I have been remiss
I really should have mentioned ages ago that the new Egyptian president, Mohammed Morsy, who everybody thought would be a wispy figurehead, suddenly pulled out a bunch of sneak-attack ninja honey badger shit a few days ago (or last week? By now? I suck).
The catalyst: “a group” (nobody seems to specify how many) of Islamic extremists and Bedouin attacked the Egyptian guards in the Sinai near the Israeli border, then managed to get barely through the Israeli border before being toasted by the IDF. (The Islamists’ grievance would be about the Israeli “occupation,” the Bedouin’s about the Egyptian and Israeli states’ constant interference with their lands and general negligence of their interests.) It’s worth noting that in order to do this, they ambushed the Egyptian security personnel while they were in the middle of breaking their Ramadan fast. Apparently, Murad Mouwafi, the head of intelligence, had actually gotten wind of this planned attack and did nothing about it because he didn’t believe Muslims would attack Muslims at such a holy time (which is both a headdesk and actually really sad).
This, of course, led to a big to-do, since Egypt has been one of the only Israel-friendly states in the region. Understand, this doesn’t mean Egyptians are Israel-friendly; it means that the state leaders decided that the US’s side of the broad regional divide was the side to be on, so they made a treaty with Israel and have been delivering it natural gas for a long time. Post-revolution, the future of that relationship has been…much more uncertain, especially with an Ikhwan president.
Mursi made the usual statements; we will catch these criminals, get to the bottom of it, etc. etc. BUT THEN—Well, I’ll let this article do the talking:
With a bold decree canceling the June 17 Supplementary Constitutional Declaration that limited his powers just before his inauguration—as well as a spate of new senior appointments eliminating senior leaders of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and promoting more junior SCAF members—President Mohammed Morsi appears to be using last week’s Sinai crisis as an opportunity to implement a broader plan. […]
Morsi has now sacked Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, Minister of Defense since 1991 and de facto president since Mubarak’s departure, and Chief of Staff Sami Enan (often seen as almost equal to Tantawi in power), giving them medals for service and making them presidential advisors. Morsi also replaced the heads of the air force and navy.
I cannot begin to tell you how unexpected and badass this is. Tantawi was the de facto head of state during the interim period; he ran SCAF. Most people I know took his reappointment as Minister of Defense as a sign of his continued influence and Morsy’s weakness. And then mere weeks later, BAM.
Secondly, Morsy essentially reversed a number of declarations SCAF had made just prior to the elections that aggregated a great deal of power to themselves. (See the same article for more detail.) Now, this is good, in that it weakens SCAF’s overbearing influence, but whether it ultimately works out well depends a great deal on what he does with these powers. If he devolves them to Parliament (whenever THAT mess gets worked out) and the constituent assembly that’s meant to be writing the new constitution, then this is basically an A+ gold star, as far as I’m concerned. But that remains to be seen.
You guys, I did NOT see this coming and I LOVE IT. Partly because anything that takes the military down a notch is good, but honestly? I love politics. My favorite scenes in Game of Thrones are when Varys and Lord Baelish (and whoever else—they have revolving partners) are dancing around each other, saying all sorts of things without saying anything at all. And this? This is going to be GREAT politics. This is MUCH more interesting than Morsy the figurehead. I’m basically rubbing my hands.
It turns out that being a student of politics makes you a little bit evil. Of course, there are real lives and futures at stake here. But since I do think that these developments have strong potential to be ultimately positive, I feel a lot less bad about the gleeful analyst on my shoulder.