Morsi Now Backed by Egypt’s US-Equipped Military?

The Washington Post has just published (12/7/12) a report highlighting how Egyptian President Morsi has cemented his relationship with Egypt’s US-equipped military—an ominous, if predictable development, given the steady, incremental re-Islamization of all institutions in Egypt, over decades.

Noting one apparent source of Morsi being “emboldened”—in addition to mass, popularSharia thirst” among Egyptian Muslims—the report comments,

…if Morsi appeared emboldened, it may have had less to do with his support from the Muslim Brotherhood than with his newfound friendship with Egypt’s vaunted, wealthy, U.S.-supplied military, which deployed tanks and armored trucks in defense of the presidential palace early Thursday.

Such a “pointed display” by the discrete military unit charged with protecting the palace, the Republican Guard,  occurred in the wake of violent clashes which left 7 people dead and over 700 wounded. Despite being a relatively minor demonstration of force by Egypt’s military — “seven tanks, 10 armored trucks and a few dozen soldiers who set out coils of barbed wire” — this action came in the aftermath of a meeting early Thursday (12/6/12) which included Morsi, his recently appointed, young and “openly Islamist” defense minister, Abdul Fatah Khalil al-Sisi,  and  Gen. Hamid Zaki, newly appointed head of the Republican Guard, “considered a Morsi loyalist.”

This symbolism, the Washington Post report argues, is a manifestation of the closer relationship forged between Morsi and the military,

…sealed for now by the draft constitution, which he is so insistently advocating and which enshrines the military’s vast powers and autonomy to an unprecedented degree.

Specifically, deferring to objections from the country’s military leadership, Egypt’s new draft Constitution removes the clear prohibition on trials of civilians before military courts. Thus Article 198 of the final draft, states, “Civilians may not be tried before the military justice system except for crimes that harm the armed forces, and this shall be defined by law”—leaving intact the military’s power to try civilians under the Code of Military Justice.

But as alarming as this Morsi-Egyptian military alliance may be, in theory, the US still has considerable leverage—as the major supplier of Egypt’s military hardware and re-supplier of its required parts—barring the continuation of our dangerous policies which, notwithstanding the movement’s popularity, have abetted the Muslim Brotherhood. Such a rational US policy volte face by the Obama administration—withholding economic, and certainly all military support to Morsi’s government—is very unlikely.   Late Thursday, in a phone conversation with Morsi, President Obama voiced “deep concern’’ about the deaths and injuries of protesters and said that “all political leaders in Egypt should make clear to their supporters that violence is unacceptable.”

Obama’s tepid words were hardly commensurate with the gravity of the jihadist threat posed by an emerging Morsi-Egyptian military alliance, nor our direct capability to blunt that imminent danger.

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