Egypt at the Crossroads: Forced “Dialogue” Convoked by Military for Wednesday (December 12)

Forced “Dialogue” Convoked by the Military on Wednesday, December 12; Divided Opposition v. Morsi’s Determination and Instransigence; Fateful Days for the Military, and for Egypt

On Monday, December 10, we wrote:

The future of Egypt may once again be in the hands of the armed forces and the police. How they respond may not necessarily depend on the orders they receive from the new leadership appointed by Morsi, but rather on the soldiers and policemen whose brothers and sisters are also in the street.

To that conclusion, we should now add:

Or it may be lost by continuing divisions and a lack of unity on the part of Morsi’s opponents.

The military has now convoked a dialogue on Wednesday between Morsi and the opposition. The meeting is to be held, significantly, at a military venue.

While the military may be tempted to think that its independence and perogatives will be safeguarded under the new constitution, they would do well to ponder how trustworthy the Muslim Brotherhood has proved to be in the past in dealing with secular forces, or any force that stands in their way. They might also consider the possibility of an emerging alliance between Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt, Hamas, and the Islamic forces in Syria (including the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria) which will be vying for power after the al-Assad regime collapses. Their ability to uphold the peace treaty with Israel, under these circumstances, could be put to the severest of tests.

Although the military has great leverage in the present situation, so too does the democratic opposition. If they are able to adopt a united approach, and if they then fail to do the military’s bidding and continue their active opposition to a new constitution (whether rejected at the polls on December 15 or adopted through a vote shaped by dictatorial actions), the point may come where the military will have to choose sides. If they choose to back Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, their claim to being the neutral arbiter and guarantor of Egypt’s democratic future will collapse.

There may be no Egyptian Ataturk waiting in the wings, or even an Egyptian Erdogan, but at least one thing has become crystal clear since November 22: the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt is a powerful anti-democratic force.

It is not even clear at this point who is calling the shots for Morsi’s government, be it the Supreme Guide or some faction of the Muslim Brotherhood, or Morsi himself–“the enforcer” of internal discipline within the Brotherhood before he ran for the presidency.

Who, indeed, is in charge of the presidency of Egypt at this crucial hour?

Any dialogue on Wednesday, or later, will necessarily have to take these questions into account.

The Trenchant Observer