor. I’ve seen this again and again with Japanese in particular, but in general with foreign nationals working for US companies in overseas offices. Americans who haven’t worked in a foreign country tend not to recognize how easily they are seduced by nationals who are Americanized, and gravitate towards them over more talented but less bicultural professionals.

This section reads as if Morsi knew the stakes involved in getting Obama in his camp, and knew how to sell to an American, and Obama acts as if he didn’t recognize he was being sold. Put it another way: what 11 dimensional chess theory can you give me for this story being positive for Obama? Letting the media on to some sort of newly formed personal rapport with Morsi probably isn’t good for Morsi with ordinary Egyptians, although it may be a plus in terms of his standing with the military.

And as for how much things have changed in Egypt, I have my own teeny data point. The Egyptian ambassador’s permanent residence is in my building. Arab Spring came and went, and we still have the same ambassador. And trust me, he looked pretty glum for a man whose profession is to be unruffled when the demonstrations first broke out.

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  1. middle seaman

    Things are probably quite simple. Morsi had planned his move long ago. The ceasefire agreement seemed like a golden opportunity to lose. Obama seems like rushing but we never expected much of him.

  2. Andrew not the Saint

    I’d give Morsi about 3 months to show his true colors – whether he really wants to bring in some people to the judicial branch who will clean up the old Mubarak’s men, or if he’s just a Mubarak 2.0

    I think he’ll fall somewhere ‘pragmatically’ in between, like many of his fellow presidents around the world. A world of pragmatic shit, that is…

  3. Middle Seaman

    The first part of Dabashi’s interview makes sense while the second half shows total lack of understanding of the recent events. The periodic skirmishes between Gaza and Israel are identical to the initial skirmishes between Israel and countries such as Egypt and Syria. The latter converged into peace/status quo and termination of hostilities. The same process was followed by the Palestinians and Israel that has converged, sadly, into non belligerence but has yet to achieve the needed peace. Hamas and Israel are now about half the way to tranquility. In other words, skirmishes will continue with small compromises on each side until the difference will be within negotiable reach.

    Dabashi sees the picture as an amorphous complex with Obama, Israel and the Arab oil countries playing a role of instigating Morsi to grab power by “wrong” moves. That view is baseless. Obama didn’t do it. Israel will always move against Gaza when it feels that the rockets falling on the south exceed the noise level. The oil countries have been the Rothschild of Muslim countries forever. A strong Egypt is important for them as opposition to Iran.

    1. liberal

      “Israel will always move against Gaza when it feels that the rockets falling on the south exceed the noise level.”

      Except for the little fact that that’s not how it happened.

  4. Maju

    It’s been known for way too long that Sunni Fundamentalism is financed and controlled by Saudi Arabia (and that certainly includes whatever Al Qaeda is), all with the seal of approval of the USA and Israel (and other allies like Britain, Turkey, etc.)

    With the 2008-09 (Obama’s inagurational) Gaza massacres it became clear that Tel Aviv and Riyad ar closer than ever evenf if Saudi Arabia still does not formally recognizes Israel (why would they if that fake hostility allows both to play their respective games better?) Saudi Arabia was in fact the financer of Operation Cast Lead and Egypt (then still led by Mubarak) was in the loop all the time. See: http://www.voltairenet.org/article158933.html (in French, can’t find the English version, sorry).

    Again now Gaza is used as bargaining chip in an operation that was probably planned beforehand and whose main goal was to reintegrate Egypt, now under Islamist rule, into the Washington-Tel Aviv-Riyadh axis. Under a new dictator of course.

    Nothing before suggested that Egypt under Morsi would act in any way hostilly against the Zionist colony. Maybe the Egyptian Army was a cheered Arab nationalist powerhouse under Nasser. But that was very long ago. Since then the country of the Nile has been again a foreign protectorate with only a formal independence. And if something shows this is that the revolution has failed to give Egypt not just its democracy but also its real independence as the 80+ million people regional power it should be (as are similarly sized Iran or Turkey).

    But something tells me this does not end here: at least the Egyptian People should not be (and is not with certainty) satisfied with this wrong culmination of the revolutionary process into an colonial puppet tyranny. It’s easy to imagine that a country like Egypt that has remained subjugated to foreign powers (with very rare and weakly “national” parenthesis) for so many millennia will not be able to raise on its feet and shake the colonial yoke but we (and critically Egyptians themselves) have realized that if they want they can, so I seriously doubt that this is a Thermidor but rather a short-lived Girondine phase that will be followed by further revolutionary changes in Egypt and elsewhere in Arabia.

    Hope so at least.

  5. Fiver

    Morsi occupies his chair at Obama’s pleasure to begin with, so neither the “surprising cooperation” nor the “surprising power grab” warrants even a mock raised eyebrow.

    What we see is another key milestone achieved on the way to realization of Condi Rice’s “New Middle East” strategic plan, rolled out in 2007, the next violent phases of the realignment of the entire region following up on the annihilation of the Iraqi nation and ongoing reshaping of Afghanistan/Pakistan.

    Libya similarly defunct as a functioning national entity. Ditto Syria. Egypt pocketed. Hamas and Hezbollah isolated, and Iran in the crosshairs for destabilization no matter how the nuclear issue is resolved – action independent of US dictat simply is not tolerated by any significant and weak actor.

    All of that was planned before Obama came on board. We, the various publics in the West, have been played yet again for fools who prefer to believe “our elite leadership are sex-scandal, stupidity-prone bozos who mean well” rather than “our leaders are highly skilled moral monsters” as the explanation for a given series of events, no matter how often or well the latter’s explicit planning and action has been documented. Although sometimes critical information becomes known publicly long after the events, the lag-time for enough valid information to be compiled, and a case made, has shrunk enormously.

    For example, just read the Brookings Institution report on US “options” vis a vis Syria. Then try to convince yourself that the degree of coincidence is unremarkable.

  6. charles sereno

    For what it’s worth, here are some of the things that bother me about events in Egypt. 1) Why is there no mention of the Egyptian military (and their economic interests)? The IMF deal was probably a necessity no matter who was in charge. Compare the problems even in Argentina, which is in a much better position, when international and subversive local elements start to gang up in coordinated fashion. 2) Why is the Egyptian judiciary mentioned almost as heroic oppositionists when they’re nothing more than encrusted pus? Now, we’re supposed to be in favor of NOT re-opening trials of those responsible for the “martyrs”? Or maybe we should give the Judges authority to dissolve an elected Legislature? 3) I cannot believe that the secularists are “useful idiots.” Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean their differences can’t be exploited and played by the US and Israel. US policy in the Mideast has consistently been to divide and (eventually) conquer (Palestine, Iraq, Iran, Gulf States). No reason to think otherwise now. 4) The only reporters I trust are Siddous (Democracy Now) from inside Egypt and Fisk from outside. (It took Siddous 3 days to get into Gaza. Hopefully, he’s now back in Egypt.) 5) My opinions are not worth much, but more because I lack information.

    1. liberal

      “Why is the Egyptian judiciary mentioned almost as heroic oppositionists when they’re nothing more than encrusted pus?”

      I don’t get this either.

      While it’s certainly possible Morsi doesn’t want an independent judiciary, his actions could (logically, at least) be interpreted as not wanting a holdover judiciary AFACT.

  7. Jill

    I heard an interview with an Egyptian activist on BBC. Many Egyptians seem to clearly understand what is going on. He said the executive has taken over the powers of the legislature and refused judicial review of his actions (sound familiar?). The refusal of judicial review was clearly the mark of a dictator. I kept wishing Americans had such a clear understanding of this govt.

    Yes, Obama and Morsi are in complete agreement, not just on this but on many things. Read the NYTimes on Obama’s use of drones. Notice how the judiciary has been dispensed with. They are one.


  8. Conscience of a Conservative

    Perhaps Obama was played, or perhaps Obama took a wise gamble understanding the need to contain Iran. One thing is clear, Morsi is not going to bring Democracy to Egypt, and interesting to see far less media coverage on what’s going on in Egypt and once again Syria compared to what we saw last week in Gaza.

  9. lil brother wants to tag along

    Obama is desperately trying to look relevant to a fait accompli that left him sitting home pulling his pud. He was useless as tits on a bull throughout Israel’s aggression.

    Funny how Morsi grabs the diplomatic initiative from Palestine’s tormentors, [so sez UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/11/20121124124357332912.html ], and imposes a little bit of decency on the conflict resolution process… and whattaya know, the airwaves of America are immediately filled with stories of brave Egyptians protesting their awful Pharaonic bondage. Our NCS overlords are shitting bricks about this serious puppet malfunction.

    1. Treasonous Shitheads'/Seditious Criminal Indoctrination

      The Clandestine Service, sorry. Aka Truman’s “Gestapo” and one of Ray McGovern’s “two CIAs,” and not the warm and fuzzy one either. Obama is their groomed and vetted puppet. Morsi, not so much.

    2. charles sereno

      Valiant Tahrir veterans rallying against the Newest Pharaohnic Kingdom and intrepid labor leaders confronting the Black Widow in Buenos Aires — What could possibly go wrong?

  10. rotter

    We, the various publics in the West, have been played yet again for fools who prefer to believe “our elite leadership are sex-scandal, stupidity-prone bozos who mean well” rather than “our leaders are highly skilled moral monsters”

    Rather, they are sex scandal, stupidity – prone bozos, who are moral monsters.

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