Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Egypt Erupts Over Power Grab by Morsi Government

Egypt Erupts Over Power Grab by Morsi Government

Demonstrations held in Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and Nile Delta

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi met with leaders of the Supreme Judiciary Council in Cairo on November 26 in an attempt to calm the mass protests that have erupted across this North African state. On November 22, Morsi announced a series of decrees which would further consolidate power within his administration over areas of law, the judiciary and the constitution.

In the meeting the president told jurists who have threatened an indefinite strike over the new measures which they see as eroding their authority, these actions did not infringe upon the rights of anyone. He reiterated that the measures were designed to expedite the charging and prosecution of those responsible for the killing of activists during the uprising of early 2011 that led to the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak.

Amid widespread protests in Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and in the Nile Delta, Morsi announced on November 25 that the decrees would only be temporary. During discussions with the Supreme Judiciary Council, reports say that the president did not back down from his position of maintaining the decrees.

The presidential decrees preserve some authority within the constitutional panel and the upper chamber, which are dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP). In June, a judicial decision disbanded the lower chamber of parliament known as the People’s Assembly.

Later in August, Morsi retired two top army generals and enhanced his administrative authority in military affairs. A pending judicial decision on the legality of the upper chamber of the parliament may have precipitated the recent moves by the president.

National Protests Condemn Presidential Actions

Demonstrations across the country have resulted in the death of at least two young people. Gaber Salah, 16, died of head injuries sustained during clashes with police prior to the issuing of the decrees.

Clashes occurred earlier in commemoration of anti-military demonstrations one year ago that resulted in the massacre of civilians. Youth fought police in several areas of Cairo for several days leading up to the announcement by Morsi of the new decrees.

On November 26, 10,000 people marched through Cairo’s Tahrir Square. According to the Associated Press, “Mourners marched with Salah’s body laid in a coffin wrapped in Egypt’s red, white and black flag from Tahrir to a cemetery east of the city. Already images of Salah have appeared on Tahrir’s walls.” (AP, November 26)

The youth was a member of the April 6 movement, one of the key organizations that mobilized for the uprising beginning last January 2011. Underneath the image of Salah are the words: “Your blood will spark a new revolution.”

Also in the Nile Delta town of Damanhoor, another funeral procession took place for a 15-year-old member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Islam Abdel-Maksoud, who was reportedly killed on November 25 when a group of anti-Morsi protesters tried to storm the FJP offices in the area. (Ahram Online, November 25)

Morsi has ordered an investigation into the deaths of the two youths. The Minister of Health said that 444 people were wounded between November 22 and 26.

The political implications of the president’s actions have led to the withdrawal of secular and Christian forces from the 100-seat panel charged with drafting a national charter. The new round of demonstrations and rallies have also brought about the resurfacing of Mubarak-era politicians such as Mohamed ElBaredei, the former head of the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and former Arab League envoy and presidential candidate, Amr Musa.

International Implications of the Egyptian Crisis

Egypt has been a main ally of U.S. imperialism and the State of Israel for over three decades. The Camp David Peace Accords with Israel tied the Sadat and subsequent governments into a relationship of dependency with Washington and Tel Aviv.

The people of Egypt have not benefited from the Accord with Israel or the billions in aid supplied by the U.S. since the 1970s. When the uprising against the Mubarak regime occurred in early 2011, it sent shockwaves through ruling circles, intelligence agencies and the Pentagon.

Next to Israel, the Egyptian government is the largest recipient of direct aid from the U.S. Egypt has been fully integrated into the Pentagon and CIA strategy for North Africa and the Middle East. Since the ascendency of President Morsi, the West and its allies have sought to undermine the popular aspiration of the revolution.

Military ties between Egypt and the U.S. as well as Israel have continued. Egypt has sought to re-establish the supply of natural gas to Israel in the Sinai.

Recently, the Morsi government has sought to re-negotiate terms related to loans from the International Monetary Fund. The Gulf emirate of Qatar has offered to invest in the Egyptian economy to the tune of billions. A deal for the supply of liquefied natural gas was announced on November 26.

In the recent Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) bombing of Gaza, Egypt was praised in the corporate media for its role in mediating the conflict between Tel Aviv and Hamas. Yet this is a role that has been played by Egypt even under the former Mubarak National Democratic Party government.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton talked with Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr on November 26 in order to receive a briefing on developments inside the country. Clinton purportedly said that she was concerned over the recent unrest in the aftermath of the new presidential decrees. (Reuters, November 26)

In addition, Clinton also discussed the situation involving the recent war between the Palestinians in Gaza and Israel. The U.S. supplies billions in direct aid to Israel including sophisticated military aircraft and ordinances used against the Palestinian people.

The current situation in Egypt derives from the failure of the neo-colonial system established by the U.S. foreign policy objectives in the region. Washington and Wall Street want to maintain dominance over Egypt in order to control the political situation throughout the region.

Yet the worsening economic situation in Egypt coupled with the aggressive policies of the Israeli government will serve to keep the masses in a heightened state of mobilization and political awareness. A new coalition of nationalists, left and religious forces may emerge to take Egypt’s revolution to a heightened level

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