The recent developments in Cairo are a sign of how much has changed in Egypt in a matter of days. Within two days of getting international recognition for his role in the Israeli-Hamas truce, Mohamed Morsi took a “U-Turn” on the domestic front.
To the surprise of all Egyptians, Morsi anointed himself with dictatorial powers over the legislature and the courts. He positioned himself above judicial oversight making ordinary Egyptians skeptical.
Defending his move, Morsi says that the Egyptians wanted him to be the guardian until Egypt has transitioned to a democratic setup, and all these moves are deemed “necessary steps” on the march to democracy. The question is; will democracy ever materialize in Egypt.
On the ground, Egyptians are not in a mood to buy Morsi’s rationalization that he needs to have such sweeping powers to “protect the revolution." People see ominous signs in his move.
Right now, for the people of Egypt, it looks like they have replaced another Hosni Mubarak with a beard and a prayer rug. And what’s more surprising is that Morsi now has more powers than Mubarak ever had.
There are fears on other fronts as well about the rise of Morsi. A section of Egyptians believe that Morsi’s leadership will steer Egypt to the right theologically and that minorities like Coptic Christians would find themselves vulnerable to persecution from the Muslim Brotherhood.
While Morsi may have attained a place of high stature in the eyes of the United States and the IMF during the peace negotiations in Gaza, the wave of protests in Tahrir Square gives a different picture about the leader.
On the other hand, it will be worth the wait to see what role of the Egyptian Military Council has in influencing Morsi. Until now, Morsi has taken over the courts, the media and the legislature, but he hasn’t done anything to alarm the military.
The recent development are clear indications that as long as Morsi refrains from challenging the Military Council’s interests, the military elites may let him control the rest of the major organs of a democracy, the courts, the media and the legislature.
With the recent events unfolding in Tahrir Square, and the turmoil in the Egyptian judiciary, the signs are ominous. Additionally, for the Obama administration, Morsi’s coup has come as a surprise after his role in brokering the Irsrael-Hamas cease-fire.
If the Morsi regime manages to transform itself into another Islamist Mubarak, the transition will be a severe blow to US interests in Egypt and additional substantiation of a Middle East withering away from US influence.
Finally, the way the power setup has been restructured in Egypt, all developments indicate a perfect recipe for Egypt sliding towards a Pakistan-like rule, with a predominant Islamist state and the military and intelligence services acting as autonomous powers.
Given the present situation, if all the apprehensions materialize in Egypt, the worst affected will be the liberals in Egypt who tasted the fruits of an "apparent" revolution inTahrir Square.
Whatever Morsi's intentions, a model of governance which places the military and intelligence out of its influence does not bode well for a stable Egypt.