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Egyptian President is playing safer than believed
Mr. Morsi issued a decree allowing him to have unprecedented powers; something his predecessor Mr. Mubarak did not have. But he has reportedly withdrawn many of them keeping those powers on sovereign matters.

JUST LIKE the Jasmine Revolution, Egyptian society is appearing to be divided after the nation’s first democratically elected President Mohammed Morsi asserted unlimited powers on last Wednesday. Islamists are lining behind the President while secular parties are rallying against him.

The Islamists include Muslim Brotherhood, Jama’a al-Islamiya, Salafi Dawah, the Noor Party, Asala and Wasat. The Secularists include Wafd Party, Tagammu Party, Constitution Party, Democratic Egyptian Party, Free Egyptian Party, Popular Trend Party, April 6 Youth Movement, the Revolutionary Youth Union, the Free Egyptian Movement, the No to military trials groups and the Bring them for Trial Campaign. The Egyptian press and lawyers are vehemently opposing Mr. Morsi’s recent moves. Egyptian and international press have called him the modern avatar of ‘pharaoh’.

The Obama administration expressed dismay, dissatisfaction and disapproval of current events in Cairo. The State Department spokeswoman, Victoria Nuland said that the current constitutional vacuum in Cairo could be only resolved by an inclusive Constitution that includes checks and balances and respects the fundamental freedoms, individual rights and the rule of law consistent with Egypt’s international commitments.

The fact is that current situation in Egypt should have been quite expected after Mr. Morsi intervening successfully during recent Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza. Egypt requires a powerful President to meet its international obligations in the Middle East and he should be consistent and reasonable towards the US and the rest of the West. The court were to decide on December 4 on Mr. Morsi’s decree granting himself unlimited powers till the new constitution is not approved and new Parliament is not elected. But Mr. Morsi cleverly withdrew some of his powers limiting them to be on sovereign matters.

The fact is that Egypt lacks institutions to address its diversified but Islamists' opinion. The mandate on various issues is also very fractured. The sum total of the powers he recently assumed but reportedly withdrew later would have taken wings out of Egyptian army. Moreover, it is bad to have a very active judiciary. Mr. Morsi’s recent moves are consistent with the post-revolutionary Middle East.

The most important point is that Mr. Morsi can not be fired as his expulsion would result in disproportionately huge Islamism and also in great depression of Egyptian people and their political and social lives. Should Mr. Morsi’s opponents try and succeed in toppling him, they should fear “freezing and crystallization” of all genuine protests across the region and permanent fissures in Islamic societies over even trivial issues. The whole Arab world and Iran could then move towards a relatively permanently radicalized Islamic world. There is no Mr. Romney in the White House to provide glue and with more Islamism, the Arab world may move towards more sectarianism and divisionism, ultimately becoming more amorphous.

More the protests, more the Islamism and more divided the society on sects, gender issues and rights of the minorities. Removing Mr. Morsi requires the support of Egyptian army which in turn would require the support of Egypt's highest judiciary, which the US is very unlikely to allow. Therefore, there will be permanent tensions in Egypt and in the rest of the Arab world; there will be wide range of relaxation mechanism varying within a nation and across the region.

Western leaders, particularly the Americans, should not object to Mr. Morsi or his way of governing. Egypt is not even India and it can never meet the standards of any of the weakest Western states on human rights, freedom, individualism, fundamental rights and the rule of law. What the US should see that the Arab states, with certain exception, provide universal suffrage to its population and that elections are largely fair. That’s all. After that each Islamic society would evolve in its own way. There is no way to replace Islamism with secularism. The model of Turkey should not be considered as example as Turkey embarked on the path of localized secularism and modernism in relatively low conscious era during cold war in post-World War era.

In this high conscious era where identity matters to all: from China to India to the Middle East. It matters to the West as well but because of economic interests it may not be able to express itself. In this era it is very difficult to expect Islam which is politically Right and economically closer to the Left to embrace a Centrist approach. Therefore, limited freedom and more accountability should be the mantra of Middle Eastern leaders. What should matter to the West most is that Arabs consume and update their lives, though in Islamist way, with time and technology.

No elected leaders in post-revolutionary era should fail and shouldn’t complete his full term even if it means supporting another Hosni Mubarak. Mr. Morsi should be judged by international community on how he delivers on external issues. Domestic issues may also matter but they should not over-weigh external issues. This is the duty of Mr. Obama to see that Mr. Morsi succeeds. But if he even remotely supports fundamentalism, orthodoxy and status quo in the Middle East he may resemble Republicans of his class.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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